Improving Your Customer Service Print
Written by Doug Fleener   
Monday, 15 August 2011 09:13 AM America/New_York

Concentrate on seizing those important ‘Moments of Connectivity’Fleener_Doug

In customer experience management, we often talk about Moments of Truth. The term was coined by Jan Carlzon, who managed the Scandinavian SAS Airlines. He used it for those moments in which important brand impressions—for good or bad—are made.

In retail, Moments of Truth occur in key interactions:

  • on the phone
  • when a customer enters the store
  • when he/she is engaged by an employee
  • at checkout
  • leaving the store
  • in follow-up cards, emails, newsletters.

Along with a store’s products and environment, these moments add up to the customer’s experience.

At the staff level in specialty stores, we can drill it down another level to what I call “Moments of Connectivity.” Those happen by taking advantage of key interactions to connect with the customer. A meaningful connection is one that develops trust, demonstrates a commitment to the customer and leads to a more enjoyable experience.

Many of these key interactions overlap with the Moments of Truth, but there are also some additional engagement points.

1. First engagement.  Sadly, many stores short-circuit right here by ignoring customers or opening with “How may I help you?” 

The goal at this point is to:

  • Demonstrate your priority to customer service/experience.
  • Let your customer know you’re glad he/she came into your store.
  • Create a welcoming environment.

2. The transition from welcoming the customer to developing the relationship.  Many customers want to be left alone, but more often than not, it is because of the quality of the first engagement.

We want to learn about our customer and the reason for his/her visit. Notice the word “reason,” not “need.” Too often we disconnect from the customer if they don’t state a need.

Remember this: It’s all about the customer and their connection to our store, our products and the reason for the visit. Our questions and comments should be leading us to establish that connection.

Great sales associates don’t small-talk; they establish a relationship. They engage with purpose. They show sincere interest.

3. Showing or recommending the product. The most successful sales associates establish a very strong connection here. They continue to learn more about their customer in relation to the products. They aren’t shy with their professional opinion, but at the same time they never forget that the goal is to help the customer purchase the right products for them.

If an associate hasn’t connected with the customer before this, the chance of truly connecting while showing the products is low.

I’ve seen a number of people who establish a number of wonderful connections with the customer and then disconnect when showing/recommending products.

They either didn’t learn enough about the customer before showing/recommending products, or they have unresolved issues about being in retail sales.

Forget customer service, it’s all about the connection and experience.

A former director of retail for Bose Corp. and an independent store owner, Doug Fleener is president of retail and customer experience consulting firm Dynamic Experiences Group. Learn more at