I'm Not An Idiot (but even if I was...)
by Dwayne Castle
I broke the mirror off my wife's car. The tree, it jumped out of nowhere. It ambushed me. It could have happened to anyone (who was in a hurry and not paying attention as he backed down a driveway.)
I explained to the parts guy my need to get a replacement mirror in hand quickly to ensure that the repair shop would be able to fix it for me this same day. There was some question as to whether or not they would be able to meet my deadline and thereby miss the repair shops deadline.
When I expressed my need for a firm timeline, the parts guy responded in a way that temporarily stung me in the man card- "Can't you just put the mirror on yourself?" To my ears, his question sounded like "What's wrong with you, dude? A monkey could fix your problem."
I could have conveyed to him that although I'm not skilled at, nor do I enjoy working on cars, I am an expert in building customer relationships. I can communicate with people in a manner that makes them feel better for involving me in their situation. I can answer customer inquiries and complaints in a positive, comforting and efficient manner.
And I could have shared with him that I could even train him how to do those things. Instead, I let him know that I would turn a 15 minute project into a 2 day 15 minute project. That is my track record when it comes to car repairs. There is a reason I pay professionals to work on my car- they are the professionals.
I don't do my own mechanic work, my own taxes or my own medical procedures. I use a fair amount of duct tape but when I need something done right I find a person who does that thing for a living.
Here is a tip for small business owners and anybody involved in any aspect of the sales and service departments of any business- don't make your customer look or feel stupid. It's bad for business. Customers come to you because they want or need something that you offer. If they are made to feel inferior in your presence, they can usually go elsewhere.
There is a reason that Amazon is growing while brick and mortar stores are closing shop. Being relationally driven is about creating an environment that causes people to want to spend their time and money with you. If you want to compete you have to learn and grow in your people skills. Here are a few tips that can help you.
1) Be Positive- Assure your customer you can help them or that you can provide recommendations to them that will help their situation. This helps ease the customer's burden and increases your value in their eyes.
2) Offer Assistance- "I could show you how to quickly fix that problem if you'd like" or "Would you like me to print out a step-by-step guide for replacing your mirror?" Both of these questions are much better than "can't you do that?"
3) Avoid Negative Phrasing- Using the word "can't" is seldom found in conversations revolving around solutions. The use of "can" and "will" are great for generating confidence in your ability to help the customer.
4) Be Kind- Customers can sometimes be a pain. They can be wrong. They can be jerks. They can be confused and confusing and oftentimes they can be inexperienced or incompetent at the thing in which you excel. Through it all they are still the customer. When you recognize that without them you don't exist, it helps to approach them in a relationally driven manner.
5) Smile- As I've written time and again, you can't overestimate the power of a genuine smile. With your facial expression you can show empathy and understanding and make a connection with your customer. For more on the importance of putting your best face forward, click this link.
What are your thoughts? Have you had similar experiences? Do you have tips you could add to my list? I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you could like or comment.
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