Customer Service
Choice Gives Voice to Customers

by Craig Harrison

   Recently I was asked my choice of meals for an upcoming flight overseas. Twenty-two offerings later, I came to appreciate the power of choice: Kosher, Hindu, Diabetic, Asian Vegetarian Diabetic, Vegetarian with Non-Dairy, Seafood, Low Cholesterol, Low Calorie, Low Protein, Low Sodium, High Fiber, Low Purinarme, Blend Sauce, Gluton Free, Fruit, and more. This month I invite you to consider choice as both a sales and service benefit to your customers.
   In sales we strive to give our clients a choice of yeses, rather than just a yes/no choice. Allowing customers to choose from a choice of products or services assumes they will choose at least one of yours. Let their focus be on which of our products or services to buy.
   In customer service choice is equally powerful. Helping customers decide which service package, remedy or alternative they desire focuses them on solutions rather than the problems that led up to them. Rather than imposing decisions on them, you grant them a say in their own situation. Choice confers power. Customers appreciate it.

More Than "Stock" Options

   Let's face it, one size doesn't fit all. Just ask Yao Ming, 7'-5" center for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association. Gone are the days of just three primary TV channels, your choice of small-medium-large, or the obligatory choice of coffee-tea or milk. Today we live in a world full of choices. What we wear, what we watch, what we do. Customers no longer have to conform to strict limits and few or no choices. Giving customers a choice is a good thing!
   As ISOs in today's competitive market place our ability and willingness to customize is often the differentiator between winning or losing business. Customer relationship management is predicated on the notion that each customer prefers to be treated a certain way.
   So what choices do you give your customers? Do they have choices in how they shop? Are choices available regardinghow they pay you? Do they have choices in how to communicate with you, and how you communicate with them?
   Analyze your customers for their differences as well as similarities. Some prefer to do business with you face-to-face, others via the telephone, e-mail or through your website. What are their "user preferences" when it comes to communication and transactions?

The Power of Choice

   Custom-craft your relationship with customers to serve their needs. Find out their preferences for being informed of sales, paying for products or services, product updates and more. Ask your customers what they value: certain store hours, special return policies, seasonal rates or specials, or something else altogether.
   Remember too that most disgruntled customers lament the powerlessness they experience. When you give them choices you are empowering them to assert their preferences and be catered to in the manner they most desire.
   Whether designing one's own pizza or picking the ideal car package of accessories and accoutrements, customers have grown accustomed to customization and the power of choice. Give voice to your customers through choice.