Successful salespeople stand apart from their brethren when it comes to providing the kind of customer service that keeps customers coming back for more — and paying for it. In fact, the salespeople who are on the top of the heap don’t differentiate between sales and service; they see mind-blowing service as a critical enabler to making a sale.
How can a sales organization create a culture where everyone is obsessed with providing incredible service?
It’s not just about what you aspire to be
It’s critical that you have a detailed service strategy in sales — yes, sales needs a service strategy to complement their sales plan — that clearly differentiates your organization from others.
The service strategy must address not only the element of service that your customers treat as their top priority — it could be fast follow up on customer requests, always being available, comprehensive on-site product training — but also the one that your organization uniquely provides.
If your service approach mirrors what your closest competitor does, there is no compelling incentive for people to choose you over others.
It’s not just about technology
The cool technology employed to facilitate customer transactions isn’t the key influencing factor. You may think it’s easier for you to drown your customers in call answering technology when they try to contact you, but they won’t be impressed.
Employing the latest technology to maximize the efficiency of your operations is essential — as long as it doesn’t detract from the experience your customers have when they do business with you.
But if the sole reason for implementing the technology is to drive service costs down, sales results will suffer.
The desired outcome must be to apply technology to both enhance the customer experience AND improve the use of internal resources.
It’s not just about awards and recognition
The awards you win for being recognized as a sales organization that provides “best service” means very little. This recognition is often provided by so-called experts in the service field who claim to have their fingers on the pulse of customers and who conduct surveys to determine the leaders in the service area.
Because they apply their own criteria on what superlative customer satisfaction looks like, your sales organization could be praised for achieving high marks in an element of service your specific customers don’t value as their highest priority — your award is therefore meaningless to your business and won’t help you achieve the sales results you covet.
It’s not just about serving leadership
And it’s not just about having a serving leadership culture that places the emphasis on enabling people to do their job — removing the roadblocks and “grunge” that get in their way.
Yes, serving leaders are critical to developing a successful culture based on delivering mind-blowing customer experiences, but more is required to sustain it in a highly changing and competitive world.
Words are critical to providing amazing service
A brilliant service strategy IS about what is said and not said during the customer engagement process; the Moment of truth when the customer and company are connected for the purpose of satisfying what the customer wants and desires.
The sales service strategy comes alive in that Moment, whether it’s a real-time conversation with a sales rep, a web page view, or an advertising message.
In that Moment, your service strategy is no longer a strategic intent; no longer a piece of paper with words expressed on it. It’s an experience that either renders your intent alive or dead; the truth or a lie — your strategy in that moment degenerates into reality.
Words can hurt, anger and dazzle
Many words characterize the Moment; words that either leave the customer feeling heard, honored, and cared for or feeling berated, belittled, and angry.
This is where most organizations fail. They don’t treat words used in the Moment as a critical element of their strategy that needs as much or even more attention than the service end game intent.
It’s one thing to say “When a mistake is made, recovery will be our #1 priority” and quite another to have people equipped with the right words to manage the recovery Moment when the customer has been screwed over by their organization.
If the wrong words are chosen, the recovery element of your service strategy dies — and your customer trots off to one of your competitors. If the right words are chosen (with the promised action of course) the customer is surprised, delighted, and more loyal than if the OOPS! never occurred in the first place.
Service training must include what to say and what not to say, starting with the latter because the trash words must be expunged and replaced with the words that will support and enable your service end game.
Start with “You should”; the one single phrase with so much implied meaning that it can singlehandedly scupper a Moment.
— follow the instructions (you dummy)
— upgrade your software (can’t you read?)
— call the billing department (and don’t bother me)
— have reported the problem when you were covered by your warranty (don’t expect any help now)
— be more understanding (leave me alone!)
— have known our policy (WE control YOU remember?)
— make your choice (can’t you make up your mind?)
“You should” explicitly says that your behavior should be governed by my expectations of you, NOT by your reality.
How can that ever lead to amazing service and sales Moments that leave the customer breathless?
It never will.
Mind your words.