How often do you think about your experiences as a consumer? What comes to mind when you reflect on positive interactions? How about negative? I don’t know about you, but for me the negative experiences are much more vivid. Many of those interactions occurred with someone who was well intended. For instance, over the summer I had my basement waterproofed. The salesperson I worked with was nice, but not great. My husband and I are Hispanic and so is his wife. I learned about her family, the food she makes, and her Latina rage toward her husband. I get it, I was right there with her, but I didn’t want to know any of that. I wasn’t interested in bonding. Using my ethnicity as a vehicle for connection is seldom a good idea, especially via a third party. He then assumed we were interested in financing our purchase. I don’t know why he jumped to that conclusion, but when we said we were going to pay cash he started to backpedal and that was awkward. I was thoroughly annoyed and eager for him to leave, but he extended his stay for hours and dinner was getting cold. I fed that man. He likely thinks he did a fantastic job and I do not. My interaction with the basement guy aligns well with many of the mistakes we make when working with other humans.
Stay on task. When selling eye wear discuss relevant topics. Develop an understanding of the customer’s personal style, wants, and needs. Present options instead of having the patient select their own frames. Speak to the features of the frame and lenses; bridge the gap between the information the customer provided and the product benefits. Sell the problem you are solving while driving the engagement.
Recognize customer cues. Some customers want to know everything about you and are eager to tell you everything about themselves, but you have to understand that not everyone wants to make new friends. Actively listen while observing body language to ensure consistent comfort and satisfaction. Work hard to guide the conversation and do not overshare.
Know your product. You have to build trust in order to get the customer’s buy in. For those that are interested in friendly conversation that personal connection is often enough to convey you have their best interest at heart. Some people just want facts so make sure you know what you’re selling.
Set guidelines around proactive offerings versus reactive. I am on board with driving engagement with the optical by encouraging customers to try on something you think would look nice on them. That could even work well as an icebreaker. Offering opinions to people browsing the optical is a great practice. Financing options and special ordering frames should ALWAYS be a REACTIVE OFFERING. Present your financing options when faced with pricing objections before discussing a less expensive alternative. When special orders are common practice, it is close to impossible to effectively manage inventory, cost of goods takes a hit, and the practice is much more likely to end up with stale products on their boards.
Never assume. It is impossible to determine what someone is willing to spend based on how they present themselves.
We set out to offer great customer service every day, but sometimes we miss the mark. Staying on task while recognizing customer cues and leveraging product knowledge is a recipe for success. Just be sure to set guidelines around proactive and reactive offerings and navigate around any preconceived notions.
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