Achieving Sales Excellence (Part 2)
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Achieving Sales Excellence (Part 2)

  George R. Khayat | Partner

  14th May, 2019

Developing a Customer Centric Culture

Most companies think they are customer-oriented. After all, don't companies hire nice people, and provide them some training? Don't these same companies intend to do their best by supplying good products, installing hotline numbers, and generally fixing problems that customers complain about?

So what's the problem?

It is sad to notice that companies generally do not pro-actively think about the customer until he complains. And the truth is most customers don't complain they vote with their feet by going elsewhere.

You might be surprised to find that:

  • 64% of customers feel companies with which they frequently interface by telephone are not respectful of their time
  • 70% of customers will change suppliers due to poor service - today's competitive environment makes this choice easier.
  • It takes between 2-4 times the cost to find a new customer as to retain a customer
  • Reducing these customer defections by 5% could increase profits, as much as 50%

It seems clear now where & on what the senior management of any organization should spend the largest amount of time. It should aggressively develop a passionate attitude throughout the organization to ensure every experience that every customer has is more than they expect - in other words seek Customer Delight in everything the company does.

Believe it or not, most organization don't know how to start, let alone, deploy an effective customer oriented attitude and support system. It's more than one or two individuals trying their best. Or the latest piece of technology. It starts with the CEO. His or her deeds, and action towards the customer represent the standard. The CEO must believe that always doing the best for each customer will contribute significantly towards increasing the financial health of the company. Then the trickle-down magic begins. Everyone else within the organization now clearly understands that customer's not only matter, but are the reason for being in business.

So what are these things that make a company customer-centric?

• The most important aspect of dealing with people is connecting with them as human beings. People need to feel that you care about them, about their problem, and about the solution.

"Please" and "thank you" are two phrases that can never be overly used in a customer service position.

When using the caring response you are showing that you acknowledge the customer's emotions. This will lead the company to make the customer feel welcome & appreciated.

• In order to provide exemplary customer service, employees need to assess their own attributes and characteristics in relation to their service mindset. By understanding his own individual strengths and weaknesses, an employee can improve or overcome his natural inclinations in providing extraordinary customer service.

In order to anticipate a customer’s needs and provide a service before it is requested, the employee must develop listening skills. The process of using probing, clarifying and confirming skills are methods for obtaining feedback from the customer.

Several techniques for clarification in handling customer concerns include paraphrasing and expressing empathy. 4 factors are provided for handling customer concerns:

  1. Take information from customer, ourselves & other people while remaining non- judgmental & empathetic;
  2. Acknowledge the talker in a way that invites the communication to continue;
  3. Provide limited but encouraging input to the talker’s response;
  4. Carry the person’s idea one step forward

This will lead the customer to feel that his expectations are anticipated, met & exceeded.

• Attitude is every employee’s key to customer service success. And it influences those around the employee. If you he is friendly and helpful, others around him will be friendly and helpful. If he answers a telephone with a cheerful voice, customers will respond in an upbeat fashion. Here are some thoughts that can be used to establish and maintain a positive and customer oriented attitude:

  • Start each day with thoughts about the positive aspects of your job
  • When negative events occur, take a deep breath and re-establish a positive
  • attitude by focusing on activities that allow you to regain your perspective
  • Whenever possible, avoid people and situations that are predictably negative
  • When things are going well, share your attitude

Applying the above will lead to customer, employer & employee having a shared understanding of service excellence.

• The customer’s number one expectation is that they will be treated with respect. This assumption is taken for granted until proven otherwise. Trust in that assumption is established at the onset, and the customer service representative must continue to prove that assumption correct. Inherent trust is generated when three things are true:

  • You are perceived as having the right set of customer service skills to achieve the job.
  • You are perceived as being impartial.
  • You are perceived as caring about follow-up when needed or resolving problems "fairly".

This will lead to service being delivered effectively, pleasantly & with courtesy.

• Customers need to feel good about the employee and the company that is represented. They need to know that you care and have confidence that you will meet their needs. Not following through or meeting some commitment causes a credibility gap.

Utilizing assurance skills lets the customer know you will personally take care of them. The main purpose of using assurance as a caring response is to provide comfort to the customer.

They want the problem solved or options offered and the assurance that you will take care of it. Assurance starts with taking ownership of the customer’s problem or concern. It involves both words and deeds. Consider the following thoughts when customers call with a problem:

  • • Use action words to describe what you are going to do and when it will be done.
  • • When transferring resolution of a problem to a manager or supervisor, reassure the customer by explaining that the person you're transferring them to will be able take care of the problem.
  • • Take ownership of each request and assure the customer that you will follow up within the company on their behalf.
  • Communicating clearly and delivering on your promises, goes a long way toward helping you overcome any credibility gap. Making the customer feel comfortable will help them let go of their misgivings and begin to trust again.

This will lead customers to expect an environment where they can bring concerns & complaints & still receive a positive response.

George R. Khayat

Partner

Mr. George Khayat is a partner with Meirc Training & Consulting. He holds a bachelor of science in management from the Lebanese American University, a master in marketing and communication from ESCP-EAP University in France, and is currently completing a master of science in management from St. Joseph University in Beirut. George is a certified marketing analyst (The Graduate Board of Management, USA), a chartered marketer (Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK), a certified Lego® Serious Play® method facilitator, and a certified sales professional (Sales Training International, USA). He is also certified in Action Selling® (USA) and Guerrilla Marketing (Australia).

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