Customers make most of their judgements about you and your business within the first few minutes of meeting you or your business representative.
Team members should always be properly dressed – establish clear guidelines as to what is acceptable, even if your company does not have a specific dress code. Customers have expectations as to how a representative of a particular business or profession should be dressed – this one factor is of disproportionate importance, as documented many years ago by John Molloy (1988) in Dress for Success. And remember, it’s always easier to dress down than it is to dress up.
There’s no substitute for enthusiasm. A customer wants to know that you and your team are 100% committed to your products and services. Train your team members so that when they are asked what they do, they respond with – “I work for the best __________in town/in the ________ industry. For example, “I work for the best consulting firm in the forest products industry.”
This is achieved when members of your team demonstrate:
- Product and service knowledge
- Acceptance of responsibility
- Active listening
- Keeping promises
At this point, it may be advisable to do an overall “image audit” of your company. Here’s a checklist:
- Team member dress
- Business cards (everyone should have one)
- Company branding
- Physical appearance of the business
- Product packaging
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Be a Good Listener!
When you meet with a customer or prospective customer (particularly if you haven’t met them before):
- Ask them if they are happy to answer some questions
- Ask “open questions”, i.e. those that require more than a yes/no answer
- Ask for clarification or elaboration of a customer’s statement
- Ask if it’s OK to take written notes – this tells the customer that what he/she is saying is important
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t argue or contradict
- Repeat back the customer’s goals, issues or concerns to reinforce and clarify