Ask questions and an opportunity is created to build a relationship. You become the customers’ guide, a directional source that will help them solve a problem or fulfill their wish that brought them to your business in the first place.
On the flip side, answer more than the customers question and you offer a valuable resource unique to you that the customer can’t get anywhere else. A conversation can create a customized experience that is distinct and special. But, customers may not ask questions unless they feel engaged. The sales associate must give the customer their full attention, respect and be willing to listen. Anyone can tell if a person is interested or not. My wife and I love to meet and get to know new people. But, we automatically fall back into non-engagement mode if we feel the person doesn’t want to connect. A missed opportunity!
Let’s look at the theme park industry. Families taking a vacation are frequently escorted from place to place on a small bus. What will a good tour guide do? Immediately engage the passengers: ask them where they are from, have they been here before, what do they want to do at the park? Each guest is exclusive and important and made to feel special. Every customer could experience a similar feeling, no matter the venue.
Frontline associates should be trained to act more like tour guides at a theme park. Customer service is a process and should be an experience, not just separated interactions in a silo. The true experience begins with building a connection. The best way to create that connection is with a meaningful two-way dialog. Any conversation is initiated with thoughtful and relevant questions. These connections lead to customer loyalty.
I asked my dermatologist, Dr. Campbell, the quintessential welcomer, why she asks me and other patients such interesting questions. Her answer was that she likes not only to provide her patients with good medical advice but also other information that is helpful. It could be about a new restaurant, a movie she just saw or a great place to take their grandchildren. Dr. Campbell said her patients always talk about their grandchildren and she is so happy when they share their appreciation for her non-medical advice. A visit to Dr. Campbell is much more than just a procedure and her patients look forward to coming back.
Customer service is about helping a customer determine what products or services are best. You can’t do that for any retail channel without asking the customer the right questions. Create a relationship and establish that human connection to provide a customized service experience. That experience is the differentiator between you and your competitor.