Customer Service Begins In The Sales Call

Customer service is the thing that will set you apart AND can make or break your business. Recently I was referred to a provider for a service I need in my business. Because it was a referral I was very excited to meet with them. In the sales appointment I explained what I needed and sat through a demo of the product. It looked good, though I was trying to figure out how it would fit. The sales manager, who was leading the appointment, went over the cost structure and I wrote it down. It all sounded great.

And then I left. When I received the documentation there were charges he hadn't told me about. I called him about it and he didn't seem all that concerned. It didn't seem to bother him that he had a new client expressing concern about being told one thing and then given something else. He said he'd see what he could do about one of the charges and get back to me. He never followed up.

Then, I received a charge in my bank account and report in my mailbox. There were even more charges he hadn't told me about! I decided to try to follow up with the salesman since he seemed to be more interested in providing a good experience. While he said he'd look into it, he wasn't really able to get resolution. During all of this I realized that they had sold me the wrong product and set out to switch to the right one.

This whole experience stunk. And the worst part was the lack of attention from the sales manager. The salesman was new to the company so there was a limit to what he could help me with. He had a lack of knowledge and experience that prevented him from solving the problems that were occurring.

Fed up, I called the sales manager and left a message expressing my dissatisfaction and issues. When he didn't respond I sent an email. And you know what he told me? That I should have asked for a return call. Really?? Nowhere in this experience did it ever occur to him to contact me, have a sense of urgency, or solve the problems. He has absolutely no understanding of customer service. Instead, he leaves out critical information, doesn't respond, and doesn't act to resolve issues. 

If it weren't bad enough he tried to tell me that they gave me a really good deal because they wanted to tap into my network. If you want to get referrals from a client you first have to provide them with an outstanding experience. They have to be happy - no, thrilled - with what you've done for them before they will consider sharing your information with their network. I value my network. And they value me because they know I'm not going to send less than stellar resources to them. There is no way I would refer these folks to my connections.

When you want to build good, quality relationships with customers, start in the sales meeting. Tell them everything; spell it out and put it in writing so they know what to expect. If you need to keep a checklist to be sure you share everything, then do it. And if you run into an issue, solve it quickly. Move heaven and earth to fix anything that may be broken. Communicate constantly with them so they aren't left wondering what is happening. Don't make them reach out to you. 

If you value your clients, prove it through your actions. Savvy consumers aren't going to settle for less.

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