Yesterday was a day that I’d rather forget. The phone rang off the hook; people demanded services that a third party promised and didn’t tell them the whole story, and I was the one who had to diffuse their temperament. Of course, that’s nothing unusual, but I’m finding that keeping a calm presence isn’t always a simple task when you have many people yelling at you simultaneously.
This time in our lives is a strange time for many of us. We are coming out of a pandemic, and life is slowly returning to a sense of normalcy. Storage units are in demand more than ever, and that’s a great thing for business until you get so full that there are no vacancies. When that happens, people get agitated when they want something that they don’t have. So what choices do you have when customers don’t get your business when they want?
Some questions need asking. The four questions to ask:
- What’s the problem I solve?
- Can I help this person?
- Do I want to help this person?
- Are they committed?
The first question is answered when you listen to customer needs and decide if you can or can’t assist them with those needs. For example, let’s say you run a storage facility. You sell entirely out, but you know that you have a unit coming open within a few days. How soon will the customer need the storage, and can they wait until your availability changes? If not, are there other storage facilities close by that might have an opening? Are you willing to call the companies for the customer to inquire or check their websites to see if they may have available? Going the extra mile for customers is something each of us can do. While there are no guarantees that you can come through for your customer, they will appreciate your willingness to assist them.
The second question falls in line with the above paragraph, but so much of any job we do is involved in listening to what others need. For example, I have parking at my facility, but I’m aware that my facility won’t have parking for an extended period. My company will be doing away with parking later this year, so I’ve been making sure my customers know that it’s coming. Why do this? Parking is challenging to find. I’m giving my customers a heads-up so that they have time to find facilities that will meet their needs best in the long run. By being honest with customers and treating them with kindness and respect, I know that I will have a better chance of having them as customers than if I’m deceitful and curt to them. People can spot others who are fake a mile away.
The third question is a double-edged sword. Sometimes you don’t feel like helping customers, especially if they are difficult. When that happens, remember they may be at a crossroads in their lives. They could lash out at you, criticize you, or ridicule you. Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they get to you. Instead, turn the tables. Use kindness as a weapon. One of the most grating skills I’ve used is kindness because when someone is in a lousy mood, kindness goes a long way to diffuse negative energy.
The final question is, are they committed? Again, listening is crucial to find out if they are serious or not about their needs. I’m using the storage industry in my examples, but these principles apply to all kinds of fields and industries. We find out so many things from the people we interact with every day. Why not use those skills to help make our day and their day a little better?
If you take the time to pay attention to your customers and potential customers, you might find that not only will you stay competitive, but you will continue to set the bar high for other establishments. My customers have told me repeatedly that they like the fact that I look out for them. I love the fact that I listen to what they tell me and work with them when they keep communication open. Of course, I’m not perfect, and I make lots of mistakes. But I try hard to remember how fortunate I am to be working and know that many people lost their jobs in the pandemic. If you sell out, remember that your actions are a reflection of the business. Be willing to treat others with kindness and respect. Those actions go a long way in securing business in the future. It’s incredible how little gestures can mean the difference in opening doors. Have a great day, everyone.