Getting past the customer Friend Zone
At one of my trusted advisor customer service seminars, Gail, a participant who works in a credit union, asked, “How can I be taken more seriously by customers who I know outside of work as friends?” We’d been discussing the importance of growing customer relationships to the point where they see you – not as friend per se – but as a trusted advisor. During the virtual seminar, I pointed out that your customers already have their own friends, and they’re free. Occasionally, friends even expect a friends & family discount.
Conversely, when customers perceive you as being their trusted advisor, your prices become less relevant, and the enhanced respect they have for you makes them more likely to recommend you. Gail’s challenge was she lives in a small community and she knows most of her customers on a personal level. I offered to Gail, “Next time customers call or stop in at your branch, you’ll of course still chat with them as friends. Then at some point transition to, ‘Ok, I need to put on my financial hat and see what I can assist you with today.’”
The line, “I need to put on my (job title) hat…” is a subtle way to let the customer know that you’re now moving into your work role. It’s a reminder that, in addition to being a nice person, you’re also a professional. Now, you’re in a position to get beyond chit-chat and towards doing more business.