Make the first move

When I was in high school I worked as a retail sales associate in a clothing store. This experience taught me the importance of making the first move when helping customers. I also learned that how I made my first move was almost as important as making it.

Poor Example
Your customers know where to find you, so they can contact you if they have any questions. Some of my co-workers in the clothing store took this approach. Sales would generally go down and shoplifting would go up when they were on duty.

Good Example
Good customer service is proactive, so you initiate contact with your customers and ask, "May I help you?" I generally got good reactions when I did this at the clothing store, although I also noticed very few people said, "Yes, I could use your help."

Great Example
Customers often don't know what type of questions they have or what help they might need, so you overcome this by initiating a little conversation. Here are some examples:

  • When I worked in retail, I learned to ask customers what brought them into the store today. That often sparked conversation about what they were looking for and made it easy for me to find ways to help them.
  • Later, when I worked for a catalog company, I would sometimes call customers just to see how they liked some products they had recently ordered. This was usually a pleasant surprise for the customer and would often result in additional business.
  • Today, I often check in on my consulting clients just to see how they are doing, even if we aren't currently working on a project together. This lets them know I care about their success and makes it more likely they'll hire me when they do need my help.