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Just Ask One Simple Question

You want every interaction with your customer to be memorable. From the start, you want your customers to be welcomed with a sincere and positive greeting. You want to close the interaction with a genuine thank you – a show of appreciation for their business. In between the greeting and the close, you want to be able to do many other good things such as, ask the right questions, build value, and close the rental.

The challenge in the equipment rental business is that rental is technical in nature and your inside salesperson was not typically hired for his or her sales skills. Generally speaking, they were hired because they understand the rental business and the equipment. The people you hire are nice and professional, but they are more order-takers. Your customer will ask a question and they will answer it. The customer will generally control the conversation. I see this all the time.

You have good people, but they just do not think about customer service and sales skills as their primary job. If you buy into that premise, then let’s fix just one thing today. Let’s get them to ask one question in each customer interaction – Is there anything else I can help you with today? It is that simple.

This question sends the right message. It shows the customer that:

  • You care
  • You want to sell or rent them something else
  • You are more than an order-taker.

This one simple question is not intrusive or aggressive. We do not seem to mind it when someone at a restaurant asks it. It is a natural part of providing good customer service.

This question might also help you make more money. If just one out of 10 or 20 of your customers indicate that they would like something else, it will have a significant impact on your revenue.

You can also get creative here. Since it is the spirit of the question that I am looking for, you can be more specific with the question by suggesting a specific need. For example, you might suggest some supplies that would complement what they are renting or suggest something that is safety related. The customer will take no offense to your asking and will most likely appreciate the reminder.

If you are a manager or leader in your company, coach your team members to ask the question. Make sure they understand why it is important and that it can add value to the interaction.

An effective tool is to practice the question with them. Once they practice it, they will know it is not difficult to do. They will also get the message that this question and level of service is important to the customer and your company. In addition to practicing this skill with your staff, there are two other ways you can implement this behavior effectively and easily.

  1. Do it yourself. Employees will follow your lead and (hopefully) learn good behaviors from you.
  2. Reinforce the skill. When you notice that employees are doing the skill, make note of it. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. If they are not doing it, mention that as well.

If your team struggles with providing exceptional customer service, it might also be time to invest in training. Legendary customer service can be an important competitive advantage. You want to build a culture in which you are known for your great service and great products.

If training is not practical, then take small steps. An effective step is asking that one question in a sincere and consistent manner: Is there anything else I can help you with today?