It’s said that it takes only 7 seconds for someone to form an opinion of you, and that once formed, it’s really hard to change those snap judgements. If that’s true, those customer service first impressions had better be pretty great if you want to turn your prospects into customers and your customers into raving fans who return, and bring friends. It starts with bringing your natural care and warmth to work with you and showing it to your customers. To start with, Smile, make eye contact, and be fully present to those customers in front of you.
Here are 5 Tips to Make Red Carpet Customer Service First Impressions
- Learn and Use Customers’ Names: When you learn and use your customer’s name, you take your interaction from a transactional level to a human level. As motivational leader Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” There are a number of ways to learn the name of the person in front of you. It may be on a driver’s license or credit card they’ve handed you. You could sneak a peek at their luggage tag. Perhaps it’s on some paperwork. Or, you could simply ask. The trick is to learn it and use it, as appropriate. When you don’t know (or can’t remember) their name, use Ma’am, Miss or Sir, rather than “honey, sweetie or dear.” While you make think of those as terms of “endearment,” they often come across as condescending and thoughtless. To make the best customer service first impressions, make the effort to learn and use their actual names.
- Know Your Stuff: The more people your customers have to interact with to get answers to their questions, the less impressive your service levels become. Take the time to learn more about the products and services your company offers. If you’re a leader in your organization, find creative ways to educate your team on your offerings. For instance, my team and I are currently designing some food service training for a country club in Kentucky, which will include tastings, and a wine seminar, in an effort to get their servers intimately acquainted with their menu. Think about frequently asked questions that come from your customers and have, at your finger tips, the correct responses. The more you know, the more “red carpet” that first impression will be.
- Stand Up Straight: Seriously. Refrain from leaning – against walls, on your desk, at the reception area or anywhere. When customers see employees standing around, leaning against walls and furniture it communicates boredom, lack of energy and a lack of something to do. Not a great first impression. Instead, stand straight, be present and aware and show your customers that you are red carpet ready and eager to help!
- Invite Them Back: This is the dream, right? Customers who return again and again, and bring their friends? Make it a practice to wish them well, thank them for coming and let them know how much you look forward to seeing them again soon! The exception to this rule may be in healthcare, when inviting them back may mean you’re wishing illness on your patient. Instead, invite them to stay in touch. For instance, “If you ever have questions, you can reach me at….” or “Don’t be a stranger! Come back and see us anytime so we can celebrate your good health with you!”
- Watch Your Language: You can elevate those customer service first impressions by simply upgrading your language a little. Stay on the positive side. Trade in “no problem” or “no worries” for “my pleasure” or “happy to help.” For more ideas to help you elevate your customer service language read Customer Service Phrases: Say This, Not That and More Customer Service Phrases: Say This.
These are just a few tips to help you take your customer service first impressions to the red-carpet level! Try them out and let me know how they’re working for you by commenting below. Or let us know what your tips are for making red carpet first impressions. We love to hear your ideas!
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. and she leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders engage their teams to take their employee and customer experience to the next great level. She’s the author of two books on customer service including her Amazon bestseller, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. Download our 22-page free Engagement Toolkit, which provides you with ideas to engage your teams to improve the customer experience. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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