Customer Service

How important is service to the bottom line?

Well, how important are customers to your business? Could you manage to survive without customers? I don’t think so. Customers are like gold dust and if you want your business to grow you must be customer driven. Most service is mediocre at best. Very few companies seem to realize the advantages of delivering a consistently excellent service. To their cost. Customers are people and people all over the world want the same thing

  • To be treated with respect
  • To feel important and valued
  • To enjoy the buying experience

Excellent service engenders loyalty, referrals and higher spending customers. When will companies learn that by not committing to excellence they are throwing money down the drain?

Great service actually impacts on staff (who are the internal customers) too and this also adds to the bottom line: staff morale and retention is higher and the work environment is more enjoyable. A commitment to developing a customer service ethos pays dividends in increased revenue, referrals, loyalty and goodwill – so think very carefully about introducing a customer service programme for your business. And get your customers onside…before someone else does.

What most annoys customers?

There are three things that most annoy customers
1. Being kept waiting
2. Being ignored
3. Receiving shoddy goods/services

Amazingly, even during this recession, you can witness one or more of these behaviours every day of the week in restaurants, shops, supermarkets, surgeries , petrol stations and banks right across the country. Some customers will vote with their feet. Others will put up with poor service because of convenience but once an alternative arises, they too will walk. Some good advice, “Don’t annoy your customers”

Our customer service is very much hit and miss - to get our service absolutely right where do we begin?

Customer service is only as good as it is consistent. So everyone needs to buy in. Service must be exceptional across every department, every shift, all day, every day. With every transaction, every customer. There is no point in being excellent 80% of the time – 20% of your customers will not be impressed. Here are a few pointers to get started:

  1. Make a personal commitment to excellence and list the benefits. Check through every customer contact point in your company and note current norms, attitudes and behaviours. Where are the gaps, flaws and choke points?
  2. Listen to your staff. Listen to your customers. Set new standards in collaboration with staff. Make those standards measurable and tangible
  3. Get your team on board. Everyone – not just frontline staff – needs to buy in so that excellence is seamless across the organisation. Get your people trained up, engaged and excited. They need to learn that their efforts and talents will be recognised and reinforced. Everyone matters.
  4. Keep measuring. Service is a process so it’s about continuous improvement. Keep listening – use feedback channels. Support the gate keepers (staff) by on- going training and motivation. Reward excellence. Appreciate staff. Praise where due. Celebrate the results.

Sales

What are the two biggest mistakes sales people make?

By far the biggest mistake people make is not realising the value of preparation. Sales people need to do their homework before they even pick up a phone. They need to know what strategy to use in order to get to talk to the decision maker; how to secure the appointment; what information will be needed about the industry, the company, the customer, the competition and the market place into which they are selling. The sales person needs to look immaculate, be courteous and ready to overcome any number of objections. Preparation inspires confidence – if they can prepare well their sales prospecting and presentations will be much more successful and productive.

The second mistake salespeople make is that they talk too much. No one wants to hear you drone on and on about your product/services. When you go to your GP do you want to know where she got her medical degree or do you want her to sort out your health concern? You need to listen carefully to the customer by asking good questions which elicit valuable insights into his mindset, history, trends etc. Listening will allow you to determine the best possible solution for his needs. Listen 75% / talk 25% and your sales will dramatically improve.

How do I get my salespeople to call more prospects?

Getting out there and finding new prospects is often an area that many salespeople don’t enjoy but it is essential to fill your sales pipeline – you can’t grow the business unless you find new people to sell to

  1. Encourage them to build an ‘hour of power’ into their morning, where they might call 20, 30 or 40 prospects in quick succession
  2. Every ‘no’ is a step closer to a ‘yes’. Every ‘yes’ is another appointment, another opportunity to meet and impress and gain a new customer
  3. Ensure they are prepared so when they make a call they are ready for any type of response
  4. Their tone needs to be enthusiastic, energetic, courteous and polite. Customers are turned off by a tone that is fearful, timid, apologetic, demoralised or negative. Customers buy into the tone of voice even more than what the salesperson says
  5. Encourage them to enjoy a cup of coffee or a treat after they have completed their ‘hour of power’ – it’s their reward to themselves for being focused, disciplined and determined

The inability to develop new prospects is one of the main reasons why people fail in sales, so get your people to develop a daily prospecting habit. Practice makes perfect.

My sales people seem to be genuinely very busy but they’re not making their targets, what’s wrong?

The trouble with technology (despite its valuable attributes) is that it can very easily fool sales people into thinking they are busy – reading and sending emails, research on the net, voicemail, writing proposals, checking documents, discussing the recession and ‘how bad things are out there’ coffee breaks, copying, printing…it’s all in a day’s work. But it is important to remember that you can be a ‘busy fool’.

As a sales person, your job is to sell. To sell, you must sit eye to eye in front of the customer and listen, talk and close the sale. That’s your job and everything else is secondary and supports that basic function. If you are not talking to customers who will spend with you, you are not a salesperson. An excellent administrator perhaps but that is not your role. Sales people need to prioritise their time ruthlessly, and their priority is to engage with prospects and customers. CCT –or customer contact time should be top of the agenda and you need to measure that. Once CCT increases dramatically, sales revenues will rise accordingly.

I was at a sales seminar recently where the presenter said it was possible to double our sales if we really wanted to. Is this realistic?

It depends on the service/product you are selling, how good a salesperson you are, how good the company you work for is, etc. And the time frame – was he suggesting it would take one year, three years or longer? If we say we want to double our sales in a year, the short answer is, yes, it is possible.

To double your sales what you need to do is double the results you’re getting with your funnel:

  • Double your traffic (see 24 instead of 12 customers per week and double your sales) or
  • Double your closing strike rate (if you see 12 customer per week and you close 4, aim to close 8) or
  • Double your current customers’ annual spend (ask for more business)

At first glance, doubling any of these can seem impossible – but it doesn’t have to be. If you have 100 customers spending €5k p.a. your revenue is €500,000. If you could persuade 50 of those to increase their budget to €8k p.a. ; another 50 to introduce you to one new customer like them; and target just one brand new customer per month who would spend €8k p.a. – you will double your revenue to €1m. Hard work. But infinitely possible. And remember, when you double your revenue you double your value to your company, your confidence also doubles and you are financially in a doubly strong position.

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