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Service strategies

The IFA community, on the whole, cannot go to the levels of a big corporate company with staff training but it can make and deliver a customer service promise to clients.

Here are some specific thoughts you can consider to achieve trust.

1. Use the glad, sure, sorry formula.

Complaints and criticism are real gold – treasure them. Whether the customer is disappointed or furious, you have a crisis of trust on your hands. Get off on the right foot with a positive first response. See how this positive language of glad, sure, sorry will signal to the customer you are taking him seriously, and are committed to solving the problem:

“I&#39m glad you are letting me know about this. I&#39m sure we will resolve this, one way or another, and I&#39m sorry to hear that it happened.”

2: Provide progress reports

No news is bad news in the world of superior service. Keep customers constantly updated and informed as to what is happening with their requests and orders.

If you are unable to meet a deadline or keep a promise, do not risk losing the customer&#39s trust. Call him or her as soon as you know.Start offering solutions. Customers will appreciate as much advance notice as possible and usually can help with solutions.

3: Use time to speak

Specificity is a key ingredient for building trust. Show commitment by giving customers clear timeframes. Instead of saying: “Leave it with me – I&#39ll get back to you,” say “I&#39ll follow this through and get back to you by five at the latest.”

4: Use personal ownership and responsibility to speak

Stop passing the buck. Distance yourself from the “it&#39s not my job” mentality. Show you are totally committed to helping by using two important words – personally and myself – like this:

•”I&#39ll do this for you, personally.”

•”I&#39ll take full responsibility myself for making sure that this gets done on time for you” 5: Avoid roadblocks

Roadblocking phrases kill trust and commitment. Listen to yourself. If you find yourself using three types of phrases – stop:

•”Unfortunately, that&#39s our policy.”

•”I can&#39t promise (guarantee).”

•”Unfortunately, that is all….” or “the only thing I can do…” Keep your focus on what you can do, what is possible, what solutions you are able to offer.

6: Foreshadow to set expectations

Like a professional anaesthetist who explains a surgical procedure to a patient to help him understand and increase his trust level, use foreshadowing with your customers too.

This means painting a picture for the customer. Map out what he can expect to happen. When you explain the sequence of events give timeframes and names of the additional people involved. This sets the customers expectations so confusion and unnecessary anxiety are avoided.

7: Wrap up a service or sales conversation

Rushing at the end of a conversation is dangerous. These four simple steps will ensure clarity and deepen the level of trust at the end of a sales conversation.

•Chart out a clear plan of action – who will do what, by when, and for what cost.

•Probe for the customer&#39s acceptance and/or satisfaction.

•Ask “is there anything else”

•Exchange all contact details so you do not waste time hunting for them in the future.

8. Follow up – the ultimate trust builder

Fulfilling agreements and delivering on promises is the foundation of good service and selling requires something more.

To amaze customers,follow up with a phone call,letter, email, note or even a gift as a gesture of appreciation. Following up allows your professional commitment and trustworthiness to shine through.

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