You would think that working in support at a Software Development Company may well be technical, geeky and rather staid sort of work. Nothing could possibly be further from the truth. Mostly Development work starts because of a tentative approach from the client and if you are going to support his expectations for where he wishes his company to go, then you need to Get Involved! The more involved you get then the more meaningful and longer association you are likely to have with the client. Over a longer period of time opportunities to work with the client will emerge.
This isn’t as easy as it might first appear, your client has devoted a lot of time, effort and money in setting up the company and naturally doesn’t want to share too much information with a complete stranger. Rule number one is establishing trust. To do this you will need to build some sort of rapport with your customer. This can be a slow process AND ANYWAY you do not want your client ever to feel ever that they are being rushed you need them to know you have time FOR THEM.
So it is going to be ‘tread very softly softly’ at first. How do you get involved if it’s a very soft approach?
LISTEN very hard. If you are a good listener, you attain more in a shorter length of time because you get the accurate information to begin with. You lower the margin of error because you are focused on what the customer is saying instead of what you are going to be saying next. When you listen well, the conversation stays on track and even more beneficial [if that were indeed possible] the customer likes you more. You are building rapport with customers based on sincere interest and caring. As mentioned before the client will be a bit cautious to tell you about his business until you have established this rapport. You will encourage the client to speak more if you LISTEN and DEMONSTRATE that you are listening.
DEMONSTRATING LISTENING is achieved by.
If you are on the phone to a client
Establish the name / title of the client / representative that you are speaking to and use it.
Take notes whilst you are on the telephone to them so that you NEVER have to ask the client the same thing twice.
Try to smile when you are speaking when on the phone, somehow this alters the quality of your voice and the person at the other end seems to know that you are smiling [I am not quite sure how this one works but try it because it does!
Ask question relevant to the subject you are discussing NEVER a question that it has just occurred to you to ask. If you do this the client will know you haven’t been listening to one word they have said because you were thinking of something unrelated
Try NOT to use too many closed questions, YES or NO takes no time but we are information gathering and encouraging the client to talk, so start your questions with the time honoured How, Where, Why, When, Where, Who words
If this is a face to face meeting then [all the appropriate ones above plus]
Nod or shake your head in agreement appropriately.
Use “uh-huh” or similar for the same reason as above.
Make sure you are in a location with limited noise / interruptions.
Use short agreement encouragement phrases like ‘That’s interesting’, ‘I like that – tell me more’.
Take short notes – say “I will make a note of that” – shows that you are interested
Remember the company is trying to establish rapport so let and stimulate the client to speak. Do all the above and additionally ‘Try not to interrupt the flow’.