One of the best ways to keep customers coming back more often is by living the old Boy Scout motto:
Be prepared to take care of them better than anyone else can or will take care of them. If every customer you work with is impressed at how knowledgeable you are, they’ll tell others. If you are able to help them get what they want every time without fail and without hesitation, they’ll come back.
But we know every organization has a lot of information buried inside. For you to be prepared to help anyone, you need to learn and understand a mountain of information. Here’s a system to make that task a little easier. I call it the Five Ps of Customer Service.
The Five Ps provide an easy way to group the stuff you need to know about your company. They help you sort and organize the many things you should understand about your company so you can help your customer better than anyone else. The Five Ps of customer service are:
Nobody can do everything on their own. We all need help from others to do our jobs the best we can. That’s why teams are so important. The more people you know in your company (not just on your team) the better you will be able to serve your customers. Get to know people throughout your company. Make sure you know people at all levels and on every team, in every department. Having good relationships with people in every department can help you cut through red tape and get right to the answers you need as you work to help your customers.
Of course you need to know your products and services. You need to know their features, benefits, prices, shortcomings and competing products. You also need to know what problems they solve or what opportunities they can help create. The more you know about all your company’s products, the better you can suggest and advise your customers. A great way to get to know your products is through customer application examples. Collect stories about how your company’s customers have used its products to meet their needs. Document these examples so anyone in your company can use them. This information is golden and will help you do more for your customers than anyone else.
Your company’s policies tell you what you can and cannot do for your customers. They give you boundaries. One of my good friends likes to say it’s easier to break a rule when you understand it. His point is, policies can be broken but you need a good reason. You need to understand the reason for the policy before you can know when it’s okay to violate it.
Knowing your company’s policies can save your customer time. Some things simply cannot be done. If you know this upfront, you can help your customer understand it. Other policies might be flexible. If you are aware of where the rules can be bent, you can help your customers have a more realistic expectation of how you can help them. You can show them you’re working for them and maybe prevent them from being disappointed.
It’s almost impossible to help a customer if you do not understand how your company does things. Procedures are the life blood of a business because they tell us how to get things done. And, if things are not working well, established procedures provide a place to start to fix the problem. Know all you can about the procedures your company uses to deliver its products and services. Only then can you help your customers navigate the maze and get what they want.
If you company has more than one location, you need to know about it. Sometimes, different locations are similar, as in retail stores. Often they have different functions, such as a warehouse and a showroom. Either way, you should know about every location your company has and what they do at each one. Find out how each location plays a part in helping your company deliver its products and services. Then you can put that knowledge to work as you help your customers.
As you increase your company knowledge across these five categories, you’ll find your confidence and credibility increase. More people will come to you for answers because you’ll be able to help them. You’ll become the “goto” person others look to for help. And, you’ll find more customers want to work with you because you’re able to help them get what they want better than anyone else.
That’s how you keep customers coming back.