"The fool speaks, the wise [business]man listens." -African Proverb
Here is one tip to increase your business this year. Are you listening?
Be a better listener.
What your customer is saying is extremely important. Over-the-top important. It is the center of her universe and the whole reason she is in your store trying to give you money.
But she won't give you that money if she doesn't think you're listening.
Be a better listener.
"It is better to listen in order to understand than to listen in order to reply." -Anonymous
Here is a simple little game that I did with my staff to help them focus on listening...
Have your staff pair up in twos. Have the first person tell the second person what he or she likes most about working for your store. The person listening must repeat back what the first person said. If the second person gets it right, then the second person can share what he or she likes most about working for your store with the first person repeating it back. Then each pair must stand and tell the entire group why the other person likes working here so much.
The repeating it back is the key. To be able to do that, you have to listen to understand, not simply listen to reply. The goal for each staff member is to repeat back every question or important comment the customer makes this month. The more they do it, the more they get into the habit of doing it.
Repeating back to the customer what she just said might seem annoying, but it actually serves three distinct purposes.
- It helps to clarify the customer's concerns and make sure you got it right.
- It gives you an extra moment to think about your response
- It helps the customer trust that you are paying attention, are in the moment, and have her best interests at heart.
It is a simple acknowledgment that goes a long way in building the long-term relationship you want with your customers. Now, repeat this all back to me. (Paraphrase if you'd like. That is perfectly acceptable.)
PS There is another benefit to the training I did with my staff. I had each staff member verbalize why they like working for me. Then it was verbalized two more times, reinforcing it even more. Plus, by verbalizing it to the entire group, everyone got reinforcement for why this is such a great place to work. Oh, and if someone cannot come up with a good reason for why they like working with you - fire them!