If you’ve attended my seminars you know that we often discuss the importance of not trying to become your customer’s pal. Nothing wrong with being friends with customers. Reality is though, many people may not like us because of our age, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation etc. My suggestion is don’t try to be your customers’ or co-workers’ buddy. Instead, strive to be seen as their trusted advisor. Here’s the catch…
We don’t say to others, “I’ll be your Trusted Advisor.” That would be laughable. Our brand is not what we claim it is. Our brand or reputation is what others think it is.
Similarly, it’s counterproductive saying to others, “I’m the kind of person who…” When we use a phrase like that, we’re trying too hard to impose an impression. Unfortunately, it just makes us sound insecure and desperate.
The bottom line is your reputation at work isn’t about whether people like you as a pal. It’s about earning a reputation for reliability. When you make commitments, you keep them. You don’t worry about gaining attention or who gets credit. Instead, you deliver consistently. That’s when people notice you, respect you, recommend you, and consider you to be their Trusted Advisor.
In a perfect world, we’d never disagree with customers, co-workers, or family members. In reality, no matter how much we want to live in harmony, there will be differences of opinion. Our challenge is how do we address conflicts without making the situation worse?
The good news is one simple four-word phrase can help you to gain agreement. Here it is: “Help me understand..." Agreements don’t happen when we defend a position. True harmony comes from people feeling like they’ve been listened to. By saying, help me to understand…you’re indicating your willingness to consider their feelings and actions. That goes a long way to helping them become more receptive to yours.
Question for you and your team about how to strengthen customer relationships: Are you more focused on a) getting customers to like you? Or b) getting customers to feel better about themselves?
We of course want people to like us. Problem is, trying to get customers to like us is akin to trying too hard to impress someone on a date. We’re putting the focus on ourselves, when ironically, we’d be more likeable by focusing on the other person.
Customers love it when you treat them like they are knowledgeable, intelligent adults. They love it when you mention the homework you’ve done about them and their company. Customers especially love it when you actually listen and prove that you remember their preferences.
Bottom line - don’t worry too much about how customers feel about you. Focus on how they feel about themselves when they're around you. Bonus tip - the same can be said about strengthening relationships with your co-workers.
Trusted Advisor Customer Service Video Tip
In a perfect world, we’d never have to deal with angry, vindictive people. In the real world, however, there may be times when you're confronted by unhappy people, either online, on the phone, or in person. The good news is in this video I share 6 strategies for calming cranky customers and having better days.
Conventional customer service wisdom is that customers appreciate service that’s prompt. So you might have a conversation with the customer, then email them the materials they need just before you leave work at the end of the day.
Not the part about doing the work before you leave - but emailing it to a customer at the end of their workday. That timing practically guarantees they’ll ignore it until the next day. But next morning they start receiving other emails, so your message from the night before gets ‘buried’ in their inbox.
The good news is it’s easy to still provide prompt service and have your info at your customer’s top of mind. Just commit to them at the outset that they’ll have the info within 24 hours. Then prepare your email as usual. But just before sending, in Outlook click email options, schedule it to go to the customer about a half hour after they arrive at work. That way it still seems prompt, and they’re more keen on opening it and considering it.
Anther quicktip - since the email will arrive in the morning, begin your email with "Good morning.." vs "Hi..." to make it sound more present and personal.
Bottom line, don’t just try to get something off your plate for a customer. Also keep in mind when they’ll have the appetite to receive it.
You’ve heard, it’s better to give than receive. It’s been my experience that when it comes to advice, most people are indeed more willing to give than receive.
When advising customers, coworkers, or even family members, the challenge is generally people don’t like to be told what to do. Advice may come across as controlling or condescending.
That’s why in my Trusted Advisor seminars, I encourage participants to use what I call the humility advantage©.
It’s about guiding customers while demonstrating your respect for their intelligence. Often it’s just a matter of changing a few words. Consider how you might respond when someone tells you:
You should… vs You might…
I recommend… vs I suggest…
You need to… vs What if…
Ironically, the alternative phrases - being less forceful, create less resistance and have more impact. Being a trusted advisor is less about telling, and more about inviting.
Trusted Advisor Customer Service Video Tip
Companies often claim that they offer friendly service. Sounds good in theory. In this video, however, you and your team will discover how employee perkiness can actually be more annoying than endearing. And you’ll gain customer service tips to earn trust - even with customers who are frustrated.
Chances are, you and your team work hard to take care of customers. At times however, you may need to give customers bad news about delays, price increases, etc. Having trained teams on enhancing customer satisfaction and reducing complaints for over 30 years, I’ve discovered it’s not so much the policies and delays that annoy customers. It’s how we communicate bad news that determines whether we either help customers remain cool-headed, or launch them on a rant.
Check out this video where I share 5 common customer service excuses that bruise your brand. And I provide tips on how to adjust your communications - even when giving bad news - to make everyone’s day go better.