A small business owner who knows he is bad with people deliberately hires outgoing, bubbly people to staff his office. By the time clients reach him, they've already dealt with two or three warm, caring staff members and his more abrasive personality doesn't seem so bad. He still loses a few customers, but without an office staffed with employees with excellent people skills, he wouldn't be able to keep his business. This smart, but introverted, entrepreneur has learned something that is essential for small business success. People skills are a must.
Why Good People Skills Are Important
Many customers expect to be treated with dignity and respect. They expect to feel valued. They expect to be cared about. If they don't get what they want, they'll go elsewhere until they find it. Other customers may not feel that they deserve to have someone greet them with a few kind words, but getting that warm, personal greeting may turn them from occasional visitors to loyal, repeat customers.
Developing People Skills
It may seem impossible for an introverted, almost unfriendly person to turn into someone that customers love to see. However, it can be done. With a bit of determination and perseverance, any business owner can learn to develop better people skills. Here are several simple steps that can help someone seem warmer and friendlier to potential customers:
- Make eye contact with each customer.
- Say something. “How are you today?” “Good morning.” “Lovely weather, isn't it?”
- If the customer answers, really listen to the reply and respond appropriately.
Another thing that make a business owner seem more approachable and welcoming is simply stepping out from behind a counter or desk to hand a customer his or her bag or to show the way to a specific product. Of course, the register should never be left unattended, so this is not always a feasible option.
Great Customer Service and People Skills Go Together
Of course, someone with exceptional people skills must offer great customer service, too. Customers who are greeted warmly and then cannot get the business owner to stop chatting with an employee to give them a hand will be more upset than customers who weren't given a sincere greeting but were able to quickly pay for the merchandise they wanted.
While someone who isn't a natural people person may not ever seem as outgoing and warm as a natural extrovert, he or she can develop a few techniques to help customers feel welcomed and wanted. Smiling and saying, “Hi! How are you,” can sometimes mean the difference between a sale and no sale at all.