By: Marlena Jasso, VP of Operations
1) Communicate Often and Honestly.
This is true for both internal and external interactions. Whether you’re providing updates to your staff, partners, or customers, don’t wait to communicate. Establishing regular dates and times for updates reassures both internal and external teams that their ideas, concerns, or accounts are treated as utmost priorities. It’s far less stressful for everyone when you communicate in smaller, more frequent intervals. Waiting until you have one large resolution (or all of the answers) not only makes the customer wait longer for information, but increases his or her frustration.
2) Mistakes – Ownership and Resolution
All companies are made up of humans and humans have a 100% chance of making a mistake at some point. The good news is that customers know this, so that isn’t the real problem. The problem occurs when companies don’t take accountability for their actions. The same also goes for anyone who is an extension of your company. For example, at Autosled, there are over 11,000 drivers who are not Autosled employees, but represent Autosled to our customers. If one of them makes a mistake, Autosled takes accountability for it – whether it’s a simple typo or a driver running late. Mistakes happen, own them quickly and do your best to rectify them. Nothing is more infuriating to a customer than an employee who won’t acknowledge that the company has failed to meet expectations.
3) Be Human
Empathy is not the same thing as sympathy. You don’t have to sympathize with everyone in order to understand what they are dealing with. Using Autosled as an example, let’s say a vehicle was being shipped as a surprise birthday gift, but the driver gets stuck in a snowstorm in the Midwest. You can’t control the weather, but you can seek to empathize with that customer’s disappointment and frustration. Acknowledging a customer’s feelings can go a long way, even when nothing can be done.
4) Be Professional
This should be the default for every customer conversation but it still warrants saying. Always be professional! If a customer is expressing heightened emotions, maintaining an attitude of professionalism throughout the conversation helps to de-escalate the situation.
5) Listen More Than You Talk
Customers want to be heard. This isn’t possible if they’re spending the entire conversation listening to your staff talk. Ask questions- both for context and clarity. Help paraphrase what they’re saying. Example: “So, if I’m understanding you correctly, your biggest concern is ______. Is that right?” Customers want their point of view to be validated.
6) Under Promise and Over Deliver
Setting expectations upfront is key to customer satisfaction. Always tell people what you can do, and never what you can’t. If you need to double check with a manager or different team at your company regarding an issue, do that before giving an update to the customer. At Autosled, we often check in with drivers personally for status updates. It’s more important to be accurate with your information, than to simply tell the customer what they want to hear.
7) Understanding Various Needs
For the team here at Autosled, this means understanding the needs of both our dealers and our transporters in detail. It’s only from that basis of knowledge that we can work to accommodate both sets of customers. For example, many transporters speak Russian or Ukrainian, which isn’t something we’ve found as common among our retail dealership customers. In order to support our growing transporter network, we hired full-time staff that are fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, amongst other languages. This met a need that was expressed from that part of our customer base.
8) Tailored Solutions
Take the time to understand their individual needs and preferences. Remember, what might work for a large customer may not necessarily be the ideal solution for a smaller business. It’s important to customize your approach and offer solutions that align with their specific circumstances. By focusing on personalization and attentiveness, you can ensure that your clients receive the most suitable care for their operations.
9) Give Knowledge Freely
Embrace a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration. Recognize that sharing a solution, even if it’s not perfect, can lead to collaborative problem-solving and ultimately provide the best outcome for your customers. It fosters trust, strengthens the relationship, and demonstrates your commitment to their success. Remember, perfection is not always attainable, but through collaboration and transparency, you can work together with your customers to find the most suitable and effective solutions.
10) Be Present
This is just sound advice for all interpersonal relationships and interactions, but it can become the difference between a win or a loss for your business. When interacting with people, answering phone calls or emails needs to wait. True emergencies are an exception, but most phone calls and emails do not fall into that category. Respect the people you are meeting with and the time they’ve chosen to give to you. This applies to internal and external staff, customers and partners. Be present and available so that you both can gain the most out of every interaction.
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