by Debra J. Schmidt – used with permission
If I ask you right now whether or not you are in sales, chances are you would say, “No, I’m in accounts payable or customer service or marketing.” You might even say, “I’m the CEO.”
No matter what your job is, you are in sales. Every time you interact with a customer, you are selling your professional credibility, the company’s products or services, and the company’s image. So, even if you don’t work in the sales department, read on.
When a customer has a bad experience in shipping, in accounting, in technical support or any other department in your company, you can bet that negative word-of-mouth will follow. That word of mouth reduces sales in the same way that customer testimonials increase referrals and sales. You are selling all the time, so it’s important for you to recognize what your customers want from you.
Regardless of who your customers are, there are 5 key actions they want from you:
1. To have you spend more time listening than talking
Who do you find more interesting to talk with; the person who rattles on and on sharing their wealth of knowledge, or the person who asks you about yourself and then listens to your response? Your customers do not call in order to be impressed. They call because they have a need or a problem and believe your company can offer the solution. But before they decide to do business with your company, they are going to decide if they like you and can trust you. Asking your customers intelligent questions and, then, actively listening to their responses is the best way to build trust and get at the heart of what your customer really needs.
2. To have things explained in a way they can understand
So often, people sell confusion rather than solutions to customers. In today’s high tech world, many products and services on the market are quite complex. I don’t know about you, but I’m technically challenged. So when I contact technical support to get help with my computers or phone system or software, I want to talk to support reps who can clearly communicate the solutions. Your customers don’t want to be insulted by listening to jargon and acronyms that are meaningless to anyone who doesn’t work in that industry. They also don’t want to deal with a condescending employee who sounds exasperated because they’re not catching on.
3. To deal with nice people It’s like a breath of fresh air when your customer is greeted by a friendly voice answering the telephone or a smile as he or she walks through the door
Remember that your customers are most likely bumping into negativity everywhere they go. They deal with traffic jams, long lines in stores, frustrations at work, stress at home and more. When they pick up the phone to call your company, they want to talk to a “nice” person. They need to believe that you are someone who genuinely cares about their concerns. They want you to sound warm and friendly. They want you to treat them like an old friend.
4. To have their time valued . . . not wasted
Your customers are juggling their schedules to make time to contact your company. If they feel their time has been wasted, they are far less likely to return. Classic time-wasters are placing customers on hold, transferring their calls to other departments, not getting their requests right the first time and not dealing with knowledgeable employees who are empowered to make decisions. Take a look at how you’re handling your customers’ calls and identify the situations that waste a customer’s time and eliminate those.
5. To be offered solutions
Your customers wouldn’t call if they didn’t need what your company has to offer. Once they get through, they want to know that you have the resources and the willingness to do everything you can to deliver what they need. This will often mean that you need to go the extra mile to explore a variety of solutions for them. Or, you will need to help them build a relationship with a co-worker who has more expertise than you in a given situation. In other words, don’t cut your customers short with responses like, “I don’t know,” or “We don’t do that in this department.” Instead, commit yourself to being a possibility thinker for your customers.
You are impacting your company’s sales, every time you talk with a customer. Your goal should be to want your customer to leave with a strong positive feeling about you and the company. You can help your customers feel comfortable with the decision to buy by reinforcing their decision. Show enthusiasm for your products or services and sincerely thank your customers for choosing your company. Above all, communicate to your customers that everyone in the company is part of one big team whose goal it is to make them happy.
Debra J. Schmidt is known as the Loyalty Leader®. She is an author, consultant, trainer and professional speaker who helps companies boost profits by leading the way to greater customer and employee loyalty. Subscribe to her free online newsletter at: www.LoyaltyLeader.com.