June 28, 2011
Customer service is child’s play
You have heard the expression “All I have ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” Well, I learned the most valuable skill I have ever needed to know about providing excellent customer service by teaching kindergarten. My background in child development has taught me many things, but the technique I apply the most is actively listening.
Engage your customer
Customers have different needs. We should never assume we know what they want before they tell us. Ask them questions, listen to their answers and then mirror their responses back to them. This is a way to check for understanding, to make sure we are properly identifying their needs.
People want to be heard
Customers feel valued when we take the time to listen to them. Acknowledge their needs. Even if we can’t provide exactly what they want, taking the time to validate their request helps build the relationship. Suggest other options they may not have thought of that you are able to provide. If the customer is angry, remain calm and try to identify the emotion they are expressing (anger, disappointment) in a non-judgmental way, and ask them to suggest a solution that would make them happy. Children and customers are usually pretty good at coming up with their own solutions. If it is reasonable, do it!
Sure, this sounds easy, but pay close attention to your thoughts. We may be so excited to sell our product that we are not taking the time to identify our customer’s needs. Be sure to stay and focused and in the moment. Instead of listening, are you actually chopping at the bit to continue your sales pitch? If so, what comes out of your mouth next could be an inappropriate response to the conversation; your customer will know you weren’t listening, possibly causing you to lose a potential customer. If you push your agenda, customers (and children) will see right through this.