Yesterday as I was doing some christmas shopping (it never really ends, does it?), I was approached by this salesperson who asked if I needed any help in finding something. I said I was okay and that I could manage.
He lingered a bit, saw my shopping list and when he saw how long it was, jokingly asked if I was sure I didn’t need any help. He offered some suggestions which were truly helpful. And then he was called by another customer — who looked like she really needed someone’s help. But before he turned his back, he told me that he’ll just be there in the area, in case I needed some assistance.
I really appreciate salespeople who extend quality service. By quality service, I mean, it’s not just about getting me the product/s that I need. It’s about the way they attend to me as a customer. I don’t like salespeople who move like programmed robots… the ones who just memorize a spiel but are blankfaced when you inquire about something they are not prepared for. Nor do I like the ones who are too pushy and who oversell. But I think the ones I dislike the most are the ones who can’t even smile… the ones who make you feel like you are being a burden when you ask for assistance.
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My love for shopping makes me a perennial customer, but I do know how it feels to be on the other side… the side that provides the ‘service.’
Having worked for the front office as well as the customer service department of a big company in my past life, I have faced a lot of different personalities. Not all of them were nice, believe me. Some people can be really rude or overbearing. There are those who have the tendency to look down on other people, well, just because. And when you are a sales person, a front office staff or a customer service personnel, or have whatever frontline job, you are prone to coming across different characters.
In my years of doing frontline work, here are some things that I learned about customer service that hopefully can be valuable to the readers who are also in the same line of job.
1) Smile. And I mean ALL the time. Yes, smile though your heart is breaking. Smile even if you’ve been standing the whole day and your feet are killing you. Your customers don’t know that. If you are the type who loves to channel Oscar the Grouch, then by all means, choose another department… far from the front office, far from the customers.
2) Be courteous, polite and friendly.
3) Be professional. When I said friendly, I didn’t mean you should overdo it. Customers are still customers. No matter how long you have known them, or how often they go to your store or your company, keep in mind that you have to treat your customers with respect. Don’t be all chummy-chummy, and avoid making jokes specially at the expense of the customer! It’s okay to kid around once in a while with customers you are already comfortable with, but still know your place. Don’t be OVERfriendly. It could cost you your job.
4) Let the customer or client talk. Find out what he/she needs. Don’t assume. You are not a mind reader.
5) Be knowledgeable. Know your company. Know your products. Know current events if needed. As a customer myself, I really hate it when I am asking for something and the sales person answers me with either a flat out ‘No’ or ‘I don’t know,’ without even exerting any effort to either look for the product or offer me alternatives.
6) Go the extra mile. In line with #5, going the extra mile or giving a service that is more than what is expected of you makes you different from all the rest. Chances are your customers will remember you. AND they will come back. Happy customers normally come back.
7) Patience is a virtue. Don’t rush the customer. Don’t act like you can’t wait to get rid of him or her. Some customers take longer time to think or decide on certain things. There are fickle buyers. Offer suggestions as you see fit and leave them first if they need more time to think. But like the guy in my example above, let them know that you are just there to assist when they’re ready. Surely they will appreciate the space rather than having you breathing over their shoulders.
8) Remember, it is NOT personal. Frontliners face different people with different moods and temperament day in and day out. Any given day, you may come face to face with not just one but maybe even two or more irate customers. Customers who, themselves, are having a bad day and somehow end up displacing their anger. Unfortunately, you end up being at the receiving end. So, what do you do? Do you cry? Do you shout back? Do you walk out?
Best thing to do is just keep quiet. Let the customer blow off his steam. It will pass, eventually. And if you really are not at fault, somehow the customer will realize that. Most often than not, they even become apologetic in the end. Just remember, it’s not about you. Don’t take it personally.
9) SMILE. I just have to say it again. It all starts — and ends — with a smile. Works wonders on a stressful day. Makes you look much, much younger, too.
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photo via weheartit.com and google images