Deciding to try something new for Thanksgiving this year, my husband and I spent ten days in Tokyo visiting family. This was my first time in Asia and I was completely taken with the city and culture I found in Japan. One of the things that impressed me the most was the graciousness of the Japanese people. They were unfailingly courteous and attentive, especially in transactional situations. It’s not atypical for a clerk to escort you out of the building at the end of your purchase and carry your package to the door before thanking you profusely and sending you on your way. Truly, this is how service is done.
Tokyo by night
The more I experienced such exemplary service, the more I came to realize it’s exactly like the concierge approach that we talk about all the time here at OppSource: the idea of completely devoting yourself to a prospect’s moment-of-interest in order to guide him to the appropriate next step. It sounds obvious, but many companies do a poor job of this–they get someone on the hook (by phone, over email, even in person), and their instinct is to push the sale instead of taking the opportunity to really understand what the prospect is looking for or interested in. Sometimes, the prospect just has a simple question and if your answer is to send a product brochure instead of asking thoughtful follow-up questions (and actually listening to the response), you’re missing a potentially greater opportunity.
If you learn best by example, take it from the Japanese:
- A smile goes a long way. I was constantly greeted with a smile in Tokyo and you know what it did? It made me smile right back. Lesson: Good moods go a long way. Even over email or chat, cheerfulness counts.
- Pet the ego. Between the bowing and the smiling and the attentive graciousness, I felt like nothing short of royalty in Japan. Lesson: While you don’t have to fawn all over your prospect, remember that you’re interacting because they have a need right now–keep the focus on who they are and what they need, not what you can sell them.
- To the bitter end. As I glanced back at the Narita airport after our plane was backed out from the gate and onto the tarmac, I noticed that the ground crew had stopped what they were doing and were waving good-bye to the plane. Lesson: Always say good-bye. Whether it’s walking a prospect out the front door or ending a phone or email conversation with well wishes, don’t forget to finish the transaction memorably and warmly.
More than anything, the concierge approach is the most effective way to ensure a positive experience with your brand. Even if you never make a sale, making an impression can be just as valuable.