L.A.S.T. Shall Finish First
I have a good friend who is known for saying, “Sales is not a linear process”. It’s great advice in marketing and in sales. You always want to “ebb and flow” with your prospect, their situation and their needs. It’s smart to make them the center of your process.
However, sometimes despite your best efforts in the marketing and sales process, circumstances go sideways and people get upset. It may be as a result of something you did, or something that happened in your community, or it may be something completely out of your control – but people can become irritated or downright mad. And you need to diffuse the situation politely and quickly. You don’t want to unintentionally escalate a situation with an already emotional prospect or resident.
Most people get stumped right here. How do you diffuse an angry resident or prospect without making the situation even worse? How much do you say in your defense?
If you’ve ever found yourself in a difficult predicament like this, you’ll want to keep reading because I got a great answer to those questions from my 17 year old son last week. My son, Andrew, recently got his first job at a well-respected fast food restaurant known for their polite staff. After his first day of training, he came home and shared a valuable life lesson that he learned.
He said, “Mom, I’ve learned something that I can use the rest of my life!”
When I asked, he explained that what he learned was called L.A.S.T. It is the ultimate Customer Service Manifesto.
When you encounter an unhappy customer, just remember L.A.S.T.
L – Listen. Listen to their complaint with genuine empathy.
A – Apologize. Apologize for their unhappiness – regardless of who or what created it.
S – Solve. Figure out what you need to do to Solve the problem or complaint.
T – Thank. Thank them for sharing their concern and bringing the issue to your attention. You can even thank them for their patience.
Using L.A.S.T. is a technique to turn a bad situation around so that you and your community can finish FIRST.
But how does L.A.S.T. look in real life?
Let’s say that you made a prospect angry by calling at a bad time and waking them from a nap. You can understand why they might be unhappy with you.
L.A.S.T. may look like this in that situation:
Listen while they tell you how frustrated they are that you woke them, and how badly they need to rest because they don’t sleep very well at night these days. Continue to listen while they further elaborate about how they can’t get any peace with all these people calling at all hours of the day and night. Nod your head and tell them you understand. Try not to interrupt and maintain eye contact to verify to them that you are genuinely listening.
Apologize for the inconvenience and disruption and let them know how sorry you are for your timing. Let them know that you, too, hate to be awakened from sleep. Ask for their forgiveness. Be genuine!
Solve the problem by telling them you won’t ever call between X and Y hours again. And make a note in your system with the times that they would prefer you call them in the future. Possibly go the second mile by offering them something. If you don’t know how you can solve the problem, politely ask them to suggest a way you can solve it.
And then thank them for their forgiveness and patience with your faux paux.
L.A.S.T. is a simple technique that works and is easy to remember and use. I’ve already given it a spin this week and it worked like magic. Often, an upset resident will come around to trust you even more, if you handle the problem properly and with respect.
When a person does bring up a problem, make sure they know that you care about the problem and that you want to fix it. Once corrected, these people can be your most loyal customers. By responding positively with L.A.S.T., you will cement already loyal customers into faithful, devoted customers. Being genuine assures the customer that you really do want to help their situation.
Give L.A.S.T. a try for yourself. I think you’ll find that by starting with L.A.S.T., you will finish FIRST more often than not.