Successful businesses realize that selling excellent products at reasonable prices is not enough. They have to couple that with excellent customer service. This last component cannot be overlooked. To most consumers it’s a vital ingredient.
When people ask me which business offers the best customer service, I automatically say Starbucks. My valued LinkedIn connection and Chief Influence Officer, Brian Ahearn, felt the same way in 2013 when he wrote 5 Reasons Why Starbucks is so Persuasive.
That was awhile ago, but I’m willing to bet he still prefers Starbucks over the competition.
I asked Brian which five traits of customer service stand out in his mind. He was quick to rattle them off—I’m sure he could think of others, though. His five traits are: friendly, responsive, helpful, empathetic, and knowledgeable.
Smart job seekers understand that everyone is their customer.
My experience with Starbucks has consistently been pleasant because the baristas are…friendly. They smile, ask me if I need anything else, and always wish me a good day. I feel as if I’m the only one they’re waiting on.
Not only should you smile; you should also make eye contact and project warmth in your voice. Again, simple advice; but I can attest that when my clients do all threee of these three, they receive a better response from me and others.
At a networking event, you’ll come across as friendly while talking with networking partners, which makes you come across as someone they would recommend to a hiring authority, if the opportunity arises. Of course there are other attributes you need to demonstrate.
Similarly, your friendly demeanor is essential in an interview, where you want to come across as affable, someone with whom people want to work. Friendly seems like a simple trait, yet it packs a bigger punch then most think.
The baristas that take my order at the drive-through don’t need to be told twice what I and the members in my car want. They make me think, “Dang, they’re on the ball.” This is one example of responsiveness. I’m sure you can think of others.
You have to be responsive to your networking partners who rely on you for advice and possible leads. When answering a job ad, you must send your résumé and cover letter to potential employers within a day or two. This will indicate how responsive you’ll be when you work for them.
When being interviewed on the phone, showing great customer service means getting back to the interviewer quickly. Many a job seeker has lost out on jobs because they kept the interviewer waiting. Be prepared to answer the difficult questions; don’t waste the interviewer’s time.
This trait brings to mind companies that are aren’t helpful. The associates are nowhere in sight, and when you happen to land one like a fish, they give you convoluted directions that confuse you more than help.
Being helpful in the job search means helping others who are looking for work. I wrote a post about giving to others while networking. This means thinking of others before thinking of yourself, which may seem difficult given your situation.
Help employers by applying for jobs for which you’re qualified. I know this sounds like basic information, but this is one of the biggest complaints recruiters and hiring managers have. I tell my clients they should meet at least 85% of the requirements, not 40% or 50%.
A company that shows empathy will understand the concerns of its customers. Products or services that don’t perform up to standards and need to be returned without hassle is one example of showing empathy.
This post from John White describes how his employer handled a difficult situation involving irate customers.
As a career strategist, I see the roller coaster of emotions job seekers go through in their job search. As my customers I have to be empathetic to their plight. This doesn’t mean, however, that I should let them lose focus and drive because of their turmoil.
Nor should you allow your fellow networkers lose sight of the endgame. Understand what they’re experiencing, but hold them accountable for their search. You can empathize with them, because you’ve been there, but you also realize they have to conduct their search, when they may want to stay home and watch Ellen.
Have you ever come across a technical customer service rep who answers all your questions, even the ones before you ask them. They lead you through a serious of complicated procedures in order to get your computer up and running. You’re so grateful that you want to talk to their supervisor so you can praise your technical customer service rep.
This is how you need to come across in the job search. I think of Mavens who are there to provide advice to struggling job seekers; whether this is in an organized networking group or a meetup or one-on-one.
One client who comes to mind is not only knowledgeable, he’s also caring.
Of course, demonstrating knowledge is most important when you’re sitting in the hot seat at an interview. Able to answer questions about the role, company, even competition is essential to your success. This requires extensive research on these three elements, not a cursory read of the job description and website.
Take your research to the next level—this is what the knowledgeable customer service rep—did. Study anything written about the company on the Internet. Talk to people who work at the company. Read press releases and annual reports if the company is public. Leave no rocks uncovered.
No one values and knows customer service as well as Brian Ahearn. A recent post he wrote describes how last impressions are lasting impressions. It is a wonderful story that I can relate to.
I may even be more stringent than him, because even one bad experience may cause me not to return to a company. Yes, I know this is sad, but I do value customer service. And so should job seekers. They must realize that providing great customer service is essential to their search. Essential.