Don’t Just Hear, Listen
Communicating Directly With Your Customers Can Make All the Difference
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
We all talk to our customers, but do we listen to them? I’m guilty of hearing my lovely wife Joanne, but not listening to her every word. This always gets me in trouble, but after 36 years of happy marriage, I just have to say she’s a saint. I should listen more and hear less.
It’s kind of funny though when I’m on the phone with customers. I find I’m listening more and speaking less, especially when they have a problem. That’s when they want to talk and sometimes vent, just to let you know how they feel. It’s important to let them speak and then carefully consider your response. We know you can never win an argument with a customer, but it’s so important to make that person feel that they’ve communicated their needs and that you understand what they’re saying.
A bit of advice: Try to picture yourself on the other end of the phone and make sure you smile when you speak. That makes a difference.
We make games and most of the time they work perfectly. On the rare occasion where there’s a problem, I may sometimes call the customer out of the blue. Some of these people I know well and some I’ve never met. I can tell you that most often they’re shocked that I’m calling them to see how they are doing and how their issue is being resolved. They respond with so many compliments that it humbles me.
The investment you make will yield dividends in a happier, more loyal customer base and more customer referrals. While it might be easier to text or email, the next best thing to being in person is being the voice on the other end of the phone.
Our industry’s games make people smile so when there are problems, why not reach out and communicate directly with your customers? Some people think it’s best to sell and not follow up on the sale and to not look for trouble by calling and asking how everything is. They worry this may “jinx” the transaction somehow. I can tell you that if you don’t have multiple touch points with your customers, throughout and after the transaction you may not have many customers for long.
There are survey companies that will send questions asking customers about their experiences. When I get surveys, I always try to answer them. If the feedback is either good or not so good, you have an opportunity to make things better. It’s not about what you think, but what the customer thinks and says. Your two perspectives are very different. It’s important to realize that their perception is reality, not what you think it is.
As I’m writing this, Joanne’s sitting nearby watching TV. I think she just said something to me. Gotta go!
Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@ jerseyjackpinball.com.