This past week I was placing an order for a client holiday gift when the unthinkable happened. I decided to contact the company by phone since the choices I wanted didn’t appear on the website.
I set aside 25 minutes to make the call and place the order. The phone rang many times (ok it’s their busy season). When I finally got connected to a real person, they proceeded to speak over me and share some garbled information. I had ordered from them previously, but the individual on the other end could not find my file. This went on and on until they finally said, “I can’t help you. I need to find my supervisor.” And they immediately put me on “hold” and never came back.
Frustrated and knowing I had limited time to place this order; I did what many of you would do. I hung up and called a competitor. In five minutes I completed my order and was thanked.
Whether our customers are internal or external, leaders know that to meet our customer’s needs, we must delight them. We want those we serve to feel that we care about their concerns and want to solve whatever challenges they are facing.
How do we make sure that our customers come first? How do we connect with our customers to show them we truly value their business?
1. Develop a customer-focused mindset
To be a leader in taking care of customers, we need to acknowledge how important they are and how we can serve them best.
2. Be a strategic listener
To provide our customers with what they truly need we must listen with the intent to understand. Make sure you can answer the question: “What is it they really need from me?” Don’t interrupt and stay with the conversation.
When serving customers, leaders listen with focus and intent.
3. Never let the ball drop
When the person on my initial call dropped me and didn’t return, it made me feel as if I didn’t matter to them. I felt like just another phone call, not a valuable customer. What the individual could have done was take my name and number and say that if we got disconnected, they would call back. Similarly, we need to follow through with our customers in the workplace. If we don’t have an immediate answer, make sure to re-connect with them after you find out.
4. Offer helpful advice
Whenever possible, it is a great idea to authentically ask: “How may I help you?” Don’t stop at a first response, but make sure to understand their true concerns and respond in a generous way. Another statement that can make a difference is: “I really want to help you solve this problem.”
5. Use clear communication
How we share our thoughts and ideas impacts the way our customers see us. If we use negative or judgmental language, we probably won’t connect with our customers in a meaningful way.
When providing outstanding customer service, leaders use positive and clear language.
6. Ask questions
If we are unsure of what our customers need, ask empowering questions. How can I make this work for you? What are your biggest concerns that I need to address?
7. Delight the customer
The ultimate way to connect with customers is to delight them so they will want to work with us again. If we can lead by making a difference or helping them resolve an issue, we will begin to capture their loyalty.
How do you connect with your customers? What leadership strategies have helped you best serve others?