Saturday, 19 March 2011

Sales and Service Should be One

These days companies are seeing more and more departments as revenue producing, and viewing most employees within their organizations as sales people.  Departments whose goals in regards to the P&L were once only to keep costs in line, are now expected to increase revenue.  This is done by upselling and by referrals to the sales team.  This is a good thing, if done with excellence and superior customer service as the goal.

A great customer oriented service advisor does not merely act as an order-taker, but as a trusted and expert advisor in the customer experience.  She suggests products or service that will enhance the customer's enjoyment of the product; for example - a service department in an automobile dealership might suggest a fluid change because, and only because the performance of the automobile will be improved, or because, and only because, it is needed.  The extra service will add revenue to the dealership's income line, but that MUST NOT be the sole reason for suggesting add-on services or products.  The same goes for appetizers and desserts in restaurants - suggested by professional servers to enhance the guest experience, not just to pad the bill.  It applies to hotel front desk clerks - upgrades to premium rooms to enhance the guest experience based on information gleaned at the reservation or check-in.  An astute representative will determine what is the purpose of the visit.  If it is to celebrate an anniversary, for example, an upgraded room for a few extra bucks might make this a memorable weekend for the couple (and make the husband who booked the hotel look like a superstar in the eyes of his adoring wife).  It applies to the service department in your company, whatever your product or service.

The flip side of the company's representative's failure to fully engage is a client who never experiences the best they have to offer for the price, or fails to get the service he needs.  "They didn't ask for it," is the telltale excuse of the order-taker, as though the customer is supposed to be the expert.  "It was OK," is the telltale appraisal of the customer experience.  OK, but not memorably good or bad.

"They didn't tell me they didn't want it," is the cry of the coward, who slips in a service or product the client might not have approved, had they known the price or the details.  In this case the employee fails to fully disclose, perhaps in embarrassment at the price or the value, or in fear of rejection by the customer.  It can happen because of the pressure of sales targets unrealistically imposed on secondary, or accidental salespeople.  (An accidental salesperson is an untrained or undertrained employee whose primary contribution is in one area, and who by the nature of his expertise has the opportunity to increase sales without the necessary intervention of the professional salesperson.)

Clearly, the optimum is a fully informed customer interaction with an empathetic expert that may result in increased revenue for the company, and will definitely result in increased satisfaction and repeat business and referrals (loyalty).  That requires a commitment to excellence from the top and a clearly defined statement of intent, something frequently lacking in today's business environment.

Those who get it right make money.  Those who don't scramble for every penny they can filch out of the unsuspecting client's wallet.

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