Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's Harder to be Kind Than Clever

The story in this link hit home, because just last fall I too purchased a new car. My car was in for service at the dealership closest to my home and I asked them to have a few cars ready for me to test drive when I came back to pick up my car.  Oops, they forgot, but asked me kindly if I would drive back to the dealership in an hour or so. Yeah right.

I decided to try a different dealer instead and was also disappointed in the service.  I got someone new who didn't know about the cars and rather than get help he continued to frustrate me by talking about his college experiences instead of cars and giving me bad information that you could clearly read on the window stickers and see that he was wrong. 

This lead me to start shopping on-line.  I found my car, called the dealer, made the drive,  and in 2 minutes they sold me a car.  Although I got the car I wanted how do you think this experience effected how I felt about the purchase?  Three dealers later I finally had a Cadillac. 

Am I picky - yes.  Am I tolerant - no.  Why should I be?  Why should any of us be? It is also important to note that because, at the time, I drove a lot for business I am always asked about my feelings towards my car.  On average I sell the car I drive to at least 4 people.

I am sharing this experience for all of the people who work anywhere where they service customers and especially for their bosses. 

Be observant.  Listen to your customer and look at their body language to determine if you are making a connection.  It is easy to keep talking, but if they are not listening you will not make a sale.  Also try to mirror their style.  People are more comfortable around people like themselves and will be more inclined to say "yes" if they are comfortable with you.
Be humble.  Put your customers needs before your own needs and policies.  Customers will ask questions that may frustrate you.  It is important to separate yourself from the transaction rather than show frustration.  When it comes to a customer asking for a concession don't be reckless, but if the rule doesn't make sense look for a way around it.
Be empowering.  Trust in people to do the right thing.  They will not let you down.

Click this link for the story from HBR that inspired this message ...
 Why Is it So Hard to Be Kind?

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