Customers want to feel that frontline associates are doing their best to help them find what they need. Customer service is all about helping people. In my new book, The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business, I found and interviewed hundreds of ‘Welcomers’, those associates that see the customer as a person first, a customer second, to discover their common traits. Not surprisingly, every one of them had a history of helping people. They volunteered at soup kitchens, helped build their local firehouse with their dad or mom, coached little kids or baby-sat, all because they liked to do it. They naturally enjoyed helping people.
Unfortunately, there are too many robotic thinking and acting frontline associates who do not convey an attitude of “I want to help.”
Therefore, I developed a tool kit for Welcomer-wannabees to help them think and act the way a Welcomer would. The tool kit is divided into three segments: the Greet, the Assist and the Leave-Behind. Employed together, these three components will help any business generate repeat customers.
Let’s look at the tools for the Assist:
➢ Find out the customer’s name, if you don’t already know it.
➢ Use the customer’s name at least once during the interaction, but not more than twice.
➢ Tell them your name, even if it is on your badge.
➢ Try to determine the underlying emotion of the customer: are they upset, happy, angry, or frustrated? Customers appreciate when you acknowledge what they are feeling, and when appropriate, apologize for the extra wait, the long lines, the fact that you need to take time to check the stock, etc.
➢ Use alternate language to engage with the customer. Don’t only ask, “How may I help you?” – but sometimes say “I would like to help you with that. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to better understand what you are looking for?”
➢ Don’t give one-word answers; provide detailed explanations wherever appropriate.
➢ Always provide additional useful information, such as “We have a Facebook page”, a Web site, other stores, our annual sales event, and so forth.
When searching for new frontline associates, ensuring that candidates have a background in Helping 101 and/or a previous history of volunteering will give your business a significant advantage, and make it less likely that your customers will be interested in the next competitor that moves into the area or establishes a fancy new e-commerce site.
See my previous blog post for details on the Greet. I will elaborate on the tools for the Leave-Behind in a future post. What other tools would you add to “the Assist”?