In metaphorical terms, a gateway often describes a way to something better or a way to improve yourself or your business. You’ve doubtlessly heard someone talk about how a certain experience or trying a food was a “gateway” experience for them.
The same could be said for customer service. There are five gateways to improved customer service that 3C Contact Services follows and we are passing on to our partners. Passing through these gateways has allowed us to become one of the top providers of outsourced call center solutions in North America.
Gate 1: Likeability: There’s a reason why this is the top gate: a customer is far more likely to trust and listen to you if they like you. If your customer likes your product or service, as well as the agent selling it, they will make a purchase; this is one of the biggest factors in making the all-important good first impression. In order to establish yourself as being likeable, here’s what you need to do:
- Smile. This sends a positive message to the customer.
- Be “in the moment.” If the client feels you are distracted, they will lose interest.
- Ask relevant questions and listen without interrupting.
- Provide feedback. This shows that you’ve taken an interest in the customer’s concerns and you understand the importance of any issues they may have.
Gate 2: Credibility: A credible sales agent displays experience and knowledge, as well as the necessary credentials. In order to pass through this gate, you have to first establish your credibility. To establish credibility, you must:
- Share your agents’ education and experience.
- Keep up to date with the latest developments in your industry. This shows you have your finger on the pulse of your market.
- Include testimonials from your satisfied customers and clients. Also monitor the Web for any positive feedback your organization received and link to it.
Gate 3: Respect: Showing genuine interest in a customer’s ideas is one of the biggest ways you can show them respect. Each time you fulfill a promise, your customer’s respect will increase. After you’ve established your credibility with a client, they will feel more comfortable sharing personal and professional information; this is called a “needs analysis.” Your agents will be able to gather valuable information based on each of the three gates they have passed through so far.
In order to establish respect, you must do the following:
- Give the customer a short agenda that will give them a rough idea of the topics to be covered. This will give the customer the chance to decide if they have time to discuss the topics at that time or if they need another call. Alternately, if your work environment allows it, you can have a discussion via e-mail or instant messenger.
- Regardless of whether or not the customer is calling you or you’re calling them, be available at the time you scheduled; the same goes for e-mail and instant messenger. Avoid lengthy small talk and get right down to business.
- Prepare any needs analysis questions in advance, listen to their answers, and do not interrupt! Interrupting a customer destroys credibility.
- Before you address a question, repeat the customer’s answer or own question to clarify what they said.
- Never say anything negative about the competition. Simply say they are good professionals, but that your products or services are superior.
- After you complete the needs analysis call, summarize what was discussed, highlighting the prominent points of the call.
Gate 4: Trust: Once you’ve provided consistent service and delivered on your promises, you’ve earned your customer’s trust. From there, you can assure your client that a solution geared specifically to them has been created.
To establish trust, you must:
- Offer a comprehensive recap at the end of the needs analysis and hit as many relevant points as possible.
- Explain how the process of determining the best solution for them worked.
- Be honest about the product’s strengths and don’t be afraid to let them know whether or not it is right for them. Offer alternatives if it is not.
Gate 5: Belief: Now that you’ve moved through gates one through four, belief is the final gate your customer will pass through, transforming a contact into a client now that you know how to close the interaction.