It’s easy to forget the basics of customer service. You are probably so close to your work that you need time to take a few steps back  to see how you are doing. If you never look in the mirror, you may never see a smudge of dirt that you need to wipe away.

I recently test drove cars at five different car dealers. I was doing research for one of my clients – an auto dealership consortium. My time with each sales person revealed quite a few customer service mistakes – and triumphs.

1. If you work with people face-to-face, it’s very important to make frequent eye contact. Then the other person will be assured that you really want to connect with them.

2. Ask questions to find out who they are. Go beyond just areas that serve your purposes. Their answers will undoubtedly reveal things that will help you in your mission of selling.

3. Offer them a drink. Or a snack. A physically satisfied person is more likely to be intellectually satisfied.

4. Find out what follow-up they need. Then don’t provide what they don’t want. (I did not want printed car brochures. I only wanted to see more info on the car models via the websites. None of the sales people were even aware of that green option.)

5. Ask for the person’s email address. They may want to receive your corporate emails. Ask first if they want to be added to your list. (Not one of the five sales people did that.)

6. Be sure to know more about your product or service than your customer. (Not all the sales people knew more than I did about the cars I wanted to test drive.) That will prevent embarrassment.

Use. Apply. Repeat.

Handshake illustration modified from an original by Aidan Jones.

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