Category Archives: – Customer Service

Call me Madam – Part 2

Have a Nice Day 3

Following the Ask Jeeves poll which highlighted the various annoyances of call centres [see Call Me Madam-Part 1 – April 2013], it’s clear there are some aspects of business etiquette which are just too important to ignore. For an easy checklist of how your customer-facing staff should be presenting themselves, here is my Top Ten:

1.  Do they always know the name of who they’re speaking to, and use it? If it’s unusual or unfamiliar, they should ask how to pronounce it and get it right. The same goes for spelling it correctly in any correspondence.

2.  Follow-up and/or thank you emails should be a matter of procedure and sent as soon as possible. In addition to ensuring that the rep or account manager has remembered, such professionalism will reflect well on your organisation.

3.  However boring, do your people show genuine interest in what their prospect or client is saying? As well as adding to their professional ‘persona’, listening to what their buyer has to say will give them valuable information which they can use to sell. Applying sales methods and techniques will keep a prospective buyer on track if he really is droning-on off the issue.

4.  Language! Slang, offensive or abusive language are an absolute no-no – even if describing a disreputable competitor – and can easily slip out. I could write reams on the insults I have heard reps describe the difficult prospects who never buy, together with a long list of their swearwords of choice. Without exception, such language and banter are for the back-office only – and you may need to remind them of this.

5.  The handshake. Still enormously important. Even if they’re unexpectedly introduced to someone in a casual setting, it’s good to be seen to make the effort by standing up (and yes that includes women as well). A handshake should be firm and efficient.

6.  Good eye-contact with customers. Vital. I even come across university graduates who still haven’t learnt this.

7.  Mobiles should be switched off before any meeting or presentation.

8.  No buts. Customers or prospects should never be interrupted.

9.  Following from point #8, if he has a complaint he needs to rant about – let him. However, company representatives should make an assurance that they will investigate/resolve the problem asap – and ensure this is done.

10.  Finally, how often do your staff smile? This underrated feature costs nothing. Everybody looks more attractive when they smile (ok, maybe not the last Prime Minister, but you get my point). A genuine smile signifies sincerity, honesty and openness – positive qualities when perceived in a sales person.

To anyone visiting your premises, a greeting with a smile from the receptionist will convey a warm welcome, giving the impression that your company is ‘nice to do business with’ – something which says more than any carefully written marketing blurb in a brochure or website.

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How Deep is Your Grudge?

Smiley-Bittersweet Reduced

Latest statement today from the OFT regarding petrol and diesel prices: “Competition is working well in the UK road fuel sector.”

Hmm… On hearing the inevitable protests to this, the words ‘grudge purchase’ sprang to mind. Now, I have no idea who first coined this phrase but it’s a powerful tag for something we never feel good about paying for. In straitened times consumers are likely to be sensitive to grudge purchases such as fuel. By the same token, what about the inevitable grudge purchases which are part of running a business?  Certainly overheads such as rent, heating and electricity. Then there’s insurance, health and safety compliance measures, audits for accreditation etc. What about emergency or ‘crisis’ costs for recruitment or legal fees? Does your organisation supply any of the services I’ve listed? If so, how good are you at recognising just how your customers may feel about your invoice? For example, if a cynic were to describe your product as a grudge buy, what do you offer in terms of benefits and service which puts you ahead of your competitors? If you’ve never thought about it in this way before, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at every step of the customer’s experience.

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