Salespeople often feel squeezed between two masters, the company they work for and the customer they need to get them paid and refer new business to them. Master salespeople recognize that they are in the customer service business before they are in the selling business. They also realize that ongoing rapport with their customers is critical to their long-term success. The squeeze comes when a customer satisfaction problem arises. Here is the best way to protect your relationship when you have a customer satisfaction issue.
Perception is everything for your customer. Therefore you must never be seen as acting in a way that is counter to your customer's needs. This means the customer must never see you siding with your company against him or her.
By this I mean, you must avoid confrontation at all costs. But what if the client is wrong? As a salesperson that is not your concern. Let me explain. If you choose to openly take the company side, you will lose.
Everyday salespeople make the fatal mistake of arguing with customers and quoting "company policy" which has the sole purpose of protecting the company's assets. These policies have virtually nothing to do with customer service.
If you have a customer satisfaction issue, here are the most effective steps to take.
1- Listen actively to the customer's concern without comment.
2- Take Notes, particularly if the issue is complex.
3- Review and feedback so that the customer will realize that you have understood the problem accurately (from the customer's point of view).
4- Express empathy and understanding by acknowledging the customer's complaint and how the customer is feeling.
5- Try to determine if the complaint has genuine merit.
6- If so, do whatever you are authorized to do to resolve the issue as promptly as possible.
7- Question the customer as to what he or she would like done to resolve the issue to their satisfaction.
8- Defer, Defer, Defer to a higher power in any case where the solution to the customer's concern is beyond your authority to resolve. In doing so, always appear to take the customer's side.
9- Never quote "company policy" as a reason why you or your company will not resolve a problem. It is the adult equivalent of your mother saying, "Because I said so, that's why.
Let's face it, there are unfounded complaints and occasional customers who will try to take advantage of you and your company. Wherever a successful resolution for the customer is not possible, the responsibility to deliver that news should always rest with the customer service department, if your company has one. Or failing that, with your manager or superior. After all, they are paid to do that.
The key to maintaining your rapport with your customer is to always remain in your customer's corner, so to speak. Leave the job of defending "company policy" to those in higher authority. Understand that in most organizations, the Customer Service Department should be, more appropriately called, the "Company Service Department" since it is their function to look after the company's needs. Most do that job very well.
As a master salesperson, you must look after the needs of your client and yourself. Even if management cannot satisfy the customer, if you follow this strategy, your relationship with your client should stay intact and may actually strengthen.
Jim Masson is a sales trainer, business consultant and author. Jim has published 3 powerful new "at Mastery" e-books to help you earn more, more often. "An Introduction to Selling at Mastery", "Selling at Mastery" and Manage Your Sales Floor at Mastery" are ready to turbo charge your selling or serving career.
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