Being the Director of First Impressions carries a lot of responsibility. It's more than simply answering phones, greeting guests and assisting our administration department. My role is client service. Here are some of my client service tips for the craft of “Impression-Making.”
Be an Active Listener
Two ears and one mouth - use them in that proportion. Issues can be more easily resolved by listening, not talking. You'll get a clearer picture of a challenge and allows you to respond the appropriate way the first time. It seems simple, right? Not always easy to remember, however, especially for anyone who likes talking. Take a step back, slow down, listen and then react. Avoid going straight to reaction mode, because you'll probably miss the answer by failing to listen first. Time and energy is wasted trying to fix problems that could have been avoided if we all practiced active listening, which includes those things your ears aren't catching, such as reading body language. Pay attention to tone of voice in order to discern what's really being said.
Practice People Watching
I'm not talking about sipping latte's outside a Parisian bistro and watching people shuffle by. Pay attention to the needs and behavior/habits of your internal and external clients. You'll learn how best to serve them and eventually anticipate their requests. You'll also learn how to tailor your own behavior and communication style to maximize each interaction. Some people are very forward and they appreciate a direct, no-nonsense response (or straight talk). Others are people-oriented and, like myself, enjoy small talk. Watch how your internal and external clients speak and intently try to absorb their communication style.
Manners, Manners, Manners
Please and thank you still go a long way. In an overwhelmingly automated world, an actual human-to-human interaction is a must for good customer service. The key to its success above electronic alternatives is kind, courteous and helpful interactions. If you are lacking fundamental manners and good business etiquette, you might as well be replaced with a robot.
All clients take time, what little they have, to interact with us. We have to make it count. Satisfied clients make a happy and successful business. I believe Luckett & Farley's 160 years of success is directly related to our commitment to exceptional service. We value each project. Show a little gratitude to your clients with a "thank you." Even a "please" when asking a client to hold on the phone is critical. These details matter and become evident when they're not present. It's a world of difference in that client's impression of you and your business.