When Good Customer Service Rules Go Bad
If you train employees to routinely do things without understanding the subtleties and context of their actions, you run the risk that they’ll do the right things, but in the wrong way. Here are some of the most common customer service rules, when to break them and alternative best practices to apply instead.
Rule One: Always Use the Customer’s name.
Dale Carnegie said “The sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one’s own name.” Though it may be true that using a customer’s name can create a sense of intimacy, it can also have the opposite effect. Overusing customers’ names may make them uncomfortable, seeming like an insincere gimmick rather than a true connection. Some people have names that are hard to pronounce or have an unusual pronunciation, and it is always good to ask the proper way to pronounce their names. Once you’ve heard the proper pronunciation, it’s essential that you pronounce it correctly. Customer’s may forgive you for not saying it right, but it will still grate on their nerves to hear it said wrong repeatedly. Some people prefer to use their first name, while others prefer an honorific, such as Mr., Miss, Ms, Mrs., Ma’am and Sir. It is far more respectful to start off by being formal, and let the customers tell you their preferences.
Best Practice: Use customers’ name in a way that shows respect and begins to build rapport.
Rule Two: Always Shake Your Customers Hand.
For decades, salespeople have been taught to shake hands in order to connect and build trust and rapport with their customers. However, there are a number of situations where offering a handshake can create more tension than trust. There are cultures and religions in which handshaking is either forbidden or considered rude. If you are dealing with a multi-cultural customer base, learn all you can about the appropriate ways to greet and welcome them. For some people, the mere thought of having to shake hands creates a level of tension that can ruin the entire interaction. There are also individuals who avoid handshaking to protect their fragile immune systems, as well as healthy people who are afraid of germs that can be transmitted by a handshake.