In celebration of National Customer Service Week, Oct. 3-7, we’re sharing tips that Ace Hardware associates use to start conversations, build lasting relationships and handle difficult conversations:
- Seize the Moment. Never switch onto autopilot when you’re working with a customer. Always ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now going to make this customer want to come back?”
- Ask Open-Ended Questions.Asking, “Can I help you?” often invites a “no” answer. To develop customer relationships, start a conversation with questions like “What can I help you find?” or “How can I help you?”
- Ask the Extra Question.Many times, an Ace customer may come in asking for a specific part. A perfect way for associates to open up dialogue is to ask, “Out of curiosity, what are you using it for?” Extra questions, that show your interest in a customer, can reveal an opportunity to help them find an alternate product that works better for them and builds trust that leads to a longer term relationship.
- The Customer is Not Always Right, but…even when a customer is wrong, they’re still your customer. Let them be wrong with the dignity and respect they deserve. Give them the benefit of the doubt, avoid arguing or debating and try to identify what the problem really is.
- Master the Art of Recovery. Problems or complaints are opportunities in disguise. Instead of arguing about who’s right or wrong, work to renew your customer’s confidence in you with four steps: Apologize; Take action with an acceptable temporary solution; Make a promise to resolve the problem; Keep your promise.
It’s really about helping your customers get what they want, instead of trying to get what you want. When your focus is on building relationships, instead of conducting transactions, you’ll win customers for life.