A guy walks into a shop that sells ties. He has opened the conversation by walking in.
Salesman says, “can I help you?”
The conversation is now closed. The guy can politely say, “no thanks, just looking.”
Consider the alternative:
“That’s a [insert adjective here] tie you are wearing, sir. Where did you buy it?” Asks the salesman.
Conversation is now open.
Attention has been paid, a rapport can be built. They can talk about ties. And good taste.
Or consider a customer at a fancy restaurant. He was served an old piece of fish, something hardly worth the place’s reputation. On the way out, he says to the chef,
“It must be hard to get great fish on Mondays. I’m afraid the filet I was served was not fresh.”
If the chef says, “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your meal…” then the conversation is over. The customer has been rejected, his feedback considered whining and a matter of personal perspective.
What if the chef said instead, “what kind of fish was it?” What if the chef invited the patron back into the kitchen to take a look at the process and was asked for feedback?
Open conversations generate loyalty, sales and most of all, learning… for both sides.
Open conversations go beyond “can I help you.” They show keen interest on the customer, they talk to the customer’s soul not just needs.