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Going above and beyond #thatextramile – Part 1

30 January 2019Myra Knoesen

When you deal with customers and/or clients, growing and maintaining long term client relationships goes beyond good customer service.

If a business and its employees really care about clients, they will also care and stay loyal. It is important that client relationships are nurtured, and clients receive the best care at every point of sale, including during and especially after the sales process.

An integral part of our job

Anton Schutte, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® says excellent customer service an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it.

Schutte shared some tips on what excellent customer service should entail:

  1. Know who is in charge. You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it is your customers want. Not what you think they want; what they really want. (I know that sometimes a company will tell customers what they want because customers are not always aware of their needs or wants, especially where a ground-breaking innovative product / technology is concerned). When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salaries and makes your job possible. What customers think is true. Unfortunately, the customer isn’t always right! Understand that they will hold on to their truth and do not fight to change their mind. Apologize and then try to come up with a satisfactory solution.
  2. Listen! Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they feel. Beware of making assumptions - thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. Do you know what three things are most important to your customer? It happens virtually every time when I am at a supermarket check-out and I proactively say cheque or credit card that the cashier asks me again. They don’t listen!
  3. Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don't buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to problems. They also don’t do business with a company; they deal with people that they know, like and trust. Yes, your brand may help but who is the face representing the brand? Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming needs.
  4. Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. Your words and actions should be consistent.
  5. Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world's best systems for getting things done, but if customers don't understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don't reduce the human element of your organization.
  6. Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.
  7. Know how to apologize. Customers will complain to friends, on social media, and even sometimes to you. Your business reputation is only as good as your customer’s last experience. Everyone that interacts with your customers should understand this. When something goes wrong, apologize. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable. And remember: You have a good chance to retain a customer who complains. The ones who don’t complain and vote with their feet are the ones who should keep you awake at night!

In part two of the article we will cover the remaining seven tips on what excellent customer service should entail.

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