Brian McLane

Media and Social Commentary

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CUSTOMER SERVICE

April 25th, 2012 · No Comments · Business

My friend Madeline has a son that can be a handful.

One day when I called he was having a meltdown and nothing she did worked. I told her to tell him that if he didn’t calm down, she was going to put him on with “Customer Service.”

He wanted no part of that and went quietly away.

Here’s another anecdote.

I was recently in a doctor’s office on a sales call and saw the following sign:

1. THE BOSS IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
2. If the Boss is Wrong, See Number 1.

When it comes to Customer Service, the same adage applies. The Customer is Always right and if the Customer is wrong, “Give them Supreme Customer Service.” If a company messes up, or is dysfunctional, has personnel issues or other problems, never, under any circumstances make the customer pay for it or leave them holding the proverbial bag.

In this competitive sales environment, there should be no question as to how important a customer is. Sales People who think only in terms of the near future, go for the quick sale and disappear, or short change the customer on products and/or services promised will hop from job to job and eventually be exposed. Especially in a world where emails, text messages, screen-shots, comment threads, blogs (like this one), and ratings and reviews exist so as to leave a forensic, digital footprint about one’s activities. If a sales person, or company for that matter truly cares about providing good customer service, the evidence (or lack of) will serve to support or expose a salesperson’s efforts in this area.

After making a sale, we as sales people want to send our prospects off feeling excited enough to tell others that they’ve done business with us and refer us and the companies we represent to others. This is true whether one is purchasing life insurance, advertising, catering services what have you. After the sale, following up with excellent customer service is imperative (even at the expense of making more sales) because I would propose that keeping a customer (because a sales rep has followed up with excellent customer service), and gaining their repeat business (reducing churn) is more important in terms of methodically building a book of business. This would be in stark contrast to having lots of customers who are not happy and feel they’ve been taken advantage of.

There is a concept called Customer Lifetime Value and there are too many businesses whose services do not meet customer expectations, are unresponsive or slow to respond to customer queries, whose salespeople disappear shortly after obtaining a signature, provide awful if any customer service and also using predatory billing methods to keep customers.

I recently read in BusinessInsider.com about Groupon. Here is a quote from Dylan Collins’ blog: “Only 1% of Groupon customers become long-term merchant customers.”

OUCH!

I find this interesting because recently I was in a comedy club where the owner was meeting with Groupon and told the rep that it wasn’t working out and in a Pizzeria where the Owner was giving Groupon “a second chance.” Both were dissatisfied. The rap on Groupon is that the service brings in new customers but there is little if any profit. Groupon takes a piece, then you have your cost and what’s left isn’t enough to make a business owner happy. If a sales rep isn’t providing excellent customer service and helping the customer tweak and optimize their program, they’re done. Same goes for other advertising mediums.

Word gets out you see. It is too easy to type in a few keywords and get the scoop about a business – like Groupon. If people are really excited about a business it will show up on Search Engine Results Pages. Usually all one has to do is add the word “scam” and look out.

Any good salesperson can sell anything to anyone once. Some salespeople are in the precarious position of having to sell something that either sucks, or that they personally do not understand or believe in. There is a sales axiom which holds that most services are the same and that “the customer is buying YOU.” I may take issue with the first part of that statement but the second half is 100 percent true, and the reason is customer service. Sales reps can and often do say anything to get the sale however there will come a time when they have to back it up.

To this end it is important not to over-promise, know your products and services well, and be available. When one of my customers calls me I ALWAYS pick up the phone and take their call. That’s customer service. Good, bad or ugly, if a salesperson meets the challenge head on and in earnest, 90 percent of the time they will have a favorable impression of us whether or not that are satisfied with their purchase. This is important because all of the customers in one’s book of business may be customers and do business with us in the future.

Lastly I go above and beyond for my customers. Every single customer in my book is a good person and runs a reputable business. I make referrals on their behalf, help them with their social media strategy as I am expert in such matters, and in general am available to them as a resource seven days a week.

That’s called going the extra mile.

In the end, providing good customer service by being available, honest, proactive and following up will be in and of itself a reward for us as salespeople and the glue that holds the relationship between company and customer together.

Here’s a link to a funny video about the cold call that gets the whole thing started when doing outside sales. Click the guy with the contract to view.

customer service

Click for funny cold call video

#Customer Service – so true check out http://www.brianmclane.com/?p=3542 plus there’s a really funny video at the end with a guy making a cold call

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