“We do not have the time, nor would we want to, answer every question that [our customers] have.”
That’s exactly what someone said to me recently when speaking about how to handle a customer request. Sure, customers/clients/patients are often needy. They ask for extras, exceptions, hand-holding and discounts. They want what they want and it rarely follows a “Customer Service Handbook” protocol. Their unpredictable needs make it hard for a business to stay efficient.
Efficiency is something that most companies strive for. How can we deliver a good product while using the least amount of time, manpower and resources as possible so that we can continue to grow?
The problem with this type of thinking is that the focus the bottom line of the company itself. And people don’t care about a company’s bottom line–they care about what that company is going to do to improve their lives.
There are plenty of options today. I can order shoes from thousands of sites online. I can have a website developed by any number of companies. I can buy my dog’s absurdly expensive organic, HMO-free, grain-free dog food from just about any store that carries dog food.
What keeps me coming back to certain companies and brands is the high-level, positive experience and interactions I have them. Think about the best and worst customer service experiences you’ve had–chances are, you can start to see a pattern in the companies you deem the best and the worst.
Were you able to answer my question quickly while respecting my time or did you keep me on the phone for 30 minutes? Did you go out of your way to do something above and beyond to correct a mistake or did you deny it was your issue and state your policy? Did you acknowledge me on social media when I posted something positive about your brand? Did you treat me like a person or a number? Did you solve my problem?
Standard is everywhere. Today, to be a truly remarkable business, companies have to focus on becoming more than an efficient, well-oiled machine, they have to put extra focus on the customer and the experience they have when interacting with the company. Sometimes, that means answering every question, making yourself available, spending more time and manpower, giving your employees autonomy to solve issues based on incident not protocol or stopping to correct a problem even if the consumers may not even realize it’s a problem in the first place. Sometimes, great customer service means a little bit of inefficiency.
I was once told by a boss that we all needed to look like New York Bankers the day of a major presentation we were giving for a group local businesses (potential clients). We were not in New York and you may have guessed, we were not bankers.
I remember at the time thinking to myself that what my boss meant to tell the group was not that we needed to dress like bankers from New York City, but that we needed to dress in a way that conveyed we were professionals that knew how to present ourselves in the best way possible, which in turn would make the people to whom we speaking more inclined to listen to what we had to say about presenting their own businesses in the best way possible.
The clothes that we wear say a lot about who we are as well as signify many socially important things to others, even if the impression those clothes give is actually unfounded.
I agree, looks can be deceiving. How people dress and present themselves doesn’t always tell the full story and ideally, we would never make a judgement based on appearance alone.
But no matter how great your own ability to do this is, the clothes you wear and the way you present yourself will alter the way other people hear what you have to say. Subconsciously, from that first impression, they will decide whether they will listen to you or ignore you. Trust you or distrust you.
Think of appearance in terms of branding. Picture the aisles of your local grocery store. If an item is an already-trusted brand, a shopper will probably add it the basket with little thought. But when it’s a new product, if he or she notices it at all, they’re likely to be negatively or positively influenced by the package itself–the shape of the box, the colors, typeface, graphics and so on. Packaging itself is such a powerful tool, that, when done correctly, it can influence someone to buy the product.
It’s important to dress in a way that will reflect your authentic self so you can in turn attract the audience you want to target. In other words, the clothes you wear shouldn’t camouflage who you are on the inside, they should communicate the imperative things that makes you you at a glimpse.
Whatever message you’re trying to send to the world, never forget the clothes that you put that message in will determine the way it’s received so dress it carefully. That certainly doesn’t mean that your appearance can’t change from day to day, event to event–it should! It all circles back to living in the present and making conscious decisions.
Dress the message you want to convey.