Rules of customer engagement

nz_auckland_hobbit_movie_IMG_2494In the 1950’s, Noel Coward coined the phrase, “The show must go on,” referencing an actor’s moral and professional responsibility to  give it the actor’s “all.” It’s no different in business. Professionals must show they are eager to serve where customer perception is king. From the moment a customer walks into a store, the stage is set with either an interested, warm welcome or a vacant stare. Service on the phone? If I am the customer, is the phone ringing numerous times? I hope someone answers with a friendly, “How can I help you?” The less desirable telephone greeting is, “Please hold for a few moments.”

A customer wants to perceive the welcome, not just as a polite greeting, but as a sincere invitation to make her feel as if the business wants to serve and is proud to know that she has chosen their business over the competition. A company has to make the consumer feel they have made the best choice and convince  the customer that the rest of the experience is going to be as remarkable as that first exciting encounter. As an example I use the store Anthropologie, an unusual store for unique apparel, home decor, and accessories. It’s not just the inventory either; it’s an amazing combination of delightful smells, engaging personnel, and service beyond just ordinary.

The atmosphere a business creates also includes service and the ability to engage customers. In real estate, it’s not just showing Mrs. Jones houses that fit into her price range and criteria. It’s learning that she likes golf and swimming. It’s knowing that her grandchildren enjoy coming down to South Florida and being near the beach to participate in wind surfing and fishing. It’s knowing that Mrs. Jones wants to be with other women who play cards in her own community so she can establish her new social life. Atmosphere and engagement is also showing interest in a boutique customer and knowing what styles excite her; every employee in the boutique knowing the information too. It doesn’t do much good if only one salesperson knows; every employee represents a business and every opportunity is unique.

Successful customer service is hard work. It’s not always easy to engage customers because people may be wary of giving out too much information. Even in real estate sales, most Realtors are considered transaction brokers, which provides no fiduciary relationship between sellers and brokers or buyers and brokers. Buyers and sellers are often reluctant to give out information about reasons to sell, so care must be taken so as not to encroach into anyone’s perceived privacy. It’s all a delicate balance of the sincerity and ability a company imparts upon any customer or client. The competition is always out there ready to pounce, so even though the show must go on, it must be done well.

photo credit: Stas Kulesh

One Response to “Rules of customer engagement”

  1. Terry said:

    Nov 03, 10 at 9:58 am

    The show absolutely must go on ! Great comparisson.

    When you go to Disney World, every single interaction with employees is full of fun, excitement, smiles, and positive energy. They are not called staff, they are called Cast.

    I agree with you that Delivering great customer service is hard work, and also very rewarding.

    Terry