My husband and I recently completed a two-week Mediterranean cruise. After embarking in Barcelona, we traveled more than 2,000 miles to five countries and eight ports of call. Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, this dream vacation resulted from years of saving and months of planning. We were not disappointed.
From the Coliseum in Rome to the ruins of Pompeii, we were dazzled with scenery, sites and history. We listened to tour guides, ate gelato and swam on the Italian Riviera. We mustered, tendered and consumed way too much. And much to our delight, we enjoyed the finest service Ive ever experienced.
The attitude on board ship was no problem. With a crew meticulously trained, it was clear from the moment we boarded that whatever our interest, request or problem, they were there to serve. This was no easy task as the ship accommodates more than 2,000 guests each with their own agendas, preferences and anxieties. During the day, tourists were destined to lose their cameras, itineraries and even their children.
At one point, I purchased tickets for a boat trip to shore only to discover the journey was included in another excursion. Though the ticket said not refundable, I sheepishly went to the counter to inquire about a refund. The answer? No problem.
Craving guacamole one afternoon, I arrived at one of the restaurants looking for the avocado treat. Though not open, one of the chefs raced back in the kitchen and brought out dip and chips. When I thanked him, he saidyou guessed itNo problem. In spite of several thousand guests who also had various needs, issues and requests, we were made to feel special.
Small Things Count
The no problem attitude can work wonders for your self-storage business. What small things can you do for customers to make it clear you value their business and the relationship?
Here are some ideas:
- Adopt the no problem attitude. Train your staff to use that phrase on a regular basis regardless of the request or the inconvenience. In a sometimes hostile and argumentative world, its refreshing to do business with people who dont argue about the small stuff or make a transaction more difficult than it needs to be. The phrase works well to make it clear that the customer comes first.
- Accommodate as much as possible. I frequently observe customer interactions that appear to be nothing more than a verbal shoving match. Staff may argue about a detail that really doesnt make any difference just to win the skirmish but lose the war. Dont make the customer feel youre doing him a favor by taking his money. He wont be back.
- Ban the P words. Nobody cares about your policies, procedures or protocols. They only care about what you can do for them. Nothing will annoy a customer more than hearing that what they want isnt allowed because of policy and procedure. Standard operating procedures are for your benefit, not the customers.
- Under promise and over deliver. Exceed expectations and you will create customer loyalty. People have come to expect poor customer service these days, and those storage facilities that focus on quality stand out. Go the extra mile and do the unexpected. Customers will remember the service.
- Train staff in customer relations. Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, delicately refers to it as buying ChapStick for all your staff members. Theyll need it for kissing all the customers. Make it clear to employees that their paycheck comes from tenants, not the payroll department. If customers dont spend, employees dont get paid.
- Maximize the first encounter. Its said you only get one chance to make a first impression. Thats especially important for businesses. Whos answering your facility phone? Do customers encounter a friendly voice or a burned-out robot? Each and every encounter should be positive, friendly and helpful.
- Dont forget the follow up. Service doesnt stop once the transaction is paid. Stay in contact with your customers through newsletters, mailings and phone calls. Offer them helpful resources that position your company as the experts. The next time they need your service, you will be the one theyll call.
Adopt the no problem approach for your business. Let your customers know how much you appreciate them and their confidence in your goods and services. Long-term relationships are the key to growing any business. Make sure youre thinking of the third and fourth transaction when youre making the first.
Barbara Bartlein is the PeoplePro, offering keynotes, seminars and consultation to help you build your business. To subscribe to her free e-mail newsletter, visit www.thepeoplepro.com. For more information, call 888.747.9953; e-mail [email protected].