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Only you know how your organization's systems work. Only you know if your systems are typical for your industry or specialty area. Not every customer does. If you'd like fewer complaints and to maintain positive relations with your customers, enlighten them!

Educating customers about issues that can affect their perceptions of your customer service can greatly affect customer acquisition and retention. This is especially true with products or services that require some "insider" information to understand the full picture.

I just experienced this myself when purchasing a 2010 car for my daughter. Going to car dealerships right from the get-go is an apprehension many of us harbor. Maybe it's unfair, but decades of slick, pushy sales techniques have contributed to this reputation.

Without recounting the entire tale, let's just say that the deal would have fallen through had I not intervened between sales manager and hubby. And the outcome would have been a very negative brand experience on our family's part. And why? Because the manager didn't enlighten us regarding what is typical in our state or what to expect.

Unlike other places, a "new" car here is considered new until it has been titled, so it can frequently have mileage on it. In our case, about 210 miles. That's what concerned hubby. His first instinct was that the dealer was trying to pull a fast one and sell us a used car. If he wasn't forthcoming on this information, how could we trust the rest of what he told us? If the vehicle was used as a loaner to other customers or taken for test drives, which it was, then it seemed logical that it wasn't a new car.

In addition, it is typical for some car dealers here to delay updating the manufacturer's database with their sold inventory until the end of the month, even though salespeople are supposed to do this daily. It has something to do with competition between the dealers. Now, is this customer-oriented? No, of course not, especially if the salesperson is searching the computer system to locate the car you want from a competing dealership. Our perspective: How come the computer shows all this inventory and yet it's taking two days to find a car with her specs? Sounds suspicious, doesn't it?

Both these pieces of information were news for us. A lot of angst and suspicion could have been avoided had the salesperson advised us of these norms in advance---not after customer frustration. He could have said, "Just so you know, it's very typical here for new cars to have a few miles on them. This is a widespread practice in our state."

So, think of any pertinent information you can share with your customers and prospects that may affect their perceptions of your customer service and build trust with your brand. This doesn't mean you should burden them with your organization's internal issues and challenges. But if there are common practices or standards that you know, don't assume your customers will know them, too.

Can you give a good example of this type of situation BEFORE and AFTER you enlightened your customers about something? Did it work?

Continue reading "No Mind Melding Here: Don't Assume Your Customers Know What You Know" ... Read the full article

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image of Elaine Fogel

Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel

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