Why the best customer service is often silence


I can absolutely “bang on” about how great customer service is the key to growing a business, increasing sales and most definitely the way to beat the competition. Service excellence requires customer facing staff to have many skills and I use a 6 step ACTION process to help create teams of Customer Service Professionals in Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne. But it’s important to note that staff also need to learn how to control their customer service excellence skills.

Over used service excellence skills can damage the reputation of a business.

Over servicing happened to me last week. I went shop visiting, not looking to purchase, just browsing for inspiration. My “over servicing” experience happened when I walked into a home wares store….here’s how it went down:

  • Instant happy greeting from sales person – tick.
  • Genuinely smiley face and eye contact – tick.
  • And then it began…. sales person talked and talked and talked and… well…kind of stalked.

I was offered the current specials, shown the new candles and pillows, given a commentary on how great the weather was and then asked how my day was going. I smiled politely, said my day was going really well and then I turned to walk away from her whilst saying that I was happy browsing. This seemed to fall on deaf ears as she launched into  telling me how busy her day had been whilst she followed me around the store re-folding or re-positioning anything I picked up .

Did she make me feel welcome instantly? Yes. Did she read my body language? No. Did she ask me any questions? One, but ignored my answer. Did she have great product knowledge? Yes. Did she seem like a genuinely nice person? Yes. Did she over service? Yes. Will I go back to that business when I’m ready to purchase? I’d hesitate. They had great products but if I can get what I want somewhere else, I’ll probably do that.

Why does Over Servicing happen? Usually it’s one of 3 things:

  1. Staff have been told or even trained to treat all customers the same way. That makes it a hit or miss situation as service excellence is not a “One Size Fits All” process.
  2. Staff don’t have the skills to "read" customers.  Body language and tone of voice indicate how a customer feels and staff should adapt their service accordingly.
  3. Staff treat customers how they (the staff member)  like to be treated. Honourable, but not always successful i.e the staff member loves to chat and the customer doesn’t.

2 Ways to avoid Over Servicing

Ask questions.

If you want to confirm a customer’s level of comfort, ask questions so you can assess their body language and tone of voice. A customer that turns their back or gives little or no eye contact is telling you they don’t want to engage. This doesn’t always mean they won’t buy or come to you later, but pushing them to do so in your time frame can damage the relationship.

Listen more than you talk

Regardless of what you are talking about, let the customer lead the conversation. No-one likes to be interrupted and too much information is just that – too much. Break your talking with a question to see how the customer is feeling.

CONTACT LIGHTBULB TRAINING SOLUTIONS if your team need a reminder of when enough service is enough and how to adjust communication styles to suit the needs of each customer.

Service Excellence is not treating customers how you would like to be treated. Service Excellence is treating customers how they would like to be treated.

Cate Schreck - Service Excellence Coach and Author of The A - Z of Service Excellence.