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Offer sincere and specific compliments

This post is the second 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 second advantage is to offer sincere and specific compliments.

When I ask audiences, “How many of you have received a sincere and specific compliment today?” only a smattering of hands go up. Then I ask for volunteers to share the compliments they received and how it made them feel. The responses generally include: appreciated, valued, respected, important—all of which foster positive relationships. And almost always, these participants are further validated by the large group with smiles, nods of recognition, and applause after sharing the compliments received.

When I question why more of them had not been complimented that day, I hear responses such as “People are too busy or preoccupied to notice an opportunity to compliment others” or “When people are more familiar with each other—like in a work environment or a personal relationship—it’s easy to take one another for granted because you see each other everyday.”

Exactly. Over time, this lack of awareness, dulling of sensitivity, and indifference undermines the quality of the relationship (whether professional or personal) and opens the door for a competitor…

Making lasting positive impressions on others demands effort on our part. It requires a choice between conveying indifference or interest toward another person. We must be intentional about it by actively seeking opportunities to offer sincere and specific compliments.

For example, you might say to a customer, “That’s a great looking watch! Is it a Tag Heuer?” And then, assuming you have a genuine interest in and knowledge of watches, demonstrate your enthusiasm by adding something like, “Have you seen the Carrera model endorsed by Jeff Gordon?” He will appreciate that you recognized his watch and, if you are talking to either a watch or NASCAR enthusiast, your interaction is bound to be memorable!

Now I’m not suggesting that you manufacture compliments in order to better serve your customers. The opportunity to offer a sincere and specific compliment will not present itself during every customer service interaction—and insincere compliments are awkward. Just be on the lookout for opportunities to genuinely recognize a customer’s jewelry, attire, hairstyle—even the behavior of young children.

And here’s a unique twist on how Chris Sharma, Nordstrom’s No.1 sales associate for the past 10 years, uses compliments to help drive more than $1 million in annual sales: Appealing to their egos, he tells customers if they don’t get a compliment on an outfit or accessory that he has selected for them, they can return it. It’s a bet he has rarely lost.

We all appreciate compliments. Author Robert Orben said, “A compliment is verbal sunshine.” Be deliberate about recognizing opportunities to genuinely compliment others and let the sun shine bright on your relationships—and business!

When was the last time you were complimented by a service provider?

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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