I’ve only known Maple for a few years, but in that time she’s taught me a life time of lessons on how to treat people. We used to work up above Coda Clothing and shoes. Maple would be working on the floor of Coda when we’d come into work. We’d have to walk past her as we shared an entrance. She was always excited to see us no matter what. She genuinely wanted to get to know you better, it wasn’t fake or contrived, Maple is actually one of the happiest people I’ve ever met. She could keep a conversation going with a mute person!
There’s something about Maple that makes her special. I think she’s the smartest person I’ve ever talked to about Customer Service, if you don’t believe me, go out for a coffee with her or just watch while she works. Maple is a pro, she gets it.
One night after a few beverages I assembled up the courage to ask this modern day people igniter what her secret is. Of course in Maple fashion we had a 15-minute conversation about it and she divulged her secret.
“Treat everyone like they have a secret. Get them talking about something they’re interested in and pay attention. Ask questions so that they feel like you value them and their passions. Maybe, in turn, they will listen to what you have to say about the product you’re selling.”
Become a great conversationalist, take a general interest to other people. I remember a certain business fellow who believed in something peculiarly similar to what Maple preaches. In Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People he talks about finding interest in people you are talking to, ask questions, get them to tell you a story. That book was first published in 1938 and is now a best seller many times over. Mr. Carnegie was on to something, I bet he’d get along just fine with Maple.
It’s more than just finding interest in others, Maple gave me many more pieces of wisdom when we sat down.
The italics below are direct quotes from Maple.
“Everyone is selling something.”
Its the old analogy of the snake oil salesman going door to door. Either he’s going to sell you snake oil or you’re going to sell him an excuse as to why you don’t need it. Either way, both parties are selling something.
“Customer Service is very similar to being a dog, a dog mirrors the owner to get acceptance just as the customer service rep needs to mirror the customer to get acceptance.”
Personally I think this is the best analogy of great customer service I’ve ever heard. Be more excited to see them than they are to see you. Just be like a friendly dog, unconditionally treat people with the utmost respect. Come up or down to their level. Don’t be overly loud if the person you’re talking is quiet, and vice versa. With children or kids, knee down, come to their level. After all no one is really above any one else.
“Show your weird side so that your customer has fun.”
It is okay to be different. Yes you can be weird. Start embracing the difference. We all have our unique ticks, no one is perfect, no one is better than anyone else. It’s your deficiencies that will define you, why does that have to be negative? Embrace the weird people, there is no more “normal”.
“Avoid being a cheesy sales person.”
This one doesn’t need ANY explanation. Go pretend like you are buying a car and walk into any dealership, you’ll see precisely what I mean. Shady tactics to get people to say yes then increase the price after. Offering ridiculous interest rates so people can get a car but pay for it for 20 years. There are countless examples of terrible sales techniques that worked at one point. Today though? Never. We can verify what you’re telling us on our phones now, you can’t lie about your precious snake oil.
“Show empathy for your customer.”
This goes for dealing with ANYONE in a business situation. Put yourself in their shoes, try to understand where they’re coming from, have a heart. If you treat everyone as a transaction, they will soon find somewhere else to buy from. Business is getting much more complex, you have to lead with your heart today or else you aren’t going to get buy-in. From your customers, your owners and most importantly your staff, if your staff don’t buy-in to what you’re doing it will fail before you start.
“Show passion for your business and brand and your customer will too if they like you, in a weird “halo effect”.”
What a fascinating observation from this customer service phoneme. Once you begin to be excited about your brand/store/business others will too. It’s contagious. People like talking to happy positive people, be the example that your customers can follow. Nothings worse than going to a restaurant asking your server what the best thing on the menu is and the reply “Ugh, I don’t eat here, I don’t know”. SAY SOMETHING!!! Have a go to, just figure out a way to not say, I dunno!
We work with a mortgage broker in Saskatoon who’s just the easiest person to talk to. She’s not pushy, or cheesy salesy, she genuinely cares about the people she works with. Very cool to see in 2016!
“Tell funny stories and entertain your customer.”
If your customer is a talker they will love this. Some people don’t want to talk, others work with you for the specific conversations you have. Don’t be afraid to tell a story and get your customers laughing. That is the holy grail, in life, to laugh at something or something someone said is so precious, practice it, get good it. This will help you in numerous situation in your life.
“Keep good relationships with your customers and remember their names!!”
“Customer service and sales is basically about being a good conversationalist. Many times I’ve talked to customers for hours in the store about something they liked or that they did because it was a good conversation. Last week a women came in who had never been to our store before, and we chatted for 45 minutes about her dog’s complications. I have no idea what she did for a living because that wasn’t her passion. She might come back because in her mind coming to Coda was a fun and relaxing experience because she got to talk about something she liked to someone who was interested in what she had to say.
Maple gets it. She’s not just an employee, she’s a passion capitalist. She believes everyone has a story to tell you, a hidden secret they’re dying to get out. Get excited when you see people, find an interest in what they talk about and maybe, just maybe you will one day see the world as Maple sees it.