Wanted: “Customer Service Personality”

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Frontline staff need to possess the requisite skills in order to succeed.

How your frontline staff engage customers can make or break your store. Most customers assume their local shops will have a bigger focus on customer-care excellence. However, this isn’t always the case. Big box retailers also recognize the value of customer engagement. It all boils down to how your employees relate to your customers.

Successful sales efforts should be focused, target-oriented and goal-driven. Frontline staff need to possess the requisite skills to make selling results-oriented, and enjoyable.

Customer service

Engagement starts from the moment a customer steps into your store. They should be pleased by the attention shown by your staff. Feeling important and welcome are two of our most basic needs.

Contrast this with a store in which the sales staff rush around, converse with each other, but have no interaction or communication with the customers. Their peripheral vision allows them to see the customer approaching, and they quickly make a beeline for the stock room in a clear act of avoidance.

The initial engagement, and how the engagement commences, determines how the rest of the shopping experience will go.

“We look for natural customer service personalities, and we do our own training,” explains Frank Howard, Owner of Taunton Tire in Oshawa, Ont. “I don’t hire from other locations. We find it very difficult to find someone who suits our style, which is customer service first. We start with customer service-oriented staff and we educate them on the products so they can educate the customers. You can’t teach customer service. We’ve never been able to, so we find that quality in the individuals we hire, and we build from there.”

Sales trainer Duane Marino advises store owners to always be on the lookout for quality sales staff. “Recruiting is basically finding good people, and you have to be looking for people when you are not looking,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter what they are doing, for instance, if you are out in a restaurant and you get some great service, or you are buying a pair of shoes. You are always looking for quality people, and these are great opportunities to recruit good people.

“The internet has changed the way everyone buys, so logically it should change the way you sell. Some customers know more than your sales people, and most are now ready to buy when they walk into your store. Sales staff need to have good product knowledge and strong customer service skills,” explains Marino.

Salespeople have always had to be confident—but there’s a big difference between confidence fueled by ego and confidence backed by facts and research.

Today’s informed buyers don’t want to be sold to with empty rhetoric. Solid facts and personal relevance will earn their respect.

Engaging customers

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools available for engaging customers. Experienced salespeople are an incredibly rich source of real-life anecdotes that can demonstrate user cases, issues, and possible complications. No two sales conversations are the same – but the ability to draw upon the experience and selectively present relevant stories is a highly creative skill that helps establish a real connection with customers.

Great salespeople have always instinctively known and practiced this. But it’s the connectedness and information saturation of today’s world that make these ‘renaissance’ selling skill imperative today.

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