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Sales Eye - Ten customer-service mistakes (Sept 19th, 2005)



Ten customer-service mistakes

19th September 2005


Superior customer service is the secret to repeat business. If your customers are happy with the service they receive after the order is signed, they will keep coming back for more.


All too often, as salespeople, we spend our time searching for new leads, preparing offers and trying to win new business, while completely ignoring our existing clients.


We have all received poor customer service, and we have almost come to expect it. However, there is always another choice for your customers. For Example, you are not happy with your internet provider, you can choose another one.


Bad customer service will ultimately lead to lower sales. We have compiled a list of our top-10 customer service mistakes that could be happening right under your nose.


Unanswered phones: Or you are put on hold the second you get through. When this happens, many customers just hang up and don't call back. Make sure your office has sufficient capacity to handle client calls.


Geek speak: Your employees use 'company or industry specific' language the customer does not understand. That doesn't impress the client, it confuses him or her - and confused clients go elsewhere. Bring it down to earth and speak the client's language.


Pass the buck: We once gently complained to a waiter that the steak was overcooked, who replied: "It's not my fault. It was the cook" This is a most common mistake - not taking ownership of the problem. Too often, employees will tell customers that the mistake was "production's fault" or "the shipping company screwed up". Customers don't care - they choose you and your company, because they expect solutions, not excuses.


The busy sales rep: Not calling clients back immediately is a cardinal sin of sales. If your secretary tells customers, "please call back, because Sylwia is busy now or away from her desk," then something is wrong. Try to get someone else to help, give the client her cell phone number, and as a last resort, make sure the secretary gets their full information and then ensure them that they will receive a call back the moment Sylwia is free.


Hiding from the angry client: We have written about the angry client many times. What they mostly wants to do is a) yell at someone and b) solve the problem. If your salespeople avoid angry customers or hide behind cowardly emails, you've got a serious problem. Nothing pisses off an already angry customer then being ignored.


Didn't put it in writing: Too many times we hear, "I told the customer that they would receive the order a few days later, and they said OK". If the original contract has a delivery date or other detail, and you want to change it, it has to be put in writing. Yes, tell them over the phone, but always follow up with a short written confirmation.


Have a bad day: Everybody has bad days, but the position of customer service requires that you leave your bad day and attitude at home. Avoid sarcasm, and don't take your problems out on the customer. On the other hand, it is OK for customers to have a bad day - they are paying the bills.


Give them more options: When preparing offers, all too often, salespeople think they know best and give the client only one option. Later they learned the client chose something else from a competitor, something that your company carries as well. But you never offered it. Always give them a few options, even if they think they know exactly what they want.


Don't lie: Sometimes younger naive sales reps don't know the answers to questions, or can't explain something. So they make it up. This is largely a result of a lack of training. Teach your reps to be truthful, and to be professional when they don't know an answer.


Never over promise, always over deliver: The golden rule of customer service.


From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"