This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Dennis Snow shares his story of a truly amazing customer service shopping experience. As a fellow reluctant shopper, I can appreciate customer service and true professionalism at its best! – Shep Hyken As a “certified reluctant shopper,” a recent shopping experience was a pleasant […]
This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Dennis Snow shares his story of a truly amazing customer service shopping experience. As a fellow reluctant shopper, I can appreciate customer service and true professionalism at its best! – Shep Hyken
As a “certified reluctant shopper,” a recent shopping experience was a pleasant surprise. This experience showcased customer service at its best and at its most simple. I was reminded that great service isn’t about grand acts. It’s about common courtesy, artfully delivered.
While visiting Chicago, I needed a pair of dress shoes (I had forgotten mine), and found myself in a store called the Walking Company. It was crowded, so I almost left. But one of the salespeople made eye contact with me. It was eye contact that said, “Please don’t leave, I’ll be right with you.” It was good eye contact.
A couple of minutes later, the salesperson walked up and said, “Sorry about the wait. Let’s get you some shoes.” I showed her the pair I wanted and asked to try a size 10. She said, “Let’s measure your foot just to make sure.” I know I wear a size 10, but it was clear she wanted to make sure I got the right shoes.
She measured my foot and said, “Size 10 is right, but the shoes you’ve selected won’t be the most comfortable for you. I think this other style would feel much better.” I looked at the price of her suggested shoes to see how much she was upselling me. Same price. With nothing to lose, I tried on the style she suggested and had to admit they were extremely comfortable.
The salesperson continued to wow me. She said, “If you ever buy a pair of shoes somewhere else, be sure to tell the salesperson that the arches in your foot have fallen, and you need shoes with arch support – like these.”
Impressed with the service, I asked if there was a Walking Company in Orlando, where I live. “Absolutely. At the Millennium Mall.” Since then, I’ve purchased two more pair of shoes there, always with great service. I can’t imagine buying shoes anywhere else.
Let’s look at what this salesperson did that made this a great shopping experience. I’ll analyze the details in a moment, but one word sums up her style – professional. She was a professional in every sense of the word. Her skills would apply to any business.
1. Professionals are responsive. When I entered the store, the salesperson made immediate eye contact. It was sincere and that said, she cared I was there. As soon as she finished with her customer, she came right over to help me, apologizing for the wait. The store was busy, but everyone was being helped. The salespeople had mastered the art of handling more than one customer at a time while making each customer feel valued.
2. Professionals are knowledgeable. This salesperson knew about shoes; I know very little about shoes. So she took charge of the situation and made sure that I was getting shoes that were right for me. I benefited from her knowledge. By briefly talking to me, she realized she could make a recommendation – that I was flexible. Professionals read the situation and adapt to the personality and needs of the customer. All of this means knowing your product. Professionals are constantly learning about their products and their customers. The only way my Walking Company salesperson could steer me to the right shoes was by knowing the shoes. Professionals know their stuff.
3. Professionals care My Walking Company salesperson could have easily brought me the pair of shoes I originally asked for. But she wasn’t selling shoes – she was selling the right shoes for me. Professionals aren’t happy just selling a product. They want it to be the right product for the customer.
4. Professionals teach you something I left the Walking Company knowing more than when I walked in. I now know to ask for extra arch support in my shoes. Not a big deal, but I will always remember that advice.
Think of some of your best service experiences: the waiter who made the perfect recommendation or the computer helpdesk that gave you a tip on how to make an application more effective. In most cases of outstanding service, the employee left you more knowledgeable than when he or she found you. The new information might not change your life (though it could), but it does make your life a tad better.
Conclusion: Being a true professional takes thought and effort. But, once you are truly professional, you can go just about anywhere. The skills are universal, and they are rare. True professionals stand out from the crowd and grow rewarding and satisfying careers. And the customers of the world know when one is at work.
Dennis Snow is the president of Snow & Associates, Inc. Dennis worked with the Walt Disney World Company for twenty years and now consults with organizations around the world helping them achieve their customer service goals. He is the author of two books, “Lessons From the Mouse: A Guide for Applying Disney World’s Secrets of Success to Your Organization, Your Career, and Your Life” (DC Press) and “Unleashing Excellence: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Customer Service.” (Wiley).
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