In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, he talks about giving compliments as being like leaving beacons of light.

The world is a very small place and before you know it, you’ll do a full circle and meet people again, and they will remember you for the small compliments that you gave them.

This article is about giving those small compliments, which can be a simple and easy thing to do but will have a massive impact on the overall experience a customer has.

I am going to tell you now about Gary, who works for National Car Hire in Glasgow. A few years ago, I was working in a place called Livingston. As I was living in Leeds at the time, I was flying to Glasgow, hiring a car and going from there. The day that I first met Gary, I was waiting to return my hire car. Ahead of me was a lady who was also returning her hire car. The interaction between them went something like this.

Gary: ‘How was your car? Great, can I just ask, did you fill it up with fuel?’
Lady: ‘Oh no, I didn’t actually.’
Gary: ‘Not to worry, I can do that for you, but can I just ask what time your flight is?’
Lady: ‘Actually I’ve got here quite early, my flight doesn’t leave for about four hours.’
Gary: ‘Okay, well in that case I’d recommend that you just pop to the petrol station down the road, fill the car up and bring it back, because the thing is, if I fill the car up for you it’s going to cost you a lot more.’
Lady: ‘Brilliant, thanks I’ll do that and be back shortly.’

I listened to this whole interaction as I was waiting my turn. When I approached the counter I told Gary that he’d given that lady great service, I said that I’d noticed that he’d saved her money and helped to make sure she didn’t get landed with a massive bill. I said well done for being so helpful.

Gary thanked me for the compliment and then told me that the company has a scheme for employee of the month. ‘Could you just jot that down on a quick email and send it to me whilst you’re on your flight back home?’ he asked me. I said of course and while I was waiting for my flight, I sent him a quick email, Gary replied thanking me and I thought no more about it.

A few months later I found myself back in Glasgow and I needed a hire car. When I arrived, I realised that it was Gary behind the counter. ‘Hello Mr Scott,’ he greeted me. ‘Thank you ever so much for sending me that email. It was brilliant, really means the world to me.’

Then he asked, ‘What car have you booked this time?’ I told him it was an Astra or something like that, I think it was the compact D vehicle, so not an expensive option. Gary said, ‘Do you want an upgrade?’ I started to say, ‘It’s okay, I already paid for this one,’ but Gary interjected to tell me the upgrade would be free of charge. I asked, ‘What have you got?’ He pointed to a white BMW outside and said, ‘You can have that for the week.’ At the time, I had never driven a BMW before, so I was ecstatic and drove it around for the week having a great time.

In this instance, I was the customer and I gave Gary a compliment, but he remembered me months later. Like I said at the start, compliments are like beacons of light that you leave behind, and people will remember you for them.

When you are working in the customer service space, wherever you can you should give people compliments because they will remember you. They can be simple compliments such as, ‘That’s a really nice name, where does that originate from?’, or ‘You live in so and so, that’s a lovely place isn’t it? I’ve got family who live there.’

These simple little things will make the customer feel good and help you to create that emotional connection with them. As a customer service agent, you always have to think about how you can deliver a genuine, sincere, authentic compliment to each customer, whether you are speaking to them on the phone or face to face.

Pay compliments in the right way

I have got another quick example for you about how compliments not only make you memorable, but make people inclined to do business with you.

I remember meeting a woman at a networking event once and one of the first things she said to me was that she loved my shoes. Instantly, I liked her. I thought, ‘You know what, if there’s a chance for me to do business with you, I definitely will.’ All she did was pay me a simple, genuine, sincere compliment. But that small gesture made me feel really good about myself.

The key when it comes to giving compliments is to deliver them in the right way. They need to feel real, genuine, sincere and authentic; they shouldn’t just be a box-ticking exercise.

To make sure that your compliment lands in the right way, it needs to form part of the natural conversation. If you are trying too hard to compliment someone, it is not going to land. That means you need to make sure all your conversations with customers are purposeful. Be curious and demonstrate an interest and make sure the customer is willing and open to sharing information. You have always got to be looking for that opportunity to deliver them with that simple one-liner that will not only act as a compliment, but also show that you’re really listening to the information they’re sharing with you.

Gold dust

There is always gold dust in every conversation. The key is in listening out for it and taking the opportunity when that gold dust presents itself. Make your compliments genuine, authentic and sincere and introduce them to the conversation in a fluid way. Frame them in a way that will make the person you are talking to feel good. Remember, it is all about creating a positive experience for the customer.

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