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100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

Quality Insider

Wait for It… Wait for It… Swing!

Patience and timing are critical for baseball and customer service

Published: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 06:00

“Good things come to those who wait!” When you show patience in making decisions, you make better, more informed decisions. In customer service, your ability to search out the right opportunity can make all the difference in the world.

In sports competition, it’s all about timing. On the gridiron, seasoned quarterbacks know the advantages of being patient in the pocket. This allows them to study the weaknesses in their opponent’s defense and connect at just the right moment. Marathon runners and bicyclists periodically conserve their energy and then surge at different intervals so as to time their success. In baseball, batting coaches train players to observe each pitch intently and patiently await the perfect opportunity to swing.

Customer satisfaction is built on the same principle. The goal is to connect with your customers effectively at precisely the right moment. It is simply not enough to show up, smile, and win over a customer. You must earn their trust, respect, and confidence. You can accomplish this through the use of proven techniques and precise timing.

Patience and timing in our society are underrated. They are time-honored traditions, just as practical in stock-trading on Wall Street as they are in planning a vacation. They are important parts of winning wars and negotiating treaties. We have seen how the timing of emergency responders has saved lives, and how the patience of waiting out a storm has prevented catastrophes. Even history reminds us “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Patience and timing are just as important in customer interactions. There is a time to approach, a time to assist, and a time to step back. There is a time to be informative, and a time to let the customer speak. The ability to sense these moments is instrumental for delivering great customer service.

A baseball player doesn’t just step up the plate and hit the ball. It might look that easy, but hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports. Many different pitches may come his way. So much depends on other factors, as well. The pitcher, the score, the following batter, the count (balls and strikes), the batter’s record (runs, hits, ability to steal bases), the batter’s stance (right or left handed) are all important factors for the batter and coach to think about before the pitch is ever thrown.

In baseball, they call it the strike zone. The pitcher tries to get the batter to “swing and miss” at pitches that are thrown in or near the strike zone. Batting coaches have conditioned their players to “wait for it... wait for it... swing!” They encourage players to wait for that perfect opportunity to connect with the ball. It’s a strategy that has many similarities to the sales process.

Customers are searching for perfect products and services. They are looking for a fair price, helpful people to assist them, and a reputable company to do business with. Businesses are looking to attract these customers and connect with them in the hopes of making satisfied returning customers. Each wants to achieve their objective. The only difference is that baseball is a competition. Since there is no competition between you and your customer, the only challenge is to make each party feel comfortable with each other.

In baseball, each pitch that comes over the plate represents an opportunity for the batter to “hit it out of the park.” In business, each encounter represents another opportunity to have a satisfied customer.

When a customer is before you, practice the “wait for it” philosophy. Seek the perfect opportunity to offer the first greeting and assistance. Follow up when it is appropriate, and try to pick up the signs a customer might be giving you. Sometimes customers need some alone-time to think. At other times, they might need more information.

Customers don’t like to be crowded, and sometimes they don’t know what questions to ask. Know when to lead, know when to follow, and know when to get out of the way. If you practice this approach with each customer, you will develop a natural rhythm that feels comfortable for both of you.


About The Author

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams’s picture

100 Customer Service Tips by Larry Williams

For more than 20 years, Larry Williams has been a respected public speaker, journalist, and business entrepreneur. He is recognized and awarded for his business professionalism, community service, and national involvement in a very high-profile child abduction case. Through his leadership, educational offerings, and public speaking, Larry Williams has set a standard for customer service that is recognized and emulated regionally and nationally; and he “tells it like it is” in his book, Customer Service A to Z.