Customer Experience News & Trends

Salespeople can use customer service to gain a competitive edge: Here’s how

Salespeople who focus on customer service build an environment that makes it easier to sell. The ability to deliver consistently spectacular service faster, better and cheaper than your competitors can differentiate your product.

Develop a ‘service attitude’

Since there’s no right or wrong personality to have when it comes to developing a “service attitude,” every salesperson can learn to relate to customers on a personal level. Some salespeople are customer service naturals. They devote their full attention to each customer and offer help without being asked. They are energetic, perceptive and empathetic.

These critical qualities have little to do with a salesperson’s technical ability to provide great service, although it can give them a leg up when it comes to how to treat prospects and customers.

Make customer service a separate product

Customer service is the first thing customers and prospects notice in any salesperson. Unique service can make any salesperson different and distinguished, regardless of size, budget, location or industry.

What defines exceptional customer service? Who are the salespeople who make it happen?

To deliver great service, salespeople think of it as a separate and distinct product. They start thinking about service from the customer’s perspective. How were they treated? What did they expect, and were their expectations met?

To remain focused on the goal of delivering truly outrageous customer service, they ask themselves: “How would I treat my most profitable customer?” Then they apply the answer to all of their customers and prospects.

POS Service

Giving a customer “positively outrageous service” (POS) creates a halo effect for your product or service. The customer feels encouraged and wants to reciprocate.

This reciprocity may include the most powerful marketing medium of all: word-of-mouth.

Take customers from satisfied to loyal

A satisfied customer is someone who has had a pleasant experience. A loyal customer is someone who has a relationship with you, values it and resists change.

Loyal customers buy more than satisfied customers. The flip side, loyal customers demand more service. They notice small things, such as waiting too long for service or not being acknowledged — and get upset when those things happen.

Here are some tips to help you satisfy a loyal customer’s complaints:

  1. Agree with the customer. When customers are angry, agree with them and share your concern about their problems. This is very different from being angry with the customer. If you agree with the customer, it’s almost impossible for the customer to be angry with you. Agreeing doesn’t mean that you’re accepting blame for the situation. It simply sets a better tone for resolving the complaint.
  2. Ask for the customer’s input on a solution. Simply asking, “What will make you happy?” is a good way to solve a problem. This straightforward question can establish a common ground for finding a reasonable solution.
  3. Take responsibility. You can solve the problem, learn something and help your customer all in one process if you take charge. Customers usually ask for less once you offer to help. Once they have a complaint resolved, customers usually move toward the loyalty end of the scale.

Adapted from: When Customers Talk, by T. Scott Gross, a consumer advocate whose client roster includes many Fortune 500 companies.

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