Let’s set up a scenario. You own a business. Your business could be quite large with thousands of people or very small…just a few. Your business has a sales component...most do. Your item for sale could be a commodity or information…it doesn’t matter to this scenario.
You’ve worked hard to build your business and your business’ reputation. The product you sell is a good one; one which you are not just proud to represent, you are passionate about it. You are pleased to have your name attached to this product and vice versa. In all aspects of your business you desire to present quality and great service. Customer satisfaction is key to you because it represents both current and future prosperity…a satisfied current customer is often not only a repeat customer, but hopefully will refer new customers for you.
Your best hope for a satisfied customer is that the sales person presenting the information about your product is reflecting your:
If this happens…the sale has more than a 50% chance of proceeding to a satisfactory conclusion. If not, don’t count on this sale.
The truth of this scenario was brought home to me yesterday through a restaurant industry example. The business is a franchise of an Italian cuisine chain. One of the pieces of promotional materials that I received was a coupon via direct [snail] mail that seemed a real value. The chain itself has a good reputation for quality-tasting food. So, I thought I’d give it a try as the convenience of a pre-cooked meal was very attractive.
My husband ran the errand for me of driving to the physical location of the eatery in our community. He took with him the coupon and presented it to the person at the counter. In this example I would say that the counter person is equivalent to the sales person. The producers of the food itself [chefs, cooks] obviously follow recipes already developed – quality recipes which have been the basis for the good reputation this chain has for good food and reasonable prices.
Yesterday, however, the sales person sabotaged possible future business from me. Although the pasta with sauce was, indeed, delicious, its presentation in the “to go” containers was sloppy – it was overpacked and dripping; dripping to the point of leaking inside the carry-out bag. The salad was worse. From the looks of it when I opened the container, in my opinion, no care was taken in the way in which the salad was packaged…entirely too much of several condiments and poorly chopped lettuce; all crammed in together. I was not a happy consumer when I opened up the packages. In this case, even though the chefs did their job, the advertising department did its job, it was the sales staff that ruined the sale for me. You see “care” is an important function of customer service.
What could the sales [counter] person have done differently?
- paid attention to the volume of pasta and sauce going into the container and making sure it was not overflowing and leaking
- made sure the lettuce was not smashed by the condiments; perhaps put the individual condiments in different containers – especially the bread croutons – they were moist by the time the meal got home from being smashed into the lettuce, raisins, tomatoes and onions
- been more mindful of the amount of salad condiments…there were more sunflower seeds piled into the container than could be enjoyed in any one salad
This seems like a minor incident, doesn’t it? Let me assure you, however, that businesses have lost customers for far less reasons than overflowing and leaking pasta containers.
If your customer has the impression that you don’t care about your product enough to give them quality service, then you are sabotaging your business. At the point of sale, when the customer is making the decision to exchange his/her currency for your product or service, then whoever it is conducting that transaction ought to be reflecting the passion and belief in your product/service and business that you do…even if that person is yourself.
Just put the shoe on the other foot. How do you like to be treated in a sales transaction? Never let your customer end up dissatisfied if it could have been avoided. Make sure your sales staff understand fully the philosophy of your business and are committed to what they are selling. Pie-in-the-sky expectation of a sales staff? Perhaps…but something to hope for.