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What do you think of when you hear the term “customer expectations”?

poinsetta tree

This tree exceeded my expectations. 🙂

Do you have all of your shopping done? How have your customer service interactions been? Rushed? Indifferent? Spectacular? Heartfelt? Or “D” all of the above?

We all are customers at some time or another. During the holiday season, we tend to find ourselves being more customer than at other times of the year. What you expect in customer service and product quality in the retail world are really the same things our internal and external customers expect of us in the business world. Two sides of the same coin.

When I use the term “customer expectations” what do you conjure up? What do those words mean to you? To me they relate to the following actions we need to focus on:

Deliver your commitments.
Trust is built on doing what you say you will do. Once trust is broken, it is very hard to recover. Keep track of what you say, regardless how small, and make sure you do it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Keep it simple.

Trust is built on strong communications. Be clear, be concise, and be ready to listen. The customer should never feel they are an interruption when it comes to communication. There is no such thing as “over” communicating if you do it right. Remember the old saying, “Tell them, Tell them again, and then Tell them one more time.”

Be authentic.
Trust is built on believing in the service, the product, and the process that is being purchased. Honesty manages expectations. Telling the customer what they want to hear prevents you from delivering your commitment. Ensure your Yes, is yes and your No, is no. Anything else can get you off-track.

Understand and partner with your customer to meet their needs.
Trust is built on the customer knowing you are there to make them successful. They will have issues and so will you. Your job is to partner with them to find a way forward that is doable by both sides. Look for the mutually beneficial solution. It’s there.

When you come down to the bottom line, good customer service has a lot of trust built into the experience. Trust is a long term play. It is not something built over night. Trust breeds more business.

Be intentional,

Four Actions to Energize Customer Service Without Annoying Anyone

SERVE:  Energize yourself and others (fifth of five week series)

Energizering too

Of course, an afternoon espresso never hurt…

This past four weeks we have explored ingredients on how to better serve the customer.  This week we come to the final ingredient – energizing yourself and others.  The first visual image that comes to my mind is the Energizer Bunny – it keeps going and going.  When I think of energizing I think of movement, action, doing something.  Lots of people care, lots of people can say the right thing, lots of people can be emotional/passionate – these are all internal feelings/thoughts.  But as the customer I ask:  “Is there any action that moves things forward?”

Serving the customer, at the very end, means actually doing something.  Fix their problem.  Deliver a quality product.  Provide a pro-active improvement.  Do something.

As a customer, I really want to see people moving (especially if I am waiting in a line).  I was at a store recently, waiting my turn in line.  There was one person working to serve the customers, and three others behind the counter doing “something” slowly.  They may have been doing something important, but as the customer I felt aggravated that they were doing something other than wait on me (it should be noted many of those in line with me felt the same way).   Throughout the day, we should be constantly serving our customers (internal or external).  Being energized to take care of your customers is critical to serving successfully.  AND you being energized will help energize others.  If you are not actively moving, no one else is going to move either.

There are lots of ways to energize yourself and, in turn, energize others.

  1. Know what end game you are driving to.  Is it getting what your customer needs faster?  Is it anticipating and being proactive?  If you move in a single direction, you can more easily energize others to move in the same direction with you.  If you are spinning your wheels, no one will want to join you.
  2. Know why you care.  It is hard to be motivated (energized) if you cannot state why you care, or why others should care.  It can be as simple as earning your paycheck, or as complex/altruistic as being the best in the business.  What motivates you? What motivates others?  Plug into that to become energized and energizing.
  3. Don’t confuse thoughts with actions.  Energized means movement.  Think Energizer Bunny.
  4. Communicate the actions – sometimes what we do, the real action, is not seen by others.  If people do not know you did something, they will assume nothing happened.  Did you tell the customer that you fixed their problem?  Or did you figure they would eventually just see the problem disappeared and then they would know it was fixed.  Why make them frustrated while they wait to see it is fixed? Why make them wonder if you did something.  “Knowing” is key to your customer appreciating that you did something, that you did something specifically for them.

Can you think of a time where you wanted to “energize” the customer service you encountered? Just for a moment, put yourself in their shoes. What do you see?  Does it change your opinion any? Feel free share below in the comments.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to not only SERVE your customers but to SERVE them well.

kind regards,