Customer service is essentially the provision of exceptional service to customers prior to, during, and even after a sale. The perceptions of the success of these interactions largely depend on how well employees “can adjust themselves to that of the customer”. It also hinges on whether or not customers perceive the salesperson as being personable or as needing to incessantly repeat themselves to each new customer. This article will focus on a single idea: understanding your customers and knowing when it is not appropriate to cater to them.
I recently conducted a job interview with a young woman who was seeking a position in sales. In the end, I learned that this young woman was not really interested in learning how to solve problems. Instead, her biggest problem was being repeatedly called by the same tired salesperson. This demonstrated to me that in order to create a good customer service experience, you must understand your potential customers. By understanding what they need and want, you can then provide for their needs and requests.
One of my goals in the job interview was to help the candidate identify her core strengths and weaknesses and build upon those strengths while simultaneously identifying the problems that she needed to address. To do this, we asked her to complete a job satisfaction survey that we had created online prior to the interview. In the survey, she indicated that she was satisfied with her sales career but felt that she was lacking in being able to solve problems for customers. We needed to make sure that she understood how important solving problems for customers could be to her potential for success.
While discussing this issue with the candidate, the interviewer pointed out that the only way she would be able to accomplish this task would be if the customers’ needs and requests were understood. We then went on to explain to her that in order to have a truly good customer service position, she must become an “answerer.” What I mean by this is that she must be able to listen to and address clients’ concerns as they were making them.
This concept hit me right away as I was reading James Freeman Clarke’s book “The Social Media Whisperer.” This book explained that interviewers want candidates who are “good with people.” They want candidates who can handle social media. This became very obvious during the interview when the interviewers repeatedly asked the candidate to explain the “wheel” and how it worked.
It became clear from the above examples that the interview questions asked for the candidates to demonstrate their empathy toward their customers’ problems. However, many companies make the mistake of not using appropriate empathy during recruiting processes. This is the wrong approach and a huge mistake. Empathy is not something that can be taught or cultivated. The applicant must develop her or his own customer service skills in order to effectively sell the company and gain employment.