New customers are a lot like making a new friend. You need to make sure that you are making a good impression. After all, the goal here is to have a great relationship. So it stands to reason that you want to make a great impression right from the start.
My regular readers will know the importance of the subconscious experience, and this is an important aspect to master.
Here are five tips on how you can make a great impression on your new customer:
1. Remember that body language says a lot. If you are talking to the customer face to face, it’s important that your body language supports an environment of helpfulness and attentiveness. Be aware of your posture, your arm position and your facial expression. Some organizations go so far as to give you hand positions and go-to motions (stroking your chin thoughtfully, as an example) that indicate you are listening. Avoid hands on hips or crossed arms, which are both nonverbal cues that you are aggressive or not interested. It’s also a good idea to match posture voice and words to theirs as most of us prefer to be with people who are the most like us.
2. When it comes to eye contact, make it a focus. Eye contact helps you establish that you are interested in a person. Since you want your new customer to know that you are interested in them, it’s a good idea to look them in the eye when you talk to them. If this isn’t natural for you, try to remember to look at your customer’s eyes long enough to figure out what color they are. That’s usually long enough to get the ball rolling. Looking down or away is a subconscious signal that you are not interested or hiding something, neither of which are a great way to make a good impression on the customer.
3. Smile, even if you don’t want to. Let’s face it: we don’t always feel like being cheerful and helpful. It’s natural to have moods that get in the way of your customer experience goals. It is important, however, when you are trying to make an impression on a customer that it is a positive one at the outset. So smile, even when you would rather not. Many positive attitude speakers and sales gurus will tell you that you should “fake it until you make it.” I agree. You may start with less than a sincere smile, but you will likely find that it becomes more genuine over time.
4. Remember that it isn’t about you, it’s about them. Customers are as the potential date you are trying to impress. You want them to know that they are the focus of this interaction. For example, imagine that a customer turns in their rental car with a story about a narrow escape with the law about their lack of a front license plate on the car you gave them. Try to remember that while your story about the time you talked your way out of a ticket in Colorado is pretty entertaining, this is not the time to share it. It is, however, a good idea to be empathetic and try the feel, felt, found approach that Apple Geniuses have mastered.
5. Admit that you don’t know when you don’t but commit to a solution plan. In some customer-facing positions, you meet customers once they have a problem. Customers want to feel cared for, especially when the have a concern or a problem with your product or service. If you are in over your head, don’t panic or abandon them to get help immediately. Focus on getting the details right about the situation, apologize that they are having this problem, and tell them what you are going to do before you do it (like put them on hold or find your supervisor). Focusing on hearing what they have to say will help them be more patient when you are trying to fix the problem.
Making a great impression on your customers is not that different from asking your potential date out, or making a friend at a social event, or networking with others at a business function. These tried and true methods will help you make a great impression with your customers, and lay the foundation for their return business.
||Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 150 Business Influencers in the world. He is an international author of four best-selling books on Customer Experience. Colin’s company, Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from our Global Headquarters in Tampa, Florida, USA.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX