Today I got some good customer service lessons when I bought my new iPhone. Contrary to a number of bad experiences I’ve had with Verizon in the past, this one was a pleasure.
My Operations Officer, Elizabeth, and I dropped by our local Verizon store. As we walked in, I said, “You do the talking, because I suck at this phone stuff.”
She says, “Hi, we’re here to purchase two new phones and the corporate account is under Charles Bernard.” Our greeter writes my name into his tablet and we are in the queue.
Customer Service Lessons with Verizon
The first of my customer service lessons came from observing the way he greeted us. He was neither overly friendly, nor curt. He told us what position we were in the queue and that the wait would be less than five minutes. With no other unnecessary frills, he moved on.
Cliff arrived and said, “Good morning, can you tell me which new iPhone you’re looking to buy?”
Second customer service lesson: our purpose had been accurately recorded in the system and our rep picked it up seamlessly.
What happened next was interesting.
His login credentials weren’t working. I watched how he handled the glitch. Maintaining a calm composure, trying a couple more times, he apologized for the wait, even though we were talking seconds.
“I’m so sorry, my system’s not working and I’m going to step away to get it taken care of. I’ve put you back in the queue with a priority and you’ll be next. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience.”
Before leaving he asked us for specific colors for the phones so he could at least check if they were in stock.
This was the next in customer service lessons. Stay calm under pressure in the face of a problem, while adding value where possible.
Learning from Cliff
He was back within 3 minutes with two new phones.
I felt lucky that the queuing system had reassigned Cliff to us.
Without skipping a beat, he was answering questions and anticipating questions we hadn’t asked.
Did I think there were more customer service lessons here? Of course I did! Here was someone who knew how to apply in-depth knowledge about his product.
I asked him how long it would take to get the new phone up and running, because I had a plane to catch. “About ten minutes.” And he actually completed it in eight. Then I heard a “hmmm.”
Pulling out a piece of paper, Cliff drew some numbers. “This column is your current plan. This column is a plan I can put you into that will save you some money.” He made sure we understood what he was talking about. Could it be a trick? Could it be a bait and switch? Where’s the catch?
Then he said something I didn’t expect. And it was personal.
“I want you to know that I believe in transparency. The plan I’m suggesting will not only give you more than you currently have, it will offset the increased cost of the new phones. You’ll basically come out even.”
Even if this was part of the standard spiel, it didn’t matter to me. It was presented authentically and trust had been established. So, when he talked about purchasing insurance (which was something we wanted), it was a done deal!
So, all I kept thinking of was how Cliff executed the “no sales sale” flawlessly.
Here’s a summary of my customer service lessons:
- Communicating key customer information seamlessly from rep to rep
- Being sensitive to my time constraints
- Knowing the right amount of rapport building, without crossing the line
- Being deep in subject knowledge and knowing how to apply it
- Anticipating questions I might have
- Keeping the transaction relevant to my needs
- Not over selling features that I didn’t want
- Offering to be available if I had follow-up questions
- Taking the time to test that the product worked as promised
- Not rushing to get to the next customer once the sale was made
I certainly learned quite a few customer service lessons at the Verizon store. Now, it’s time to apply them with my own prospects and customers.
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