Do your customers respect you? That is the first step, says author and retail expert Jeanne Bliss, toward making your customers love you. Bliss — who will speak in October to the Retail Consortium for Management Education at Santa Clara University’s Retail Management Institute — championed customers for Lands’ End, Mazda Motor of America and Allstate Corp., to name but three of her former employers.
Last year, her book — Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action — was published by Jossey-Bass. The self-described “chief customer zealot” suggests 10 ways for a retailer to begin earning customer respect. Earning that respect, she says, is the first step toward getting customers to love you.
Here then, are Bliss’s first three tips:
1. Eliminate the customer obstacle course. If you ask your customers, Bliss says, they will tell you that your customer service function is too complicated. “Simplify the roadmap for customers,” she says. Make it clear for them how they can do business with you in a way that is beneficial to them.
2. Stop the customer hot potato. He who speaks to the customer first should “own” that customer. There’s nothing that sends a signal of disrespect faster, Bliss says, than an impatient employee on the phone trying to pass a customer off to “someone who can better help them.” Bliss’s response to this line of customer service: “Yeah, right.”
3. Give customers a choice. Do not, Bliss says, create phony choices, such as requiring customers to opt out of receiving offers from you. Instead, tell them up front that they can decide whether or not they would like to receive e-mails and offers from you. Give them the choice.