A couple of years ago, I experienced an incident that got me thinking about customer service and how people connect or disconnect with others.
My husband and I were meeting with a representative from our Florida condo association. It was the first time we’d met this woman, so we walked into her on-site office and introduced ourselves. We had popped by during her regular office hours to discuss a small repair that required some attention in our condo.
Tammy promptly told us, “We need access to your condo and we didn’t have it last month”. No problem, I thought. Completely understandable that they would need access to check out our condo and the situation so they could correct it. I responded, “Oh, we understand completely and you’re welcome to enter in our absence whenever you need to. Our friends Tom and Marlys (who live in the same complex) have our key and can give you access whenever you need.”
She quickly replied, without skipping a beat, “Well, that doesn’t help us. We need direct access.”
She had a point. And it was lost in her delivery.
Operationally, it would possibly be a headache to contact a third party in our absence (our primary residence is in Canada) to get access to our place. OK, I get it. But her response was so curt. It was so “me” oriented and no consideration to the client, us. My reaction was that I was turned off completely. This was the first time we’d met this woman, and it wasn’t a great impression.
I turned to Steve and said, “Alrighty then. Steve, over to you”, and I let him follow up with her and continue the conversation. I knew that if I pursued it, the outcome wouldn’t be good. There was something about her response that pushed a button in me and totally disconnected. Have you ever felt that? Have you ever done that with a client? Maybe with a colleague, boss, volunteer, or employee?
This experience gave me a chance to step back and ask myself, “what happened?”.
Why did I feel so ticked off, so disconnected to this woman? And what did I learn from this that I could use in exchange with MY clients and that I could share with you for your client relations? Here it is. Here’s what I got out of this situation that I think you’ll find useful. Here’s the one thing that really disconnects …
QUESTION: Are you focusing on YOU vs. the client?
How NOT to DISconnect with clients:
- DON’T present only your viewpoint.
- DO consider and focus on your client’s perspective
- DON’T gloss over the efforts of your client
- DO acknowledge your client’s attempts to meet your needs (even if they don’t)
- DON’T use words like, “that doesn’t help me (us)”
- DO use words like, “Let’s see how we can help YOU”
- DON’T ignore the dynamics of a conversation
- DO be aware of when a client is ticked off, and deflecting your aggression (like saying to a colleague, or husband, “Over to you, Steve”)
It’s all about building relationships.
How are YOU building yours? Use these tips above and I assure you, they will help you connect with your clients. Give them a try and enjoy the benefits to your bottom line AND to your stress levels. Great client relationships help not only the client — they help you too.
© 2013 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Recipient of APEX “Award for Leadership in Service Innovation”
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