In your office there will be rules; standard operating procedures that help with inducting new staff, training long-term staff and ensuring the smooth running of day to day business.
Sometimes those rules are well documented in step-by-step guides, and sometimes they are handed down verbally like a long-standing family tradition or folktale. Often, which style your business adopts will come down to your company values and your culture. Neither way is wrong and both have their advantages.
What about those elements of culture that are harder to define? Those elements that are just ‘understood’ to be necessary and are far harder to document in a handbook?
One of those elements is the ability to inspire confidence in your brand. It’s crucial that, if you want to attract, retain, and grow your loyal customer base, everyone in your business understands the term ‘inspiring confidence’. There are many little aspects of their day-to-day role that can either contribute to the overall customer confidence in the brand or detract from it.
Every action we take has the ability to do one or the other, and shifting towards deliberately inspiring confidence in everything you do has the ability to transform the customer experience.
So, what does inspiring confidence actually mean?
A quick search will tell you that inspiring confidence means to make people feel confident because they trust your ability.
This extends deep into the heart of your business and every staff member can shape the impression a customer has of your brand. Your ability to inspire confidence can be made or broken in the space of just a few minutes.
What can you do to take control and make sure that everyone in the organisation deliberately tries to inspire confidence with all they do?
Well, that is the hard part. This isn’t about training for grand gestures, or wow moments. Inspiring confidence is a quiet, gentle, and steady thing and it’s crucial that it is embedded in the values of your team if it is going to consistently build trust.
That said, here are some examples that might help get you started reviewing your own customer interactions.
1. Pause before you speak and consider the words you choose.
Inspiring confidence in the brand is really just another way to say – will this make us look good, reliable, trustworthy, and like someone that a customer would want to buy from?
It’s always good to try and place yourself in the customer’s shoes when you ask this question.
You can try saying it out loud and always include “I the customer” in the sentence.
Would I the customer be filled with confidence in our brand if someone answered the phone and said ‘Sorry it took so long to answer, it’s been so busy all day – the phones haven’t stopped ringing, we’ve been absolutely manic with new customers!’?
Let’s deconstruct the sentence and see what happens:
Does this message inspire confidence? No – it more likely sends the message that things are out of control, unplanned for, and hectic. These are all ingredients that make it likely for elements of great service to be overlooked, forgotten, or not considered in the first place. It doesn’t send the right message at all.
Try to think of a better way to convey your message; one that inspires confidence. For example – you could say: ‘Thank you for waiting, I’m sorry for the unusual wait and I really appreciate your time. We’ve just had a great response to our new advert and have been busier than usual – but you have my full attention so how can I help today?’
2. Ask yourself the question.
Get into the habit of asking yourself each time you make a decision, or each time you take a customer facing action – will this inspire customer confidence in the brand? To begin with it might feel somewhat strange, you might have to really consider how a customer would perceive an action, a response, or a statement. You will need to unpick sentences, play back conversations and look at documentation in a new light, but very quickly you will start to change the way you work and your output will naturally shift to one of inspiring confidence.
3. Show enthusiasm no matter the time of day
Do you greet each customer with the same level of enthusiasm, whether they are the first call of the day, or whether they just so happen to have called 30 seconds before you switched your phone off for the day EVEN if you now know you will probably be ten minutes later leaving as a result? That customer has called during opening hours and deserves to feel valued. It’s okay to feel disappointed that you might be late but it’s not okay to let the customer feel that disappointment. Try to always present the customer with a consistently positive experience.
If you find yourself regularly being late as a result then it might be worth reviewing the shift times and closing lines fifteen minutes before the last shift finishes for the day to assist with work / life balance.
4. Explain yourself clearly
Often, we think we have explained ourselves clearly. We assume there is a level of knowledge that the customer has that matches our own, when this is not always the case. Consider this example and how it applies to what you do.
You walk into your office. A strange woman in there. She smiles, walks towards you, points to a chair and then guides you to that chair. Once you have sat down, she takes of your shoes and takes out a tape measure. She measures first one foot then the other – all without saying a word to you.
How would you feel?
Confused, like your space has been invaded, scared and a little upset or all of the above?
Same setup – but this time the strange woman smiles, says “Hi I’m Claire, great to meet you. Would you mind taking a seat, removing your shoes and letting me measure your feet?”
How would you feel this time?
Probably still confused – possibly less scared but unlikely to just comply.
This time, she says: “Hi, I’m Claire – we haven’t met but your company has hired me to measure all their employees’ feet. They are going to provide you with new safety footwear that will help keep you safe at work, reduce the chance of foot injuries and the best bit is that it won’t cost you a penny. Do you mind taking a seat and letting me measure your feet?”
Now how do you feel?
Not only has Claire explained what she will be doing, but she’s explained why, and she’s demonstrated what the value will be to you.
This is a far more comprehensive answer that is likely to leave you feeling happier and more reassured.
Take a look at your own customer interactions and your common responses to customer questions. Can you confidently say that for all of them you have:
- Clearly communicated – no jargon!
- Explained why something is the case
- Demonstrated the value to them
5. Check back in with your customer
Do you check that you have answered your customers’ questions fully? Often a customer will present one question, and we will answer it to what we assume to be their sat/isfaction. How often though do we actually ask, “have I answered all your questions today?”? It’s a simple thing, but often the answer is no. The customer may have only had one question at the start of the interaction, but the discussion can trigger more questions. Sometimes it may just be that we missed one of their concerns or misunderstood their main frustration.
By asking this question before finishing your interaction, you can catch anything outstanding and know that when you end the call your customer is left more satisfied.
There are so many ways that you can add to (or detract from…) your customer confidence, but the key is to ensure that everyone in the team is aware of the potential for this and understand the impact it can have.
Once they are thinking ‘inspire confidence’, they can apply this to any decision-making, any documentation they send out, any questions they answer… It’s not about writing a standard operating procedure that gives them the exact answers, it’s more about training everyone in the organisation to adopt ‘inspiring confidence’ as a core value. That way they can work out the answer on their own, be more empowered, and help drive the brand forward – inspiring confidence in everything they do.
So – give it a go. Put inspiring confidence into the core of your operations and take satisfaction in the positive changes it can make.