Customer Experience News & Trends

Is your sales team guilty of these customer relationship killers?

Once customers begin to use a product or service, they’re going to be anxious to see positive results. They may also have challenges and problems, and if they have nowhere to turn to get answers, because their salesperson is busy closing other deals, it leaves a bad impression. 

Relationship killers

Ask yourself if your salespeople are guilty of one or more of the following mistakes that destroy long-term relationships:

  1. They’re focused on getting the next sale. Once they’ve made the sale, they’re on to the next one with no time to turn around and make sure the customer is maximizing the investment.
  2. They’re afraid to hear the results. What if they do a follow-up meeting and the customer is upset because problems have developed? It’s easier for them to just keep quiet and hope for the best.
  3. They’re not really sure how to help the customer maximize the purchase. They know a lot about the features and benefits of a product or service, but very little on the various ways this product should be used to solve problems for customers.
  4. They forget that no product or service is excellent in and of itself. It’s excellent only if it fulfills a customer’s need. Needs change and that’s why an effective after-sale approach is essential.

Training tip: Ask your sales team to cite instances when a new customer failed to become a repeat customer. Look for specific reasons why the relationship failed.

Scheduling ‘check-ups’

It’s always a good idea to schedule “check-ups” after delivery is made. These meetings can be formal or informal, and can take place face-to-face or over the phone. Not only are these post-sale steps effective for providing service after the sale, they should be talked about in the pre-sale stages to help in the closing.

Scheduling “post-buy meetings” before the closing sends a clear signal to prospects that you’re not going to run away and that a “partnership” is actually beginning. You will separate yourself from the competition by developing better strategies and processes for the after-sale process.

Develop a post-sale check-up meeting

Even when you sell a product or service that is basically complete at the point of closing, you can still come up with a post-closing check-up meeting. It’s the best way to make sure the customer is happy with the product and to get feedback on ways you could improve if.

Ask yourself, “What would I do if I bought my own product or service to make sure it worked at a maximized level after I purchased it?” Then put together tools, information, meetings and personal involvement tactics to help the customer do the same thing.

Customer service is changing

A new definition of customer service is emerging, one that goes beyond doing it right the first time, providing communication excellence, on-time deliveries, and being responsive to individual customer requirements.

Effective customer service today is equated to knowledge, information and expertise. Here are four important implications in this “knowledge is service” concept:

  1. Price may attract customers, but information sustains relationships. Price alone doesn’t hold customers or keep them coming back. When they need more than just the product or service, they’ll go where they can to obtain helpful information.
  2. Doing it right may please customers, but helping them achieve their goals keeps them loyal. Efficient, helpful, rapid service is expected from salespeople. Value comes from making a continuing contribution to customer success.
  3. Being on the cutting edge is important, but being viewed as a valuable resource produces long-term confidence. The major challenge for salespeople today is to have customers and prospects wanting to do business with them because their knowledge is valued.

Effective after-sales service

Effective after-sales service is not a slogan, advertising program, a button that everyone wears, or a banner touting a “we care” attitude. It’s a mindset or attitude that good salespeople develop to improve customer satisfaction and retention.

An effective follow-up can be a telephone call, fax, email, letter, hand-written note, personal visit or any combination of these.

Here are 8 laws of effective after-sales service:

  1. The customer is not always right. The goal is not to discredit, embarrass, belittle or challenge them in a destructive way. It’s usually better to discover the source or cause of their incorrect perceptions, beliefs or attitudes.
  2. The customer is never completely wrong. There’s usually some element of their perception that is a true reflection of reality. Customers can be informative if we keep an open mind and are receptive to what’s being said. They can help pinpoint distribution or sales methods that need improvement.
  3. The customer deserves your best, regardless of the time of day, day of the week or month of the year. The fact that you worked late last night making an emergency delivery shouldn’t become the customer’s problem. These circumstances and thousands of others like them, if they become the customer’s problem, may cause him or her to switch to a competitor.
  4. The buck should never be passed. Whoever hears about a problem owns the problem. Try to avoid being defensive or upset when a customer brings you a concern or complaint. Accept the fact that the problem exists, and help get it solved.
  5. You should never be too busy for your customers or make it difficult for them to do business with you. How many times have you as a customer gotten the feeling that you’re an interruption to another salesperson’s day or workload? Try not to treat customers this way.
  6. Say what you will do and do what you say you will. Follow through, keep your promises, honor your commitments, and keep your customer informed of your progress. Customers tend to be more understanding, patient and tolerant if you communicate with them with integrity and in a timely manner.
  7. Be interested, care and act like you’re glad the customer is doing business with you. People like doing business with people who appreciate their business. They are usually willing to give more of their business to salespeople who are accommodating and interested. You show you care by having up-to-date product knowledge and trying to answer all questions the customer may have.
  8. Think ahead of the customer with a problem-solving attitude. To prosper and build repeat business, salespeople should try to anticipate customer needs and problems.

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