customer speaking with employee at antique store

The Importance of Customer Service, Pt. 2

Part one of this series provided five statements that provide us with the guidelines for providing extreme customer service: 

I project a positive image and energy

I am courteous and respectful to all customers

I go above and beyond

I create relationships with my customers

I am a team player

This post will focus on statement #2: ​I am courteous and respectful to all customers.

It is essential that we remain courteous and respectful to all customers, be they student, parent, faculty or staff, coworkers or supervisors. Ways to do this are to make eye contact and smile, greet and welcome each customer, engage in customer interactions and remember to say thank you.

We talked about the importance of the smile in Part One, so let's talk about how greeting, welcoming and engaging our customers can help to create valuable individual relationships with them. After greeting the customer with a handshake and establishing eye contact, the best way to interact with your customers is by having conversations with them. There are several ways to begin this conversation - let's look at some. 

Open-ended questions are the fastest way to gain a better understanding of your customers because they provide wider opportunities for your customers to talk. Questions like "What questions do you have?" will garner much more information than asking "Do you have any questions?"

Closed-ended questions are those that are answered with a short response, a yes or a no. There's nothing wrong with this type of question as it can be a good starting point, but they are best followed by open-ended questions. Be sure to ask closed-ended questions that will help you go somewhere. For example: "Is this your first time visiting us?" If the answer is yes, then ask, "How can I help you?" If the answer is no, ask, "What brings you back today?"

Finding something in common makes conversation much easier to direct. Clothing, accessories, articles of possession, hometowns and even shared names are places where people find something in common. 

Directing their attention to something other than the two of you is another way to create conversation. Point out information, displays, upcoming events posted on boards as you walk by, or maybe a pretty, flowering bush outside the office. This is a great way to direct the conversation and get it started. 

Complimenting an individual makes for a great opportunity to build relationships, but make sure the compliment is specific and genuine. "So you're a veteran? Thank you for your service. In which branch did you serve?"

Talking about the weather is an often-used topic, but it really does work! It's disarming and gets the customer talking about something where you can be the expert. 

In summary, being courteous and respectful to all customers is essential to providing extreme customer service, and as you can see from the examples above - fairly simple to do. We can't end this section without talking about the importance of saying thank you. Saying thank you gives you the competitive advantage and can go a long way to forging the relationship, but a Lenox etiquette poll recently found that nearly five out of every 10 people don't always say thanks. Find reasons to thank your customers (and your coworkers), as this final step in being courteous and respectful will really "seal the deal."

Part three of this series will discuss the statement: I go above and beyond.

Other articles in this series:

The Importance of Customer Service, Pt. 1

Communication, Customer Service, Workforce

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Portrait of Ann Merrifield