“Customers First” is not a slogan, but a belief system. When internalized, this belief system works to constantly adjust account managers behavior to better serve their customers instead of doing what is personally easiest or most pleasurable. To develop a “Customers First” attitude that is always working on an unconscious level, account managers must bridge the “Experience Gap” or the difference between what they want and what the customer wants. This requires the cultivation of empathy to better understand what their customers’ experience is like. By taking time to ask their customers what they want to experience, if their current customer experience is enjoyable, and what changes can be made to deliver a better experience, this can be accomplished.
In many ways, likability is the gateway to connections. When account managers increase their likeability, they are putting their customers first by being more pleasurable to do business with. Blount calls likability “relationship glue” as it often solidifies a customer’s willingness to give a second chance after any problems or mistakes arise with service. While some people are born with likability, others must work hard to achieve it.
There are several elements within anyone’s control that can improve likability:
*Flex Your Style. When someone flexes their style, they are adjusting their interpersonal behaviors so that customers are more comfortable working with them. There are many different personality types and subsequent styles of communication. Account managers must first identify and understand their own styles then make the necessary adjustments to fall in sync with their customers’ styles.
*People Respond in Kind. Customers respond in kind when it comes to likable behaviors. Effective account managers understand this and use it to their advantage, especially when dealing with upset customers. By remaining calm, respectful, and pleasant they are setting the tone of a conversation and increasing the likelihood of their customers reciprocating the same behaviors.
*Smile. A sincere smile is the most effective way to connect with a customer and convey authenticity. When people do not smile it can make them appear self-absorbed and unapproachable. To combat such perceptions, Blount suggests making a conscious effort to always smile sincerely at clients by thinking of something pleasant or by practicing in the mirror beforehand.
*Be Authentic. People should avoid the temptation to pretend to be someone else when interacting with customers as it can diminish trustworthiness and integrity. Most people have a great deal of intuition and can tell when someone is being inauthentic with them.
*Be Polite and Respectful. Good manners ensure a better customer experience. To convey respect, account managers must give their customers their undivided attention and express gratitude through simple “pleases” and “thank yous.”
*Be Kind. A positive reputation can be created by being kind to everyone, no matter what the circumstances are.
*Compliment Often. Compliments boost customers’ self-esteem and make them feel good. Delivering sincere compliments requires keen observation skills and a genuine interest in other people.
*Passion, Enthusiasm, and Confidence. Passion, enthusiasm, and confidence are all reflections of an individual’s feelings and beliefs. When customers witness passion and enthusiasm from their account managers, they often begin feeling the same way. When working with customers it is important to have the confidence and courage to tell the truth and be decisive.
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