Who’s Responsible for Customer Satisfaction?

Thursday, July 1 2010

Who’s Responsible for Customer Satisfaction?

It would be easy to say that head office employees are responsible. The production team, the supervisor, the shipper, the accounting department. That’s all true, but if you stop there, it’s a cop out. It’s ultimately the salesperson. When you sell something to someone, you set the expectations, you make the promises, you make the commission, you get the referrals and the repeat business, if all goes well. If it doesn’t, you suffer along with the customer.

As the salesperson, there are limits to what you can get head office employees to do for you. It’s up to you to liaise with the customer and head office staff to manage the customer’s expectations.

How can you take responsibility to increase customer satisfaction?

1. Ask enough questions to find out what will make the customer happy. Don’t assume anything! If you deliver the product early, you might assume that would please them. However, they might have planned to be there when it arrived only to find that you delivered early, while they were away. Some good expectation-setting questions might include:

a)When do you want delivery or the project completed?

b) Will you need any assistance or service when it arrives?

c) Who will be using this?

d) How will it fit in with other…equipment, appliances, décor, or people, etc.?

e) Why are you buying this particular…model, service, type, colour, etc.? f) How would you describe a perfect scenario in which you would rate us as 10 out of 10 when the job is done?

2. Summarize your meeting with them verbally: “To make sure if I’ve got this right, if I understand you correctly, what you are looking for is… [itemize your understanding]. Is that correct? Have I missed anything important?”

3. Always do what you say you’re going to do. Confirm what you can and cannot do. If you can’t deliver it by their preferred deadline, say so clearly. Promise what you know you can deliver and ask if that would be acceptable. If you can’t meet their expectations and they won’t agree to anything less, walk away from the deal. An unsatisfied customer is worse than no customer at all.

4. Follow up with a letter outlining your understanding of what the customer wants, needs, and expects immediately following your meeting with them or when you’ve made the sale. Confirm in writing that their expectations will be met, or that there are items that can’t be done or will cost extra if they really want them. Set accurate and realistic expectations.

5. Prior to delivery call or email your customer and confirm what is happening. Always be on time or call ahead if you, or the delivery, are going to be delayed for some unexpected reason.

6. After delivery call and ask if everything went the way they expected.

7. Be polite to a fault.

8. Send a card, thanking them for their business.

9. Stay in touch with a newsletter, such as this one, providing additional benefits and information just because they are customers.

10. Call them at regular intervals to stay in touch.

While none of these items is burdensome individually, they do take time and effort in order to follow through in a consistent manner. Are they worth it? If the last salesperson YOU dealt with on a large purchase had done all of these, would you be inclined to buy again? Would you pay a premium for that service? Would you tell your friends? Would you give them a positive rating on the internet?

In a world where the acceptable standard of customer service is simply showing up, doing even half of this list will move you head and shoulders above your competition.