1. Be present. We have so many responsibilities and distractions that it’s tempting to listen to customers, friends, kids, etc. with only one ear (or half an ear!). You know how it goes: you make the appropriate noises during a client call (“Mmmhmmm… I understand… No, that won’t be a problem…) while simultaneously typing an email to someone else. That’s why giving someone your full attention is so meaningful. Being fully present says, “I really care about you and what you need from me. You are my top priority right now.”
2. Make it simple and clear. People are busier than ever and the more you can make their lives easier the more it shows you care about them and their time. Whether you are making technology easy to use, or simplifying the check in process at a hospital or making it easier to rent a car, simplifying says you care and creates raving fans.
3. Call customers by name. When interacting with a customer, ask his/her name – then remember it and use it. Referring to someone by name demonstrates that you see them as an individual with unique needs and preferences, as opposed to “just a number” or a source of income.
4. Listen more than you talk. When dealing with others many of us have a tendency to give sales pitches, explain company policies or give canned advice. Instead you should ask questions and listen to what they have to say. This lets them know you care about them and their thoughts. It also helps you better understand their concerns so you can help them. I’ve certainly been working on this as a parent. It’s not easy but it makes a difference.
5. Become a coach. More than ever customers wanted to be guided through the process when making a significant purchase. By coaching and guiding customers through the process you will earn their trust and let them know you care about them and their purchase. In a world where many things can be purchased on-line, the biggest differentiator is often a person who cares.
6. Respond quickly and touch base often. It’s simple: Return calls and emails promptly. Whenever possible, try not to leave any unanswered emails or voicemails overnight. And be proactive with updates, too. Don’t force a client to get in touch with you in order to learn the status of an order, for instance. Send daily or weekly updates – whatever is appropriate. We at the Jon Gordon Companies fail at this sometimes but it’s something I am always preaching to my team about and we always own it and improve because of it.
7. Don’t make it all about business. If you don’t treat people like a number they won’t treat you like a number. Make an effort to learn about return clients on a personal level as well as a professional one, and follow up on what you discover. If you know that an individual recently had an important event – a wedding, birthday, or even a big presentation – ask how it went. People are surprised and pleased when you remember what’s going on with them – precisely because the assumption today is that most people don’t care about what’s going on outside their own bubbles.
8. Focus on the details. A Starbucks executive was asked why they were so successful. He said that they do a hundred things 10 percent better than their competition. When you care everyone matters and everything matters. By focusing on the details such as clean bathrooms in a restaurant or clean sheets and extra towels at a hotel, it lets your customers know that you care.
9. Always go the extra mile. Constantly look for ways to make the service you provide just a little bit better. Even one percent more time, energy, or focus can make a big difference. Even something small like walking a customer to the door after checking them out or spending extra time with a student if you are a teacher or calling a patient after they visit your health clinic means a lot. For example, Oceanside Cleaners near my home replaces missing buttons on my dress shirts at no extra charge. It’s the little things that mean a lot.