Customer service professionals are privy to the client’s concerns, needs, and interests. They also have a read on the customer’s tone and emotions.
This breadth of information, like many tiles in a mosaic, creates a detailed picture. What matters is how service professionals use this information.
Traditionally, service professionals are focused on solving the customer’s problem. They are not sales professionals and do not see themselves as such. Moreover, they consider the idea of tacking a sale onto the call as unseemly. However, an additional product or service is not just a sale — it is part of the solution.
Customer service professionals can be trained to enhance their roles through consultative selling by:
- Building a better mindset
- Engaging the customer
- Enhancing value
Building a Better Mindset
To many, it may seem that mindsets have little to do with margins. In truth, mindsets drive business value. Consider that “one pilot study at a consumer-services firm found that improvements in customer-service scores accrued from behavioural-psychology initiatives rather than from improvements in operations,” according to research published in Harvard Business Review.
Mindset and psychology have enormous implications for the service professional. Customer service professionals can develop a new mindset with three key practices:
- Fostering Self-Awareness: Self-awareness is about recognising one’s own emotional tendencies and how they impact the customer. By recognising these tendencies, the service professional can manage them. They can develop awareness around the kinds of emotions that will help or hurt the call and choosing the right ones to express. Moreover, self-awareness changes the service professional’s mindset by keeping them focused on how well they are meeting the customer’s needs.
- Engaging In Active Listening: When someone engages in active listening, they are focused on the other person’s words. They are making a concerted effort to understand the other person and respond in a meaningful way. Customers who speak to a service professional engaged in active listening feel satisfied. They know they have been heard.
- Avoiding Anchoring: Assumptions drive anchoring. Customer service professionals who rely on assumptions may jump to a solution without a complete understanding of the problem. The solution is to ask more questions and listen to the responses. In doing so, the service professional creates a dimensional picture of the customer’s needs.
Engaging the Customer
Customer service professionals must ensure that the customer feels respected, understood, and important. The customer must believe that the service professional is confident, caring, and capable. Put simply, service professionals must be able to relate to the customer. Relating is about connecting with the customer.
Service professionals must understand the customer’s perspective. They must listen and focus on keywords. With this approach, service professionals can begin to speak the customer’s language. Relating sets the stage for meeting a customer’s expectations in five ways.
- Own the issue
- Personalise the experience
- Be authentic
- Understand then solve
- Be curious to exceed expectations
Finding unseen value for the customer presents the possibility for a mutually beneficial outcome. The customer benefits from a solution that addresses the root issue. Simultaneously, the service professional grows revenue.
The service professional has a unique advantage in driving this outcome. They can link the additional product or service to the customer’s stated need. This approach is different than an outbound approach. A service call means that the customer has taken the first step. Therefore, the service professional can position the sale as an extension to the customer’s request for a solution. As a result, the sale is more authentic and salient because it is part of the answer to a question the customer asked.
When taking the conversation to this next level, service professionals must set out to accomplish three goals:
- Pique curiosity: The service professional must be able to spark the customer’s interest. They must make them willing to stay engaged in the conversation. This engagement is necessary for the professional to be able to address the wider scope of needs. The best way to do this is to reference a cue or clue from earlier in the conversation.
- Position with organisation: When linking the capability to the customer’s needs, it is important to position with organisation. If a customer doesn’t understand the offer, they will end the conversation
- Resolve objections: Positioning unexpected value can incite defensiveness from the customer. The service professional must engage in a dialogue to understand and resolve the customer’s resistance.
The service professional has a level of access to the customer’s thinking that is unmatched. Capitalising on these opportunities, however, requires a new mindset in which selling becomes part of the solution.