“Friendship Selling” For Customer Service

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 22, 2009

The customer was doing business at the store for the first time. She had recently met the owner and wanted to patronize his business.

The store was impressive, but the employees seemed somewhat indifferent as the new customer browsed through. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong, but there just wasn’t anything particularly right either.

Several weeks later, the owner of the store introduced his friend to several of his employees. On the customer’s next visit to the store, the previously indifferent employees, greeted her warmly and couldn’t have been nicer.

A lot has been written about customer service lately, but there is really only one rule that your employees need to remember. “Treat the customers like they were the owner’s best friends.”

You can’t develop procedures that will apply to all situations, but you can develop a philosophy which will form the basis for making good decisions concerning customer service. “Treating customers like best friends” is such a philosophy. It’s a principle that any sales person can apply to most any situation. The results will be good.

Think about it. What companies do you like to do business with? Aren’t they the businesses that treat you special.

Don’t you like to shop where you are known and treated more like a friend rather than as an anonymous customer? You can’t always be known, but some sales people have a way of treating you like a friend right from the start.

“Friendship selling” is a principle that can be applied to all businesses. Depending on the ages and the situations, the principle may need some variation, but it can always be made to work. To achieve superior customer service, all sales people should develop this orientation.

Begin by treating the customer like they are the owner’s best friend. If you’re the owner, pretend the customer is your long lost best friend.

If your sales people are young and the customers are older, have your sales people treat the customers like they are their fiancé’s parents. If the age is the other way around, have your older sales people pretend the customers are their grandchildren.

Develop an orientation that makes that customer a VIP before you ever set eyes on them. A customer is not just a faceless entity at the other end of the phone. A customer is more than just another somebody who walks in off the street.

The reality is inescapable. We all like to be treated special. When we are, we buy more and feel better about it. Important people and friends get treated better, so start treating customers like they are your best friends. You’ll soon find they are!

While most businesses would deny it, the truth of the matter is that the average customer is treated like just another body on an endless conveyor belt. That’s bad enough, but tolerable. But being treated as average while others are fussed over is particularly irritating. While VIP treatment is nice, it can uncomfortable if it’s obvious that someone else isn’t being treated as well.

The most comfortable and productive environment is where the feelings of friendship, respect, and importance are the norm, not the exception. When you are treated as warmly on your first visit as you are on your tenth visit. When you are treated with respect whether you are buying or just looking. When you are given as much attention after you place the order as you were given before you placed the order.

If the key to good customer service is treating your customers like friends, how should you handle your adversaries? Be honest, we all have disputes. Your objective should be to conduct your business so that your adversaries don’t become your enemies.

The marketplace provides a positive incentive. Nobody makes money from their enemies! If you’re a good business person, the obvious principle is “don’t make enemies”.

It’s not always easy to walk away from a fight, particularly if you’re convinced you ‘re right. Outside of the momentary satisfaction, there is rarely any long term benefit to pointlessly pounding the other guy with your principles.

With the daily frustrations that we all must deal with, that’s a tall order. But if there is a profit motive to support you, maybe you have a better chance. When you minimize the number of enemies that you have in the world, your business will probably get better. But for sure, your health and happiness will improve

Because its your business, remember that friendship sells and enemies don’t buy.

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