Here’s something you probably want to hear from customers about your sales team: “Everyone is so nice!”
Nice is good, right? Actually, when it comes to providing outstanding customer service, nice as a stand-alone quality can be a sign of a big problem, warns Tim Huckabee of FloralStrategies.
In the April/May issue of Floral Management, Huckabee walks through a mystery call he made to a shop in the Midwest. For the call, he posed as a man who had recently undergone major surgery and wanted to send flowers to thank his doctor.
“I was the ideal customer, stating I had no clue about flowers and just needed her to guide me toward something appropriate for my needs and proportionate to the sentiment I was trying to convey, Huckabee explained. “This truly was a golden opportunity to sell me anything…I even said, ‘I just want to leave it to you.’”
How did the sales rep respond? By offering a triple-digit design? Talking up the gorgeous orchid plant her shop needed to move? Nope.
“She was polite,” Huckabee wrote. “Beyond that, there is absolutely nothing she did right on this call. Even her politeness touches on a huge issue that is a cancer on the retail floral industry: the misconception that because your staff is friendly or polite, they are giving good customer service. That is not the case.”
Other things that went wrong on the call include:
Sales-crushing questions. The staff member asked a question that drives Huckabee crazy: “Do you have a price range you want to spend?” Huckabee’s take: Customers are calling florists because they want your team to be the experts — in the same way a good waiter will direct diners at a fine restaurant. Instead of asking this question—or any variation of it—make a confident recommendation based on the occasion. (In this case, it was by Huckabee’s own description “life-changing back surgery.”)
Lack of empathy. In the hustle and bustle of your everyday work life, have you trained your staff to empathize and react with emotion to customers’ orders? (Think: congratulatory words for an engagement; words of comfort before a funeral.) That training is important; the sales person in this call missed obvious opportunities to connect, Huckabee said. “While she was polite, she never connected with me by stating, for example, ‘That’s so good to hear about your recovery’ or ‘Let’s send the doctor something spectacular’ – the kind of heartfelt sentiments that would have provided her with an easy way to justify offering a larger design/higher price point.”
Read the full column and listen to the call at safnow.org/TimsCalling.
Plus, mark your calendar for July 24 when Huckabee leads a free webinar for SAF members centered on his popular Floral Management column. You’ll get the chance to hear the call, Huckabee’s take on what went wrong and right, and you’ll have time to ask questions directly of Huckabee.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.