Sunday 31st May 08:39

Customer Care: Moments of Truth

mot02_142Jan Carlzon of the Scandinavian Airline, SAS, said that every contact with a customer is a chance to influence them to like you or dislike you. In the airline’s case, there were over 50,000 of these opportunities every day. Carlzon called them “moments of truth” and here is how you can make sure they are always going to result in customer delight.

1. Give Your Customers Plenty of Strokes

People love to be stroked. Just like domestic pets, we like it when we are fussed at, smiled at, and given gentle touches. Strokes can include any greeting, the use of people's names, and good wishes of the "Have-a-nice-day" kind. But the best stroke you can give others is your undivided attention.

2. Surprise Them with the Unexpected

If you want to really stand out in the eyes of your customers, here’s a trick that will work every time: give them something they don’t expect. When you give something extra that isn’t in the original deal, the value of your product or service soars. British Airways airline discovered that passenger goodwill increases when staff do unexpected extras such as spontaneous conversations or invitations to visit the flight deck. These have to remain extras and not the norm if they are to retain their surprise value.

3. Attend To the Little Things

Paying attention to the little things which don't directly affect the main service is a way of saying: "If we look after the little things, just think what we'll do with the big ones." Such detail includes sparkling washrooms that you could eat your meals from and customer notices that don't talk down to people.

4. Anticipate Customers’ Needs

In a survey of airport check-in staff, customers rated the best staff as those who anticipated their needs. These were staff who would routinely glance down the queue and anticipate the different needs customers had, from the grandmother needing help with her luggage to the business executive on her phone wanting a quick service. Then, when these people arrived at their moment of truth, staff would be ready to do something that made the service personal to the customer.

5. Always Say “Yes”

Great customer-carers never turn down a request for help. Even if they can't do it themselves, they'll know someone who can and put you onto them. They always use positive language. Even if the answer is "No, we're closed", it's expressed as "Yes, we can do that first thing tomorrow for you."

6. Treat Them the Same by Treating Them Differently

We hate to see others get better customer service than we do, for example, when people get quicker service in a restaurant while we are left waiting. It makes us feel second-class and devalued. Equally, we don't want to be treated the same as everyone else if that means getting a standard, soulless response, as you sometimes get in a fast-food restaurant. The secret to making everyone feel important is to treat them the same by treating them differently with their own different needs.

7. Use Tact with Tact

Tact means using adroitness in handling other people's feelings. It should be your standard response to awkward or embarrassing moments in customer service. Tact saves everyone's blushes. It's something your customers will notice but that you should aim to go unnoticed. As the advert says, tactful people don’t make a drama out of a crisis.

Practise these 7 responses until they are as familiar to you as breathing, and you are guaranteed to have customers queuing up for your attention.

More Resources on Customer "Moments of Truth"

Discover 1001 ways to wow your customers here.

Read an interview with Jan Carlzon and how he turned Scandinavian Airlines around here.

Download your copy of the MTL Moments of Truth SkillBooster here.