CRASH THROUGH CONFLICT FOR YOUR BIGGEST SERVICE SUCCESSES

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No matter what industry you call home, the biggest gift you can give to your team is to never be scared to have the tough conversations.

I believe this wholeheartedly, which is why our most recent FPG webinar titled The 3 Steps to be Strengthened by Conflict resonated with me so deeply. I welcomed guests Camille Nesbitt-Jenkins, the VP of National Customer Relations at Meritage Homes, and Avid Ratings founder Paul Cardis for a transformative hour of conversation.

I was able to immediately expand the growing stack of books on my nightstand with one of my first questions about an influential book that shaped the way they viewed our topic. Camille proudly held up The Nordstrom Way, a look from authors Robert Spencer and Patrick D. McCarthy into how Nordstrom took the customer service world by storm by creating a model on how to craft an experience for customers. And Paul’s selection of the celebrated technology-focused Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff also made it on the list. I’m excited to jump into each book.

Camille even expressed that her learnings from The Nordstrom Way helped her work through the process of helping victims from the recent hurricanes. Home damage wasn’t always covered by warrantees, which meant plenty of difficult conversations and lots of empathy along the way. “We still had to be there as a trusted advisor and help people through it,” Camille said.

I walked away with so many tangible teaching moments I’m excited to put into practice. Here are my three biggest takeaways.

Customer satisfaction isn’t about perfection, it’s about caring and responding

Paul made an important, enduring point when he said that we need to let go of the idea that perfection equals great customer service. Instead, we need to view the way we relate to our customers and clients as something that “starts with heart,” as Camille would say. We can’t ever expect perfection out of imperfect people, but we can expect to use difficult conversations as a way to be authentic and always look to do the right thing first.

The more we can show our clients and customers we care about their issues and help them find solutions – as opposed to shutting out the noise and hoping everything is perfect – the more our customers will become addicted, raving fans.

Reverence can totally change your opinion

If you don’t revere or even respect the process that went into making the product you buy, it’s much harder to understand or even appreciate its flaws. Take a fine, handmade rug for example. The amount of time and effort that went into weaving the thousands of threads together to make that wonderful tapestry is staggering, but since it was crafted by hand it won’t be perfect. There will be frays, and small threads slightly out of place. But this is part of what we pay for; the handcrafted beauty that comes with imperfection.

In Camille’s world, it’s a unique thing to be able to buy a new home and see its production through from start to finish. Instilling that reverence into her clients that despite some of the possible setbacks, this home is literally being built from scratch just for you. If we can do that for our clients and create those from-scratch moments, we’ll gain rapport from the start.

Learn how to say no without saying no

I saved the best for last.

Camille told a wonderful story about how a customer spilled oil on their countertop, which left a nasty stain. The customer wanted it replaced and argued that it if the counter was properly treated from the start, it wouldn’t have stained. After being told no numerous times, the case fell to Camille’s desk. I want you to see what she did. Instead of saying no, she researched the stain, showed them the effects of what happens when it sits for a long period of time, and offered tangible suggestions on how to fix it.

She then told the customer that while there’s nothing in the warrantee that would cover this sort of event, they offered a way to fix it anyway. In that entire process not only did she never tell the customer no, but she offered tangible solutions on how to move forward. And what was the result? She got a thank-you email at the end of the day.

I believe that at the highest level, selling and customer service are exactly the same thing. In both disciplines you can make a customer feel valued by providing them certainty, making them feel wanted and not being afraid to tackle the tough conversations.

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