By Barry Himmel
Many of the most common customer-service mistakes can be corrected or avoided with employee guidance, supervisor patience and a commitment to putting the customer first. Building a culture of legendary service requires the support of management, as well as the implementation of skills and standards surrounding the customer experience.
Review these 10 common customer-service mistakes and the ways you and your employees can avoid making them. Eliminating these mistakes will create an important competitive advantage and help you define your self-storage facility as the one with the highest customer-service standards.
1. Making a Poor First Impression
It doesn’t take long for a customer to get an impression of your business. In fact, it usually happens within the first 30 seconds. The greeting you offer on the phone or when someone enters your facility often sets the tone for the transaction.
The customer absorbs a lot in these first 30 seconds. If the transaction is over the phone, then how quickly the phone is answered and the quality and sincerity of the greeting is very important for making a great first impression. The phone should be answered within three rings, and the greeting should be upbeat and professional.
When a customer enters your facility, you need to consider the visual experience as well. Is your site neat and clean? Does staff deliver the right impression in their appearance and body language? Look at your facility through the eyes of your customer …What do you see? Remember, you only have one opportunity to make a legendary first impression.
2. Asking the Wrong Questions
You are the professional, and it is up to you to ask the right questions to accurately assess a customer’s needs. By taking control of the interaction and asking the right questions from the beginning, you can better tailor your solution to the customer’s requirements.
When you ask the right questions, the customer gains more confidence in your abilities and starts to trust you with his business. Don’t make assumptions, as they aren’t always right!
3. Failing to Build a Relationship With the Customer
Customers are more likely to do business where they feel most comfortable. This comfort comes from confidence and relationships.
The easiest way to begin developing a relationship is to ask and use the customer’s name. The reason I keep using the same dry cleaner is he has taken the time to remember and use my name. It makes me feel welcome, like I am a valued customer. It does make a difference.
Once you get the customer’s name, you can start building that relationship. Building the relationship is the fun part of being in business. It will result in greater customer loyalty and more referrals.
Many employees struggle with getting the customer’s name, especially over the phone, but the majority of people will volunteer their name when asked. If you’re hesitant, try saying, “I can certainly help you with that. May I please get your name?” It works every time!
4. Failure to Present Value in Your Products or Services
Customers who are “shopping” will typically inquire about availability and price. They want to base their decision on those components. One common customer-service mistake is providing the customer only that—availability and price. They know nothing else about your facility and why it’s the best.
If a customer is just shopping, make certain he knows you’re the right choice. Leave him with more than price; leave them with a great impression of your company and specific reasons why he should do business with you. Your price will have more meaning when delivered with value.
5. Failure to Ask for the Sale
An inside sales staff has many responsibilities, but one of the most important tasks is to capture the sale. In many instances, this is accomplished by simply asking.
It seems simple enough. However, research conducted through extensive mystery phone shopping shows the opposite to be true. Most frontline employees are order-takers. They will provide lots of information but neglect to ask for the business.
Employees must see themselves as sales people and asking for a commitment from the caller is an important part of their job. Role-play with others to master this important skill.