How YOU Influence Your Interaction with Customers

If you work with customers on the phone or face to face, are you aware that you have the ability to influence the outcome of that transaction? You are. You can. And you should!

The outcome of every transaction and interaction with a customer can be controlled. Below, are six steps or, shall we say, techniques and practices that will help everyone working with customers provide a positive and effective message to your customer. And let’s face it, with your co-workers as well. And as long as we’re adding, let’s include our own personal lives.

The Telephone Doctor’s new DVD program Influencing the Interaction covers six practices that will help anyone working with customers. Let’s go over each step one by one.

Influence by Your Mood – There is a big difference between a mood and an attitude. A mood is usually temporary and an attitude is normally permanent. It is possible to be in a bad mood, but have a great attitude. The biggest thing going is the person with the good attitude will usually get out of the bad mood quicker. So if you came into work today in a ‘bad’ mood, the quicker you get out of it the more control you’ll have on the interaction. Your mood will affect the person you’re working with – on the phone or in person. Customers tend to take on the mood of the person they work with or talk with on the phone. So when you’re working, get out of any bad mood QUICK.

Influence by Your Confidence – Let’s face it. Most people enjoy working and talking with folks who are confident. Don’t you? Confidence about their product, their services and about themselves. One of the most effective ways to influence with confidence is to know your job and know your product. Know what you’re talking about. And believe me, you may not think so, but the customer normally can tell when you’re bluffing. So learn about your job, your products and think positively about yourself to create the confidence in yourself.

Confidence is also needed when you’re confirming something to a customer. Don’t you feel better when the waiter in the restaurant CONFIRMS what you ordered? You feel confident he’ll get the order right. Same thing on the phone or face to face. Confirm items, or what ever it is you’re working with, to the customer. Especially on phone messages. The other day I left a message for someone and all I heard as confirmation was, “OK.” I would have really liked the person I spoke with to repeat what I had said. By doing that, she could have influenced the conversation by her confidence and my confidence that she got the message right.

Influence with Patience – Customers come in all sizes, shapes, and especially cultures and ages. Losing your patience with anyone will only hurt the transaction. You need to learn to be patient and go with the flow. Rushing customers along is a great way to lose a customer. People want to be heard, to be understood. If they feel you’ve lost your patience with them, they’ll just go somewhere else. And that’s not helping the situation.

Influence with Features and Benefits– I’m amazed at how many people aren’t aware of the difference between the two. There seems to be a lot of confusion. So in line with Telephone Doctor training we’ll make it easy for you to influence with features and benefits. What’s the difference between the two? Well, features come first. They’re the fun part of the product or service. Then we need to transfer the feature and make it into a benefit. Like this: “This new watch never needs a battery.” That’s the FUN part. What means a lot to the company. But ah ha; who cares? So what? Now, if we can transfer that feature and make it into a benefit, then we’re influencing the transaction. So we would say, “And what that means to YOU, Mr. Customer, is you’ll never ever need to buy a battery for this watch.” That’s the benefit. And it’s usually the BENEFIT that makes the customer want something. It’s a great influence. If you’re just listing off a laundry list of ‘things,’ that’s just what it is; a list of things. You need to make each item transfer over to WHAT IT MEANS to them.

Influence with Your Building a Relationship – This is a good practice, yet so seldom done. Most folks who are on the phones a lot taking calls from customers are not interested in building any relationship. “Heck,” they think, “I’ll probably never talk with this person again.” So they answer the questions, nicely of course, but there’s no attempt to build a relationship for any future business. Any and every transaction and interaction can be better served with some rapport building – friendly conversation. What’s sad is that building relationships and learning to build rapport is not taught in our schools today, and normally not taught in corporations either. Some folks think that asking, “How’s the weather?” is rapport building. Well, yeah, it is, but on the very low side of the scale. Influencing by building a relationship, whether you’ll be talking with someone ONCE or many times, is going to influence the transaction ten fold. You want that customer to walk away or end the conversation thinking “that was great.” “He/she was sooooo nice!” Most people will enjoy your attempt to influence by building a relationship.

Influence with Your Complete Attention– One of the biggest complaints I hear from our customers at Telephone Doctor is when they call some place or walk into a store or restaurant is how the employees really don’t pay attention to them. They’re usually talking with another employee or doing something trivial like straightening something up. They feel as though the employees don’t care. So when you’re talking with someone, you need to give your undivided and complete attention to that conversation; no matter what’s happening around you. Stay focused and if you’re talking in person face-to-face, keep that eye contact going. Swivel heads aren’t appreciated. And on the phone, while making eye contact just isn’t possible, you can still stay focused by tuning things around you OUT. Asking someone to repeat him or herself because you were listening to someone in another cubicle isn’t giving your complete attention. Give your customer your complete attention when you’re talking with them. Everything else will wait!

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