Are You Truly Servicing Your Customers?

Baseball cap

Stock Baseball Cap

Last week in speaking with a customer, who buys a single product from our Calendar Warehouse division, I discovered that what I thought to be standard service in the promotional products industry, is anything but.

This customer wanted to buy some hats.  A simple enough request.  However, hats, even baseball caps come in many styles, colors, and fabrics.  Rather than take a few minutes to ask the customer such questions as: Do you want American made or import?,  embroidered or screenprinted?, what type of closure?,  structured or unstructured?  they handed the customer a 3/4 inch thick catalog and said “Here, find what you want.”, which of course resulted in no sale and no hats for the customer, they abandoned the project.

The last time that I checked, looking through the “catalog” was my job.  The way that it is supposed to work is that the customer says I would like hats. I ask the few targeted questions, and then come back with anywhere from one to six suggestions.  We narrow down the choices and then get a sample if necessary.  Servicing the customer, is how we thought it was supposed to work. This story got me to thinking about customer service in general.

Servicing the customer applies to any business.  If you are selling computers or fax machines, office furniture or even consulting services, the person who is selling the product or providing the product should be asking a few questions, giving the customer a chance to ask a few in return and then come back with the information that the customer needs to make a decision.

Self service is OK in the automat, although Horn & Hardart, is long since out of business as well.  Maybe that should tell us something.  People want to be serviced.  I am not talking about waiting on someone hand and foot, but a little help in making someone else’s day go a little bit easier goes a long way.  It helps the customer be more productive, and it helps you close a sale.

The next time that someone asks you a question, or asks about your product or service, go out of your way to get them the information that they need and help them accomplish their task.  This is customer service.

If you are looking for other ideas as to how you can improve your customer service skills we highly recommend The Telephone Doctor. Don’t let the name fool you, Nancy and her staff can help you navigate any area of customer service. We are still following her advice after hearing her speak too many years ago to count.  Using Nancy’s advice for guidance, even if we can’t help someone, at least they do not walk away angry, like the would be hat buyer, and they come back for other things that we can help them with.  We have a happy customer and a healthier bottom line because of it.

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5 Responses to Are You Truly Servicing Your Customers?

  1. Your advice, Anne, is priceless. There’s a big difference between ‘buying off the rack’ and ‘custom.’ Self-service takes time and time is money. There’s also risk … the risk of purchasing the wrong product … the one that won’t meet your needs, will cost more money, and waste time. It all adds up to a poor purchasing experience for the buyer and missed opportunity for the seller.

    I like your advice. It recognizes the value of asking questions, the benefit of sharing expertise, and the understanding that all customer experiences are an opportunity to deepen the client relationship. In whatever field we each work, servicing the client is what matters most.

    • Thanks, I am glad you found this post helpful. Well worth taking a couple of minutes to watch a video of Nancy Friedman from the link as well. Her customer service tips take the foundation of service and elevate it to an art.

  2. Pingback: You Are Standing Around in Your Booth, Now What? – Part 6 on Trade Shows | Adinfinitumcorporate's Blog

  3. Nathan Robson says:

    Good post! I think too often sales professional lose sight of what they really do and the value that the bring to the equation. It is common place today to see them defeated and feel like all customers care about is price. You will find them blaming the internet, suppliers, partners, and their even their own company as the reason for poor performance. Many fail to look in the mirror and understand that they wield the greatest influence on the result. It is their expertise, knowledge, innoviation, problem solving, and ability to put the client in a better position before they entered the equation that they should focus on. Thanks for sharing the article.

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