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Give to Get Better Customer Satisfaction Monica Postell

There’s a cus­tomer ser­vice skill that I par­tic­u­larly like because of its power to impact cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. It’s called “give to get." In essence “give to get’ sug­gests that rather than act­ing like the Grand Inquisi­tor, I should pro­vide some infor­ma­tion – like what’s in it for you or why I need what­ever I’m ask­ing about – before ask­ing for it. I find it fos­ters coop­er­a­tion, nets bet­ter results, and truly encour­ages col­lab­o­ra­tion if I do that rather than demand­ing infor­ma­tion from cus­tomers with­out explanation.

It strikes me that the con­cept also applies to cus­tomer ser­vice, tech­ni­cal sup­port, and sales sit­u­a­tions in which you’re try­ing to pro­mote a solu­tion to a prob­lem. Scott Anthony recently wrote about the “curse of knowl­edge” in a  Har­vard Review Pub­lish­ing blog.

“Chip and Dan Heath described the curse of knowl­edge nicely in their 2007 book Made to Stick (highly rec­om­mended to all inno­va­tors). The basic prob­lem: peo­ple who have deep knowl­edge about a topic some­times assume other peo­ple have that same knowl­edge. That can lead to major missteps.”

Mr. Anthony writes mostly about prod­uct inno­va­tion but he gave an exam­ple in his blog post that illus­trated my point — that you have to “give to get” when you’re work­ing with customers.

"Dur­ing my meet­ing at Gillette, one group mem­ber described how "of course" the last place you should shave is around your mouth. As I tend to shave my chin last, I asked him why."

"Well, that part of the face has the most nerve end­ings," he explained. "So you need to give more time for your shave prep [lotion or gel] to work."

Know­ing a lot about your prod­uct can actu­ally cause prob­lems in tech­ni­cal sup­port and cus­tomer ser­vice if you don’t know how to share that infor­ma­tion. It’s dan­ger­ous to assume the cus­tomer has the same depth of knowl­edge or expe­ri­ence with the prod­uct or ser­vice that you do. For exam­ple, I don’t know all the pric­ing plans my phone com­pany has to offer or how the fea­ture pack­ages change from one plan to another. What I do know is that I’m always asked for a lot of information.

As con­sumers we’re pretty used to being asked “for your secu­rity” ques­tions. “For your secu­rity, I’ll need the last four dig­its of your social secu­rity num­ber.” Like well-programmed cus­tomers we usu­ally coop­er­ate in the inter­est of for­ward progress on the call. Just once, wouldn’t it be nice if a com­pany adopted a “give to get” phi­los­o­phy and offered us a “no strings attached, just because you’re our cus­tomer” free­bie piece of use­ful infor­ma­tion or advice?

With a back­ground in per­for­mance improve­ment and instruc­tional design, Mon­ica Postell works with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems in design­ing and deploy­ing train­ing and devel­op­ment pro­grams that fos­ter real cus­tomer loyalty.
4 Give to Get Better Customer Satisfaction
Mon­ica Postell
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