Here’s a thought. Customer-centric customer service.I called last night (after quitting time in my time zone) to order a product from a vendor. I knew the product — I needed only to confirm the price and close the deal. All they had to do was answer the phone. I got a message system which informed me of their hours, then got a menu, dialed 2 for orders, and got a very informative message that I was #8 in line and the wait time was 14 minutes. I decided not to wait (Side note: heard from a friend today that they estimate low — he was told 2 minutes and waited much more).Called back today during my lunch and the message again stated their hours. I suppose since I was after-hours last night, it didn’t hit me. I was calling during their working hours and they took a full 10 seconds of my time and the first impression of their company was to tell me… what their hours were. Then I got the system menu. Ended up getting piped right through and completed the transaction in less than 5 minutes, the phone lady was very nice, and she even waited for me to run down the hall to retrieve my wallet (which I had left in the training room). All in all, everything except the first impression was first-rate.Which made me wonder, is that the way it should be? Why not make the first impressioni great, too? I’m a customer that doesn’t require a sales pitch — I know what I want and I buy it. But had I been on the fence, I may very well have chosen to go elsewhere. Their first chance to interact with me was their choice to talk about themselves. The first goal in a sales context is to get the customer thinking about the help you can provide. As quickly as possible, get to know them and their problems, not take the opportunity to tell them about yourself.I don’t know of anyone who enjoys plowing through phone menus. So why prolong the situation? Make the customer happy and excited to talk to you, not mad they sat through a bunch of self-promoting messages while you were a captive audience.

Aim to establish a relationship first. If that works, you’ll have all day to share useless facts about yourself and your products.

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