Getting customer service right

Service Teams are your indirect Sales Force

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently." --Warren Buffett

Service teams are your employees that have any touch point with the customer; for example, customer service agents, engineers, consultants. These employees are responsible for the “crown jewels” of every business – brand reputation – and can build or damage that every day. 

They also have an opportunity to be your indirect sales force AND give great customer service at the same time. But we’ll come on to that…

Recent Independent Market Research discovered that 95% of people said they tell at least one other person about a bad customer service experience, whilst 54% said they would share with at least 5 other people. The internet makes it so quick for customers to write negative reviews, with many taking to social media to vent their frustrations, not only to their friends and family but for the entire world to see!

The same study found that 88% of respondents have been influenced by an online review when making a buying decision. Customers are certainly reading reviews and searching for discussions about brands before purchasing.

This results in an overall decrease in sales but more importantly a decrease in word of mouth marketing – which is arguably the most valuable marketing tool a brand or company has! 

Companies work so hard to attract new customers, then lose them too easily

Bad customer service also kills leads. Although the term customer service usually refers to current customers, interactions with prospective customers and leads also falls under this term.

Let me share a personal story, “The Fence, the Blinds and the Kuga” 

The Fence

We needed a fence for our garden, found a great guy and booked him to come out to us; I made sure I was free and at home on the set date, happy days. The night before he phoned; his van had broken down and instead of coming to do our fence, he would need to take his van to the garage to be fixed, he would know more once it was at the garage and would give us a call to rearrange. Fair enough, these things do happen, at least he let us know. 

Did I get a call back? Nope. Nothing. In fact, he didn’t ring us until after a week had passed. In the meantime, we had decided to just do it ourselves. 

The Blinds

Next was made to measure blinds.  I wanted an actual human being to come and measure and so I rung a company from a recommendation; I was excited to support a local business. I phoned up and the person I needed was on another call, so my details were taken, and they said they would call me right back. 

Nope. No call back. Sigh! So, onto the internet I went and ordered within minutes. I’m a busy lady who wants to smash through a list of jobs! 

The (Ford) Kuga

The car was next. I arranged for some work with a mobile company who come to your house, paid in advance and was given a time slot of the work to be done: 3.30pm-7.45pm. Brilliant!! We wait in. And keep waiting. 6.30pm and the phone rings and annoyingly they cancel because their ‘van has broken down’. 

Legit? Maybe. But it’s a Saturday and the sun is shining so I can’t help but have my suspicions. Oh, and they couldn’t come back out for another 2 days. So, I became fearless and said no thank you and asked for a refund. Go me! 

These 3 companies combined have lost £3000+ from just me. Surely that’s going to hurt at some point? If they continue with these types of behaviours then yes, it has to hurt. 

Perhaps if these companies had all been honest with me in the first place (presuming they were too busy and were being people pleasers) then they may still have had a customer in me. Instead (in my customer opinion and that is what counts), they went for short term greed over long term customer. 

Bad customer service is a downward spiral that will eventually hurt the bottom line. Not only can it result in loss of current customers, but also new customers and therefore a loss of revenue. This can create a vicious cycle whereby a company cuts back on customer service training or staffing which leads to customer service spiralling further down.

We run a “Power to Suggest” workshop for your indirect sales team – people that have a touch point with the customer but who “aren’t part of the sales team”! These teams have the opportunity – through gentle suggestion and positive engagement – to sell and upsell as a part of giving great customer service. 

Great customer service upfront leads to a great first impression and gets prospective customers excited about using your company!

“A brand is what a business does, reputation is what people remember.” – Ted Rubin 

Does your company have even one unhappy customer? 

What can you learn from that? Is it your people, your product or service or your processes? Let me know your thoughts

Article by Lucy Gooderham Lucy Gooderham

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