Hailstones and Customer Service

Peady’s Selling Engagement

I’m back after my annual break! Refreshed and ready to get down to the business of sales and selling success. My first post of the year looks at customer service or what poses as customer service. 

Just before Christmas our home and car were smashed by hailstones the size of cricket balls (in fact the storm badly damaged most of the suburb) as a result I’ve had to talk with two different insurance companies – one for my car the other for the house. I won’t name names, but the experience was only okay with one company and ‘ordinary’ for the other. Result? Unhappy customer.

So, what’s my insurance problem got to do with selling?

Well, ponder this. What is your company’s customer service like when things go wrong? You know, wrong material or a need to cancel a campaign due to a last-minute change or a disappointing ROI or incorrect invoicing etc. Do you or the other departments treat your customers poorly? Do they get met with excuses, vague or unmet ‘promises’, are they ignored, delayed or simply forgotten?

Yep customer complaints and problems are a challenge. But how they are dealt with either reinforces the relationship or damages it (and in some cases destroys it).
Sam Walton founder of US retail chain Walmart said this about customer service: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending, his money somewhere else

Exceeding customer expectations

It’s a competitive world out there, but it seems most companies take pleasure in telling customers what is NOT possible, because of their policies and giving some excuse for what cannotbe done. 

Every time you tell a customer what can’t be done, it drives them closer to the competition. Eventually they will jump. 
There’s no doubt that outstanding customer service is a powerful sales tool. These days you can’t meet customer’s expectations you need to exceed them. But how?
Some of these ideas are simple but quite effective.

  1. Respond immediately to customer questions or concerns. Not later, NOW!
  2. Do what you say, take action on the spot (few companies do this!)
  3. Empower team members to make decisions and then support those decisions
  4. Ensure senior management get involved and follow up with the customer
  5. Ask the customer if they are satisfied with what happened

Customer service isn’t just about dealing with problems and making promises. It’s certainly not based on slogans or vision statements either.

Real customer service starts at the start. Try exceeding the expectations of your customer from the first time you contact them and continue doing so throughout the sales process. 

Ultimately a happy customer is a repeat customer and repeat customers are “gold”.

Until next week good selling.

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]