Jan Carlzon ignited the customer service revolution when he devoted millions of dollars to provide training for each of Scandinavian Airlines’ 20,000 employees. He did this at a time when SAS was losing money. The move led to a new term—“wall-to-wall” training, which emphasizes and sustains high-quality service efforts.
Overcoming customer objections in an ethical manner is part of those high-quality service efforts…no matter what product a firm is offering. There are three ways you can help your customers understand the value you or your company can provide, without making them feel manipulated.
“Semper paratus” is the Boy Scout motto—a motto that can be used by salespeople and customer service representatives alike. By considering in advance what the customer’s objections might be, you will be better able to respond to them. Here are questions that may help in that preparation.
- What objections is the customer likely to raise?
- How will I respond to each of those objections?
- Is there anecdotal evidence I can provide?
- Is there an Internet source to which I can direct the customer?
- Can I quickly enumerate the benefits to the customer?
- Do I sound sincere?
- Have I checked with co-workers to learn how they respond to typical objections?
If you are reading from a script, most customers will be able to pick up the fact that you yourself are not invested in the product you are trying to sell. Use a script if you must, but use it as a guide. Inject ex temporaneous responses from time to time. And let the facts about your product speak for themselves. If, for example, you have 100 positive online responses from customers who have used your product and liked it, quote a few phrases from those responses.
3) Communicate Carefully
Customer service is often a question of making the customer feel you truly understand his or her concerns. That means you must choose your words carefully. Restating a negative comment is usually not the best way to show your understanding. For example, if the customer says, “This just sounds like another ploy to get me to buy something I don’t want,” you should avoid the word “ploy” in your response, and the term “something I don’t want. “ Instead, emphasize the positive.
You might say, “Our company prides itself on having customers buy things they do want, things they do need. We don’t push customers to buy things they don’t want. Instead, we try to find out what customers need and then tell them which of our products will meet that need.”
Listen carefully, too, as there are few things more annoying to customers than being interrupted as they are trying to express their concerns or questions.
If customer interactions can be considered a metaphorical room, you can place their satisfaction within those four walls. And, you can let the Three C’s provide the wall-to-wall foundation for that satisfaction.
Dr. Marlene Caroselli is an author, keynoter, and corporate trainer whose clients include Lockheed Martin, Allied Signal, Department of the Interior, and Navy SEALS. She writes extensively about education, business, self-improvement, and careers and has adjuncted at UCLA and National University. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was named a main selection by the Executive Book Club. Principled Persuasion, a more recent title, was designated a Director’s Choice by the Doubleday Book Club. Applying Mr. Albert: 365+ Einstein-Inspired Brain Boosts, her 62nd book, will be released by HRD Press in 2018.
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