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How to engage with customers

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If your goal is serve your customers well, you must first engage with them. Good customer service includes the manner in which you engage customers and help them feel comfortable doing business with you. Here are some examples of good customer engagement:

1. Offer a strong welcome. Be it on the phone or in person, a friendly greeting makes your customer feel comfortable and appreciated. This “first impression” sets the tone for the interaction to follow.

2. Follow up the greeting with an open-ended question. Follow up with a question specific to the reason the customer is calling or shopping with you. Don’t ask a yes or no question (“Can I help you?”). Instead, ask an open-ended question such as, “What are you looking for today?” In this way, you will be able to ascertain why the customer wants to do business with you.

3. Ask why. Once you understand what the customer wants, ask why. Why does the customer need your help or your product? Knowing this may reveal other opportunities for you to help.

4. Up-sell. Up-sell, if doing so is appropriate. For example, if a customer is at an Ace Hardware store buying a can of paint, it is perfectly logical — and many times appreciated by the customer — to ask if he needs brushes or other items to complete a paint project. Imagine the customer getting home and realizing that he forgot the brushes. Not up-selling when appropriate is actually poor customer service.

5. Ask what else. Don’t finish the customer interaction without asking what else customers may be looking for or what other type of help they may need. This may be something completely unrelated to the purchase they are about to make or the reason for their original contact, and you may be able to uncover other selling opportunities.

And don’t forget to say “thank you.” Thanking your customers may be one of the most important sales tactics there is. Show your appreciation and send them off with a strong final impression. It’s just as important — if not more so — than the first impression you make.

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email [email protected] or go to


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