Platinum is more expensive than gold because it is rarer. Similarly, a platinum level of service is more precious than the “gold standard” of service offered by most sales professionals. The Golden Rule states: “Treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves.” It is the rare sales professional, however, who knows and lives by the Platinum Rule: “Treat other people as they would wish to be treated.” The difference comes down to a small, but meaningful, change in perspective.
To treat others the way I would like to be treated requires only that I know what makes me happy. It assumes that what I consider good service will apply to everyone else. On the other hand, treating others as they would wish to be treated turns my focus outward. It means I need to know how to relate to people, to recognize that different people have different likes and preferences, and to identify and manage other people’s emotions. In other words, following the Platinum Rule requires a sales professional to possess a high degree of emotional intelligence.
Recently I was fortunate to encounter one such salesperson at Bergdorf Goodman when I went shopping there for a handbag. Since I didn’t have a particular bag in mind, the salesperson began by asking me questions about my lifestyle and the types of things I carry in my bag. As he learned what I thought important, he selected various bags and described their benefits to me. He seemed to pick up cues regarding the textures and colors I preferred. Throughout the entire interaction, I felt as though he gave me his undivided attention. When we finally did find the “perfect” handbag, I left the store feeling as though he knew me better than I knew myself. He followed up a few days later to see how I was enjoying my new purchase.
Here are some of the things he did to deliver platinum service:
Provide the human touch. My salesperson greeted me with a warm smile. After spending several minutes perusing bags on my own, he was the only salesperson to approach me and introduce himself. He was friendly, courteous and respectful of my time.
Ask open ended questions. My sales professional learned what was important to me by asking questions. Remember, good salespeople have great answers, but great salespeople have great questions. (See article). Then he positioned the features of each product in a way to benefited me. A feature is a statement of value, while a benefit is a personalized statement of value. For example, a delicate pearl bracelet may be beautiful, but it may not be the best choice for someone with an active lifestyle. (For more on features vs. benefits see “What’s it to You? Igniting Customer Desire”).
Get personal. Getting personal, doesn’t mean getting buddy-buddy. The service relationship must always remain professional. This is where your emotional intelligence skills come into play. Maintain eye contact, make people feel comfortable, be mindful of verbal and physical cues. Make an effort to remember personal details customers may share about their jobs, family, important life events, etc. Next time you see your customer, remember to ask how they enjoyed that vacation they were so excited about.
Follow up. The customer relationship does not end when they walk about the door. One hallmark of platinum service is to make sure you follow up after a purchase. A simple thank you note or a quick “Hope you’re enjoying your new bag” goes a long way to increasing customer loyalty.
Appreciate your customers. Remember, without them, where would you be? Keeping this thought first and foremost in your mind will ensure you deliver platinum service each and every time.