You have seven seconds, and if you fail, rarely is there a second chance. Seven seconds is what we are told we have to make a successful first impression when dealing with people in a face-to -face situation. If you want to increase your chances of retaining customers, here are two key ways: Smile and Listen for Intent.
The first thing is to make sure that the first encounter engages the customer with a Smile. Customers want to feel welcomed. Customers want to be acknowledged and noticed. They want you to show appreciation that they chose to come to your business: whether that is a retail store, doctor’s office, airline, university, CPA firm, etc.
For those online businesses, make your website smile. Welcome customers to your site. Thank them for visiting. If you have a live chat, make sure your representatives greet each customer warmly when they open the chat.
A smile is easy. A smile is contagious. A smile opens the door.
The second thing is to Listen for Intent. I overheard one customer ask a sales rep, “when is your Friday sale?” Sounds like a ridiculous question doesn’t it? The rep could have just replied “that’s a silly question, of course, it is on Friday”. However, the rep very patiently responded, “the Friday sale is on Friday, but we are able to hold any items you would like to purchase beforehand as a pre-sell item.” The rep was listening for the question behind the question.
You are the expert, so ask the “next question.” Many times a customer doesn’t know exactly what they are looking for, so they will ask a broad question. For example, when I was shopping for my daughter a dress, I asked the sales rep “where are your dresses?” The sales rep followed up my question with “Is the dress for you or someone else?” When I responded it was for my daughter, she proceeded to tell me that girl’s dresses were on the third floor and women’s dresses were on the second floor. By asking the next question, she was able to point me in the right direction, but also show me that she was paying attention to me and my needs.
7 seconds is all you have to make a customer or lose a customer. Do a check and see if you and your staff are practicing these two techniques.