Create sales opportunities in the service process
By Sean Hunsinger
As a salesperson, it is our job to sell the product. As a sales professional, understanding the structure of the customer experience will give you the knowledge to retain a customer for life. When a client calls with a service question for the first time often they call their salesman. They have invested their hard-earned money and trust in you. You sold them on your product and service. Just like before they purchased the spa, the customer has a problem, and it needs to be fixed. Only this time, the expectation is higher. The client wants to be assured. Their tub is malfunctioning. They do not blame you. Help them find the answer to their dilemma and build on the rapport you have created.
When a customer calls their salesman, they know it typically is not you who will be servicing their tub. I have been selling hot tubs for over a decade and have acquired a ton of product knowledge. But when it comes to fixing a tub, I still only know enough to direct them to the service department. It is perfectly acceptable to leave that to professionals. Guide your customer to the correct individual, set the expectation of what will occur and offer assistance if needed. In addition, tell them you will follow up after the issue is resolved. This is a key element in customer retention and referral business: two categories that produce sales growth. By setting the expectation, it gives you a unique opportunity and the ability to exceed it. Exceed expectations and you will be rewarded with repeat business and more sales, but first you must have a clear understanding of the process to set the appropriate expectation.
UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
All service departments are different. They range in size, shape and ability. However, they all solve problems and are in contact with the customer. This can directly affect your paycheck. So prior to giving your customers the service number, understand your service department’s basic procedures. What you want to know, they probably do, too. Spend time within the department and review paperwork they fill out — a good way to quickly learn what they need. Go out with a tech one afternoon. This hands-on approach gives you a firm grasp of what usually takes place. Now you can set the stage for the customer. No one expects you to fix the spa, but when you show the attention to detail above and beyond what is ordinary, it will exceed expectations.
SET THE STAGE
Rather than just passing the customer off, view it as an opportunity to take the credit. Let’s say you dine at a steak house, and the food is delicious. “Give my compliments to the chef,” you say, and proceed to generously tip your waiter. He didn’t cook the steak, yet your server received the accolades and money. Now rewrite the scenario. This time, the steak takes an unusually long time to prepare. Does it change your perspective or tip? What if your server said beforehand, “Food is running slower than normal”? Generally speaking, most criticism would be spared. The No. 1 customer complaint is an organization’s lack of communication. Avoid headaches by setting the expectation early on in the process. It is not your job, but it is your money. Under no circumstances should you overpromise and underdeliver; this is an absolute deal breaker.
EXCEED THE EXPECTATIONS
If you have done your job up till now, this is the easy part. Make the call. Throughout all walks of life, customers are bombarded with empty promises and little recourse. The sales profession in particular has been depicted as shady car salesmen and snake-oil conmen. Break the stigma: Call and ask how everything went.
Sometimes customers complain with their pocketbook rather than their mouth — they simply take their business elsewhere. The customer’s issue could have been trivial, but your service department gets paid regardless. Whatever the case, be the hero. When people go out of their way and have a genuine concern for others, it gets noticed.
When you understand the process, set the stage and exceed the expectations, you create further opportunity. All you really did was give them a name and a number, offered assistance if needed and made a quick follow-up call. Your service department does the job, and you offer peace of mind. You are putting yourself in front of the person who buys. As a sales professional, there is no place I would rather be.