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Recently I was talking with a good friend of mine. I shared my experience at a local car dealership and raved about the excellent service I had received. Everything was exceptional. 

‘From the first contact with Mike, the service advisor, to make an appointment to picking up my serviced car I felt the experience exceeded my expectations. I even took time to complete the client satisfaction survey as soon as it arrived in my email inbox. I almost never complete surveys but this time it was fun to do.’

‘Did you say his name was Mike?’ my friend asked.
‘Yes’, I replied.
‘At the dealer located just off the exit 6?’, my friend continued with puzzled look on his face.
‘Yes, the same dealership you use.’
‘I cannot stand that guy!  All I want to do is to get my car fixed but he insists on emailing and calling me with the updates.  Who needs that?’

My friend reminded me of a very important point.  If we want to achieve successful results with others, we must always be conscious of how to adjust our behaviour to meet the unique preferences of the other person.

This is critical in providing excellent customer service.  While it is very important to have clear service standards, such as answering phone calls within three rings, greeting customers as they enter the store and answering emails within 24 hours, they alone are not enough if the goal is to deliver exceptional customer service.   

Instead of repeating the same customer service behaviours over and over with customers who have their unique characteristics and preferences, every employee must learn how to adjust their customer service style from one customer to the next.  If we do not do this, some customers are left disappointed even when the customer service standards have been met.  This is the reason my friend was not happy with the same attentive service he received from Mike.

Expecting employees to adjust their customer service style with every single customer can at a first glance seem like an unreasonable expectation.  However, when the employees have the right tools, it is not.  When they learn a simple, four-step process, it becomes second nature for them for more successful interactions with customers and everyone else.

Step 1: Understand that customers are different and have different preferences for HOW they want to be treated
Customers can be divided into four main styles, D, I, S and C.  Learning and understanding these four styles is easy and fun.  When employees become familiar with the different styles, they also learn that the customers even have different views on HOW excellent customer service should be delivered.  For example, my friend, a D-style wants minimal interaction.  ‘Just take care of it!’ he demands.  Another client defines excellent customer service in terms of amount of attention to details.   Understanding these important differences is vital in providing personalised and exceptional service.

Step 2: Develop confident self-awareness
Everyone interacting with customers’ need to understand HOW they naturally tend to communicate, interact and take care of them.  By creating a very clear understanding of their natural and most comfortable customer service styles, employees discover they tend to service all of their customers in a similar way.  This makes a lot of sense because this also happens to be the way they want to receive customer service.  We typically treat others the way we want to be treated.

Step 3: Learn to identify customers’ styles
With some practice this becomes second nature for employees.  They will automatically start paying attention to things such as eye contact, body language, what the customers say, the type of questions they ask, etc.

Step 4: Modify customer service style based on the other customer's style
This is the most important step.  Once employees have identified customer’s style and are aware of how they naturally tend to service customers, they will be able to make conscious decisions about HOW to adjust their styles.  Instead of being on ‘autopilot’, employees make slight adjustments to how they provide service to their customers.

The end result of this process is that every customer will be provided with service that is adjusted to his/her preferences.  How is that for personalised service?

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