The Sunday Mail
Everyone is unique, so are our customers.
Our customers are our valuable asset and we need to handle them with kid gloves. Organisations must know their customers so that they are able to give them the appropriate treatment worthy the kings in them.
In most organisations there is always a gap when serving customers due to lack of customer knowledge. It is, therefore, important to have knowledge about the customers but it is equally important to also know how to manage them in a way that is not offending or that will drive them away.
We are all customers one way or the other. We have different personalities and react differently to similar situations.
Take a pause and think about the customers you encounter in your daily business life and note the different personalities that they possess. These different personalities make it very impossible for organisations to give a standardised approach when dealing with them.
Since there is no universal patent recipe for that, customers require different unique sets of skills to handle them. Prosperous businesses know the different personalities possessed by their different customers and they know how to manage them effectively.
There are probably a dozen or more types of customers but I will dwell on the most common that we meet often in the business world.
The talkative customer
A talkative customer is usually a chatty, cheerful and friendly customer who can talk your ear off. Such a customer can easily switch a business call into a social call.
The social call may end discussing sports, politics, entertainment or even weather. This is not a bad thing as it helps in cementing the organisation and customer relationship.
In business creating a relationship with your customers precedes trust as it inspire loyalty, future spending and referrals. However, during busy moments such social conversations can really get unexciting as they become a disturbance.
It tends to affect some other customers who might also be waiting to be served by the same employee or employees. Here is how one can manage this type of personality:
Managing a talkative customer
Never dismiss OR be rude to a customer because he or she is talkative: In fact, be nice to them by expressing a genuine interest, which will make them feel most welcome. Ask a few personal questions that only require straight answers. For instance, you can simply greet them and ask them how their day is. The question is personal but attracts a brief response that will not kill time for other waiting customers.
Smile and be polite but do not encourage them: This is only achievable by re-directing them to the purpose of their visit. While re-directing them the employee must be cheerful and pleasant. However, if the customer is presenting a problem do not interrupt them rather smile, be polite and re-phrase their problem and offer a solution on how to solve the problem at hand.
Ask close-ended questions: Open questions tend to encourage them to talk more while close-ended questions require short responses. Short responses does not give the customer a chance to talk about issues that are unrelated to their purpose of visit as well as rambling. This, therefore, saves time and improves the efficiency of services by the employee as they give more attention to the customer’s cause of visit.
Give minimal responses: This can only be possible if the employee is assertive and can take control of the conversation. Drive the conversation and restate the relevant information. Minimal responses must be diplomatic and should be given accompanied by a friendly smile, lest they will be misconstrued as being mean answers.
Avoid long pauses: Talkative customers must not be given opportunities to start new conversations and this can only be achieved by offering short pauses in-between the discussion.
Some customers find it hard to make a decision at once on whether to buy or not to buy a product or service. This is caused by doubt or lack of confidence by the customer.
They tend to be never satisfied with the decision they may eventually make and may keep on changing decisions. In spite of their inability to make a concrete decision at once, organisations still strive to do business with them.
Managing an indecisive customer
Find out what they really want: Customers who suffer from indecision can be managed by simplifying their concerns. By finding out what they really want, the employee can offer the customer comprehensive information about the service or product in question.
This will not only make the customer gain trust but confidence as the service provider may have displayed excellent, convincing product knowledge.
Ask them for the options: Some customers may be indecisive on areas like quality, price or even materials used. Instead of letting them go, one can ask them if they have options and if they indicate practical options that is within the organisation’s range then it can be offered instead. An organisation’s employees must be open minded so that customers must freely suggest their options.
Be logical and gain the customer’s trust: Once a customer has developed a trust with a certain organisation, he or she will not have doubts when making a decision to buy from them. For such a type of customer to develop trust ,it would be after they have dealt with the organisation for a long time and developed positive customer experience and a super service or product satisfaction.
Involve them in problem solving: This type of customer require full attention. This include involving them in coming up with a solution as this will help them in confidence-building. It makes them feel like they are part of the service or product that they intend to purchase.
Know your customers and be empowered!
In our next series we will look at the other type of customers and the best way to handle them.
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461