In the long run, a skilled salesperson generates far more business from existing customers than from new prospects. Highly satisfied customers lead to years of repeat orders, upsells, cross-sells, and referrals – all resulting from delivering what is promised plus great customer service. But the intent to give great customer service is not enough.
We all want happy customers. We get them when we establish and follow through on practices to convert that goal into tangible actions. Here is Part 2 of a two-part article on how to accomplish this.
In Part 1, we talked about four of the actions you can take to deliver a level of service that will maximize follow-on business:
- Be careful what you say you will do
- If you do make an error in judgment, tell your customer immediately
- Tell the truth
- Record every service transaction
In Part 2, we will continue with five more.
If you have not already done so, please Read Part 1 before you continue with Part 2.
Thank your customers often
Almost every salesperson I meet knows about the value of sending a thank-you note after making a sale or performing a service. Yet most salespeople are not in the habit of doing this. This gesture alone will help you to stand out from most of the salespeople who call on your customers.
A handwritten note is good. I have such bad handwriting that I use my computer, but I make sure they can tell that this is a personal thanks, just for them, and not a form letter.
In “Moments of Magic,” Shep Hyken tells the story of a cab driver he uses every time he travels to Dallas, Texas. The first time Shep rode with him, this driver explained some of the sights along the way. Then, Shep writes, “He asked for my business card. He said he collects the business cards of the people he drives. The fare was $22, but I paid him $30 to give him a nice tip. It was a great ride. A moment of magic.
“Four days later, I was in my office in St. Louis. I opened my mail and found a thank-you note from my cab driver, Frank Nelson. I was overwhelmed and shocked. The note read, ‘I thank you for the opportunity to take you from the convention center to the airport. I hope you enjoyed the fountain.’ That thank-you note made my day … actually it made my week! How many times have you received a thank-you note from your cab driver?
“Now, when I go to Dallas, I call Frank. Frank picks me up at the airport and takes me anywhere I want to go. I have told others about him. While working a convention in Dallas, I gave his name to three of my clients, and they used him.
“Then, Christmas time came. What do I get in the mail from Frank Nelson? A Christmas card!
“Frank Nelson treats his customers just the way he would want to be treated. His theory is that by doing this he will make more money than any other cab driver in Dallas.
“He is absolutely right! He does!”
Show your appreciation
You can show you appreciate your customers in many other ways besides thank-you notes.
Many people like to keep a steady stream of ad specialties flowing to their customers: mugs, pens, Post-it notes, and the like. I suggest you look for even more creative ways to use ad specialties as part of your appreciation mix.
I know of one company that sends inspirational poems mounted in walnut frames to their customers at Thanksgiving. As they count their blessings, their customers are among them.
Can you hold a really neat social event for your customers? Treat them to something special to show your appreciation. You might suggest they invite their colleagues (possible referrals for you).
What added service or special discounts can you give to your most valued customers? Perhaps you could create a special “frequent customer” discount or special reward.
If you aren’t your company’s top executive, persuade her to visit some of your most valued customers, just to reinforce your entire company’s appreciation of their business. Have her bring along a thank-you card signed by many of the employees.
Create superior internal customer service
You already know that you have external customers (or clients). Have you thought about who your internal customers are? Include everyone in your organization who has a role in helping you serve your external customers.
These folks are your customers in that they have to deliver goods, services, or information to you so that you can deliver to your external customer. You are their customer in that you have to deliver information to them so that they can do their job most efficiently and effectively.
Barbara Glanz says, “It is a lot easier to create loyal external customers if the organization’s internal customers are cared for and supported. Research shows that the way an organization’s internal customers are treated is ultimately the way the external customer will be treated.
“Employee loyalty also has an impact on customer loyalty. Have you ever been in an organization where people really seemed to enjoy their work? Chances are they are well treated as internal customers, and this makes them feel good and makes them better able to serve the external customer as well.”
So consider these questions: Have you (and your company) identified all your internal customers? Do you sit down together on a regular basis to discuss how you can serve each other better so your external customers are served impeccably?
Clarify, don’t assume!
When customers give you “fuzzy phrases,” make sure you are on the same wavelength. Don’t leave room for misunderstandings. When customers say they need something “as soon as possible,” stop and find out exactly what that means to them.
Never call a customer wrong
We all know the customer is not always right. But we have to be very careful how we let them know that.
I once took some negatives to a photo lab to be turned into prints. It was about 20 different negatives, so the order was a little complicated. I read off the numbers I wanted printed to the store clerk and she recorded them. When she read the order back to me, it was not what I had wanted. She immediately told me, in an accusatory tone, that I had given her the wrong numbers. Of course, I became mildly angry.
The truth of the matter is that I may have made a mistake. We’ll never know for sure. But when she accused me of the error, she damaged her and the lab’s relationship with me. I may go back to that lab in spite of her, but certainly not because of her.
Be very careful how you let customers know they’ve made a mistake. Take as much on yourself as possible first. And when you do have to tell them, do it in a teaching manner — not arrogantly or patronizingly, but from a place of genuine care and concern.