As a customer I am often frustrated when someone either over or under-supervises me and I get told stuff I already know, or can’t seem to get the information I actually need. Might this be happening with your customers?
I want to quickly demonstrate the use of Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® II model to showcase a way to look at your customers with new eyes. Not only will you save time with this approach, you will also give customers exactly what they need to succeed with your product and thus develop greater respect, memories of care, and referrals.
By teaching customers how to rapidly gain competence with your product they can more quickly feel like champions as they share their brilliance with you and others.
How this works
To begin with, think of something you sell that people are excited to have, but initially don’t know how to use. This first stage of learning we call an Enthusiastic Beginner. What do they need at this stage? They need direction—very specific guidelines, examples, and to be taught and shown how to use the product.
Like any learning curve, there is a next stage. Disillusioned Learner is when the task becomes a bit more difficult and frustrating. Discouragement often sets in when customers find doing the task is much more difficult alone than when they were with you. Now, they need encouragement, a reminder of why what they are doing is important and how to fine tune their abilities so as to mediate their concerns and ratchet up success.
Soon, they will be Capable, but Cautious Performers, who are using their new products, but cautiously and probably with less speed than someone who has been using it for years. They need to practice, share their thoughts, and hear their ideas, to be able to talk with you about what they are doing well and what they would like to do better. Since they are capable at this time, they really need air time to build their confidence in their competence.
With care, customers progress to a final development level as Self-Reliant Achievers. At this level they are highly competent and highly committed. This is your opportunity to really engender customer devotion by weaving their genius into the mix and having them participate on expert teams. By asking them to teach others and share ideas you are really helping them to feel smart and recognize their brilliance.
Develop your customers
Situationally developing your customers is a great way to expand your use of the Situational Leadership® II model. In the same way that it works for developing employees it can help you set up customers for rapid success and long term relationships where people feel valued, cared for and positioned to shine.
About the author:
Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program. Their customer service focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.