I, like most, have childhood memories of begging for the shiny new toy we didn’t know we wanted until the moment we saw it. Usually, the toy had no way of living up to our boundless expectations—it broke, got lost, or worse, got boring.
As we grow up and accumulate enough of these disappointments, a jaded sense of hesitation materializes to loom over nearly every financial decision we make.
And that’s ok. Most of us need that impulse control to prevent us from spending way more than we’re capable of.
Repeatedly buying chew toys for your dog even though they’re destroyed within 48 hours? Hold back on that one.
Splurging on fast food at 1 in the morning because you’re hungry? Try a cheaper alternative.
Buying a super specific piece of workout equipment that you probably won’t use? Consider joining a gym instead. Every questionable purchase we make adds up, thickening our outer skin.
Some things that you buy will disappoint you—it’s inevitable. Selling anything requires the deconstruction of that fear of being disappointed in a product or service. Some businesses and people can demolish that wall in a second, with an image or a slogan; others take longer, having to remove one brick at a time until the obstacles are gone. But no matter what product someone looks at, that first look will be tinged with suspicion and doubt. Why are these promises any different from the others that have let me down in the past?
Regardless of how long it takes, the only way to help people get to where they need to be is with trust.
As a general estimate, more than 95% of people won’t be ready to buy anything on the first go-around (link later). Some will never buy anything—you need to accept these things without getting discouraged.
Here are the three most important factors to breaking down people’s fear of disappointment.
1. Always be honest:
If customers catch you in a lie, the relationship is ruined forever. In business, there are multiple factors here as well; you need to represent your product genuinely, you need to only make promises you know you can keep, and you need to have the foresight to lead people in the right direction if they don’t actually need your product.
There is no point in misrepresenting your product—people will figure things out quickly and you’ll be left with angry people (rightfully) demanding answers.
If you promise your product/service can do something, you need to ensure that it does.
Those factors are just on the sales side—for customer service, honesty counts too. Most people will be understanding that we’re all just doing our best to get by. If there’s a problem, explain why; don’t make excuses. Customers deserve to know the truth when it affects them.
2. Know that the customer is king:
Customer service will often be the sole decider in which customers you keep and which you lose. To make sure you’re providing the best customer service possible, you need to be both fast and helpful.
You have competition out there, likely a considerable amount, so if you take too long to respond to a call, comment, tweet, etc., that customer will go somewhere that will help them quickly. Failing to be accessible makes you look unorganized.
Helping out customers should bring them value. It shouldn’t matter when they contact you either. That means your company needs a brand and a culture that every employee buys into, so each one delivers consistently great customer experiences.
Your customers are how you put food on your plate, so treat them like it.
3. Know yourself and your product:
The connection your business has to your target market, and the world itself, stems from how realized your company is. This means having a firm grasp on its capabilities, beliefs, and image.
The promises and claims you make, the way you train your staff, the changes you make to your product, all of that is the result of introspection. It’s ok to admit that your company can’t do something, or that you need to adjust your product, or that you won’t fulfill a customer request on moral grounds (white supremacy is not ok!).
The confidence that comes from that knowledge will free you from the need to simple appease customers. Your customer service should revolve entirely around your company’s image, not some stock image of what customer service should look like.
Basics like professionalism and respect extend to any sphere, but the tone, personality, and specifics of how you interact with customers should be cultivated from the knowledge you have about yourself and your business. Otherwise you’re just mimicking a more successful company and hoping things work out.
You have to show people why they’ll never think twice about your product or service. It may take time, but building trust with a customer is the best thing you can do.
Always remember that, even when they don’t buy anything.