Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Starting a conversation, part of Customer Service Foundations.
One of my favorite ways to build rapport with customers ,is by starting a conversation. There are a few benefits to making a little small talk. Get customers to talk about themselves, which makes them feel more comfortable. You can use the conversation to identify additional opportunities to serve. And it can reduce your customer's perception of wait time ,by filling dead air. Some people are natural conversationalists, but I'll be the first to admit I'm not one of them. That's why i use something called the five question technique ,to make it easy for me to start a conversation with just about any customer.
Here's how it works. Make a list of five questions that you might use to break the ice. Make a customer feel more comfortable ,or find an additional opportunity to serve. Remember your list of questions the next time it's appropriate to start a brief conversation with a customer, and use one of your questions to get things going. When you write your questions, try to go beyond generic ones, such as, is there anything else i can help you with? . The best questions help you learn more about your customer needs and preferences. Here are a few examples ,that can break the ice and help you find additional ways to serve.
If you work in a hotel, you might ask a guest have you ever stayed with us before? . Their answer would tell you whether to explain the hotel's amenities to a new guest, or to welcome back a returning guest. If you're a cable technician, you might ask the home owner is there anything else you'd like me to take a look at while I'm here? . This may prompt your customer to mention something else that's not working properly or ,even ask about a potential upgrade. If you work in a retail store, you might ask, what are you shopping for today? . Their answer will allow you to direct them to the appropriate department ,and even help them make their selection.
If you work in a bank, you might ask are you here on your lunch break? . A customer in a hurry might appreciate learning how to save time with your new smartphone app. If you work in a technical support department, you might ask, how is everything else working? . This prompts the customer to think of any other questions they might have about their software ,or their equipment. You can create a list of your own five questions by downloading the worksheet ,or writing them down on a blank piece of paper. I want to leave you with one last word of caution. Whenever you ask a customer a question ,you'd better make sure you care about their answer.
I learned this lesson the hard way. When I was a teenager, my first job was working in a clothing store. I tried to greet every customer by saying hello and asking, how are you today? . People usually said they were fine, but one day a customer caught me off guard when she said, "I'm terrible". I hadn't expected her to say that so i was completely speechless. Before i could recover, she said "well, you asked". From that day forward, i made sure to care about the answer whenever I asked the customer a question. The next time a customer told me they weren't doing too well, i replied by saying "I'm really sorry to hear that, is there anything I can do to make your day a little better"? That time it worked.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.