How Some Employees Drive Away Their Customers
By Tom Borg ©2013
Day in and day out, employees say some stupid things that should get them fired. Instead of the employee being fired, their customers quit. Especially, in today’s economy, one would think that it would be best to be flexible with customers’ requests, and to go the extra mile to satisfy their needs and wants. But alas, the following responses are all too common.
One of the most common statements made is nothing. That is, they see a customer who is communicating the body language of “somebody please help me”, and what does the worker do? He or she avoids looking at the customer and says nothing. Maybe the employee is new on the job and doesn’t feel like he or she could help the person, or maybe they just don’t care. What they need is help in correcting their response. A better way to handle this situation is to ask the simple question, “How can I help to you?” This question is a bridge builder, and a good conversation starter. It gives an opportunity for the customer to communicate his or her needs and wants.
The second witless thing employees say is “We can’t do that.” This statement would be better phrased in this way: “We might not be able to do that, however, here are a few options for you to consider.” The key here is to give the customer options. People like to have a choice. They don’t like to be told what they can’t do, but rather what they can do. By putting it this way, it builds customer relationships, rather than eradicating them.
The next ignorant thing a staff person says is: “If it is not on the shelf we are out of it.” A different way of handling this situation would be to respond with the statement, “Let me check our inventory for that item.” By making the attempt to check for the needed item, it begins to build a service relationship with the customer.
The fourth brainless response to a customer’s call for help is: “I am going on my lunch break.” What this communicates to the customer is that they are an interruption to that employees’ day, and are preventing them from doing something much more important than helping a person who wants to spend their hard earned money. A better way of responding is to simply take care of the request, then take a lunch break. If that is not possible, find another employee who can help the customer.
The final thoughtless set of words an employee can uses to respond to a customer’s request for assistance is: “I don’t think we carry that item anymore.” Once again, it would be recommended that if the employee is in doubt about an item, he or she check the inventory. If it is no longer stocked, be prepared to give the customer the name and location of a few different places where they can purchase the item.
In summary, the number one reason why customers “walk” or “vote with their feet, cross the street, and shop your competitors, is because they get the feeling that the store or business representative does not care. Remember, the ultimate person responsible for making sure employees perform well is the business owner. By educating and training your employees to respond properly to customer requests, you are building the foundation for a successful and profitable business.
Tom Borg is a business growth specialist, consultant and speaker. He is the author of the customer service video training program for young employees aged 16-24 years, titled Simple Strategies for Customer Service.
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