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Good gravy, how much business do we leave on the table because our amazing customer service …isn’t?

Here’s the scenario…

I’m heading over to a local mall near my house because I’m going to be traveling for the next few weeks and got the bright idea to do my Valentine’s shopping in advance.
Valentine’s Day is a big deal in the Hoffman household. I have always tried to make it special for my wife, 3 daughters, and 1 son. So, I am ready to spend some money today. I’m excited!

As I approach a jewelry store in the mall, the gentleman behind the counter greets me with a heartfelt welcome.

“Good afternoon, sir. Come on in. How do you find yourself on this fine afternoon?” (Wow, what a great welcome! He is relaxed and obviously in a good mood. My defenses drop.)

“Just doing a little Valentine’s shopping.”

“Well, you’ve come to the right place,” he responds and introduces me to an associate to help me.

Dottie smiles. She is obviously in the same good mood.

“Come on over here, sir, and let me show you what we have that might make this Valentine’s Day a little special.”

Wow, a mind reader! She knows exactly what I’m looking for. How awesome is that?!

Dottie proceeds to ask me what type of stones I like. I tell her that my wife has been requesting onyx, lately. (My wife loves onyx.)

Dottie informs me that they do not work with onyx very often because the stone is too soft for a lot of jewelry. However, she wants to show me some very beautiful pieces that they just brought in for the holiday.

And… we’re off! A litany of choices that are, in fact beautiful, but may or may not be appropriate.

Dottie is a chatterbox. We proceed to cover almost the entire shop! Option after option of necklaces and rings that all appeals to Dottie. Every example shown is followed up with the well-worn phrases, “How do you like this piece?” … “How does this one strike you?” … “Do you think she’d like this?”

Dottie, this is such a classic mistake! We’re just playing darts with blindfolds on!

I realize that I have spent the entire time trying to put together the package that would make everyone I was shopping for happy… in my own mind. Dottie doesn’t even realize there are multiple people that I’m buying for, so of course she’s not helping. And I could tell she, too, is getting a little weary. (Maybe she’s decided she’s spending too much time with someone that she thinks, “isn’t going to buy anything”, and wants to move on?)

But, I’ve got money! I’ve got goals! Come on, Dottie!

She’s giving me the presentation, but not OWNING the conversation. Other than ONE question about stones and me mentioning my wife, Dottie completely misses the opportunity.

If she spent just a few moments asking more questions about my specific desires, what a different experience this would be. I am buying for four women of different ages and different tastes – would she show me different combinations if she knew that? What have they liked in the past? Should they match? What’s my price range? Where should we focus; rings, necklaces, bracelets? Did I want to get a piece of jewelry for my son as well? Holy cow, there’s an opportunity here for the ASKING.

Hmmm. Dottie, you little pistol, I’m exhausted. Dottie’s worn out.

I end up saying, “Thank you very much, but the hunt must continue,” and so, I leave. There are many other options in the mall.

Brilliant? No. Common? Yes. Fixable? Very!

It’s time to start OWNING the conversation.

That doesn’t mean bestowing your knowledge and showering me with options. No! When you are a problem solver in a sales or customer service encounter, take control of that crucial part of the problem-solving conversation that says, “Before I talk about me, let’s talk about you!”

It’s amazing how solutions and sales will appear when you use your ability to ASK questions and LISTEN to fully understand the customer’s side of the story…FIRST!

This situation is NOT a jewelry store issue. Anytime we find ourselves in a position to solve a problem, we tend to act a lot like Dottie and overshare our knowledge. But, we can keep kissing those customers goodbye, if we’re not paying attention. The answers are right in front of us if we just own it – guide the conversation by asking questions and listening for the true wants and needs.

How much money are you leaving on the table and how many problems are never solved correctly because we never find out what the real concerns are?

You’ve got to OWN IT, Dottie!

(BTW… I did finally find another jewelry store, where a completely amazing version of “Dottie” asked so many questions, that it turned into a one-stop shop for the whole holiday. I am happily going to blow the family away this year! Whooda man?!?!)