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Express genuine interest

This post is the first in a series that will identify 10 different customer service advantages that have emerged from my analysis of customer satisfaction data. Maybe you have capitalized on one or more of these advantages in your own business? The first advantage is to express genuine interest.

Expressing genuine interest takes many forms: engaging communication; anticipating needs; displaying attention to detail; following-up; conveying a sense of urgency; etc.

In this post, I’ll reference a Feb. 15, 2012 Wall Street Journal article titled, Shopping Secrets of the Pros by Ray A. Smith that contains several examples of retail sales associates expressing genuine interest in their customers.

Engaging communication:

One of the top-ranked sales associates profiled in the article, Claudia Coleman of Neiman Marcus, said, “You have to listen to the customer. Ask them their favorite color, what they like, what they do—all these questions to be able to understand their needs.”

Anticipate needs:

Many of Ms. Coleman’s customers attend the same charity events and galas, and so she has become known for discreetly keeping track of who buys what for which event. When someone wants a dress that Ms. Coleman knows another woman has already bought, she’ll say, “I’m very sorry, that dress has been sold,” and guide them to something else.

Display attention to detail:

Keeping track of all those moving parts is a challenge. Ms. Coleman keeps meticulous notes and memorizes dates and purchases.


Ms. Coleman follows up purchases with a thank-you note, and she often goes a step further, making a phone call or sending a text to ask how the purchase worked out or to call a customer’s attention to something new in the store.

By expressing genuine interest in her customers, Ms. Coleman has an advantage over average sales associates. This advantage not only distinguishes her as a top-ranked personal shopper, it also separates Neiman Marcus from average department stores in the eyes of its customers.

How do you express genuine interest in your customers?

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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