Are you really “here to help?”

 

To follow in a similar vein to my last blog, I was in a well-known Swedish furniture store the other week with my Better Half, looking to buy some book-cases.

After piling our trolley with what we needed, at the check-out we were greeted by a girl wearing a name-badge containing the slogan “Here to help…”

As I made to pay, she asked “Have you got one of our family loyalty cards?”

“No,” I said - and that was that.

So she proceeded to wait for me to key in my PIN number.

But my Better Half decided to offer her an olive branch – otherwise known as a gilt-edged buying signal – in the shape of a question. “What is a family card?”

Without even looking at us, she said: “It gives you discounts on purchases and life insurance on what you buy.”

And that was it! That was the full extent of her sales pitch to us about the family loyalty card. After that she simply handed me my receipt and waited for the next customer to push their trolley up to her.

I took one last glance at her “Here to help…” badge, and made for the exit.

I looked at my Better Half and she looked at me. “So, do you know what a family loyalty card is?”

“Not really,” she said. “Which is a shame really, because I might have got one if I had.”

Now, I have no idea if the girl on the check-out was on any commission for getting customers signed up for the store loyalty card. In a way, I almost hoped she wasn’t because that could be the only reason why she showed so little interest in trying to get us on board.

For a company that spends so much money on marketing their image, they should probably spend a little bit on training their staff in recognising buying signals. Especially when they insist on their staff wearing badges that say “Here to help…”

Here to help? I’m not so sure.

So, make sure you or your staff don’t fall foul of thinking you’re selling, when really all you are doing is blandly trotting out a few basic features of your product.

 

“I’d really like to help you, but its company policy…”

 

“I’d really like to help you, but its company policy…”

How often have you heard that line before?

I was in a local supermarket the other day, and a guy was stood at the customer services counter, and all I heard as I passed by was the assistant saying the immortal words: “I’d like to help you, sir but its company policy.”

I almost turned around and laughed. Why?

Because too many people, who represent their business, use it as a standard “Get out of jail” card when faced with a situation where a customer is calling into question the service they are getting.

They might as well say – “Don’t blame me… it’s not my fault…I don’t believe in them…I only work for them…”

Then whose fault is it? The man in the moon’s fault?

I don’t expect people to fall on their swords for the company they work for, but let us take a little responsibility here. If you are the public face of your company – if that is the job you have chosen to do or have been employed to do – then stand up for the decisions your company have taken.

When communicating with your customers use words like WE and I when explaining decisions – don’t ever use a words like THEY or THEM. And don’t ever blame it on “Company policy” because that is the biggest cop-out anyone can ever use. Have courage in your convictions – if it is your decision then explain why YOU have made that decision. If it is your company’s decision, then seek to understand why that decision was made, so you can better explain to your customer why the situation is what it is (your customers will have far more respect for you)

The reason why this is so important is because, regardless of whether you want the weight of this responsibility on your shoulders , at that exact moment in time, when your customer is asking you to make or explain a decision – THEY ARE YOUR CUSTOMER AND YOU ARE THE FACE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

When I’m buying a coffee from Emma in Starbucks, at that exact second Emma IS Starbucks – for that interaction, in my world Starbucks isn’t some US corporate entity, Starbucks IS Emma, whether she likes it or not.

Don’t shirk the responsibility of being the public face of your business – because you are in every interaction you have with your customers.

In future, make it YOUR company policy to explain every decision to your customer like it was made by YOU – in your customer’s eyes they will think they are talking to someone who is as important as they are, and this will help resolve the situation quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction.

Until next time… (hopefully it won’t be so long)