How you influence you interaction with customersNancy Friedmantelephone sales, motivation, sales training, Telephone Doctor 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 a transaction? You can... and you should! The outcome of every transaction and interaction with a customer can be controlled. Below are six stepsor shall we say, techniques and practicesthat will help everyone working with customers provide a positive and effective message to your customer and co-workers as well. And as long as we're adding, let's include our own personal lives. Let's go over each step one by one. I. Influence with 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 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 withon 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 are working, get out of any bad mood quickly. II. Influence with your confidence Let's face it. Most people enjoy working and talking with folks who are confidentconfident about their product, their services and about themselves. Don't you? 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. Believe me when I tell you, you may not think so, but the customer normally can tell when you're bluffing. So, learn about your job and your products, and think positively about yourself to create 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. It's the same thing on the phone or face to face. Confirm items, or whatever 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, "Okay." 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. III. Influence with patience Customers come in all shapes, sizes, 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 and understood. If they feel you've lost your patience with them, they'll just go somewhere else. And that's not helping the situation. IV. 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. For example: "This new watch never needs a battery." That's the fun partwhat means a lot to the company. But 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 need to buy a battery for this watch." Thats 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 isa list of things. You need to make each item transfer over to what it means to them. V. Influence with your ability to build a relationship This is a good practice, yet seldom performed. Most folks who spend a great deal of time on the phones 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 through 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 by asking, "How's the weather?" is rapport building. Well, yeah, it is, but on the very low side of the scale. Influencing someone by building a relationship, whether you'll be talking with someone once or many times, is going to influence the transaction tenfold. You want that customer to walk away or end the conversation thinking: "That was great. He was so nice!" Most people will enjoy your attempt to influence by building a relationship. VI. Influence with your complete attention One of the biggest complaints I hear is when a customer calls some place or walks into a store or restaurant, 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. In conversation, stay focused, and if you're talking face-to-face, maintain eye contact. 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 himself because you were listening to someone in another cubicle isnt giving your complete attention. Give your customer complete attention when you're talking with them. Everything else will wait! Nancy Friedman, "The Telephone Doctor," has spoken at the past four consecutive National Association of Mortgage Brokers Annual Conventions and is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training in St. Louis, Mo. Nancy is a frequent speaker at meetings and conferences worldwide. She may be reached at (314) 291-1012 or visit www.telephonedoctor.com.