It Will Cost You Dearly

Recently, a Canadian colleague of mine needed to travel out-of-country and wanted to purchase medical coverage for COVID-19. I happily referred her to my business insurance broker. But what happened next sure did not go the way either of us had expected.

Instead of receiving helpful service (the way I’d come to expect from them), her first point of contact was with a receptionist who flatly told her: “No insurance company provides that kind of coverage right now.”

This was untrue! The whole point to my referral was that they indeed had provided that type of coverage to me (and a subsequent email from my deeply apologetic broker confirmed this was still the case).

Even worse, when my colleague asked to be transferred to an agent for assistance, she was told that was impossible since everyone was working from home these days. They lost a valuable new customer that day…and still have work on their hands to repair their relationship with an existing one!

The point to this story isn’t about criticizing an ill-informed receptionist. Rather, it’s to illustrate how dangerous it is for you—especially these days—to not have a sales mindset at every level of your organization.

How you train your staff and how you design your interface with customers today determines your sales success tomorrow.

Even in the best of times, no one can afford to turn away new or repeat business. And these days—no matter how strong your sales are at the moment—you need those customers to ensure future growth.

As I have pointed out before, you need an all-hands-on-deck approach. Make everyone part of the sales team: from accounting, delivery staff, front-line receptionists, and product installers.

That starts with having a sales mindset. Here’s how to make it the new default setting today for how everyone in your organization must treat customers. 

Step 1 – Set clear expectations: Before you do anything else, communicate to your staff exactly why a sales-focused mindset is everybody’s business. It’s your job to know this first, not theirs. Show them what’s at stake and what their role is in the success of the company.

Step 2 – Customer-focused training for all: This isn’t reserved just for sellers. You must train all your staff to adopt a customer-focused approach to their job. That requires looking at every client interaction, including the choices your teams make in handling those interactions. Train them in the approaches that best meet your expectations and those of your customers. Teach them to ask: “How can we make this better for our customers?”

Step 3 – Monitor for trouble and insights: There’s something new to learn from every interaction between your business and your customer. Invest time to listen-in on customer support calls or do a ride-along at product installation visits. Not only are you on the lookout for unexpected trouble areas in every transaction, but you must also pay attention to what the customer is saying and doing. Businesses that do this well are able to quickly fix problem areas and be proactive in leveraging important new trends.

Step 4 – Pinpoint trouble areas and coach to remedy them: As you identify each barrier to positive customer experience in your organization, spell it out to your staff. Don’t make them guess at how to fix a problem. Be specific and prescriptive. Always coach to shape the behavior you want to see.

Step 5 – Give your team service-focused tools: Provide your staff with scripts, checklists, process-flow diagrams, operating procedures, reminders, and cheat sheets to help reinforce the behaviors you want them to master. Ongoing reinforcement of a customer-focused culture is required to make new behaviors stick. Get them to think like an airline pilot: always reviewing checklists before take-off so tasks aren’t just performed from memory. Pilots don’t take chances with their customers. Neither should you.

Step 6 – Exchange knowledge: Meet regularly as a leadership team to compare notes and create alignment between all groups. Your shared knowledge will always exceed the knowledge you collect on a solo basis. Focus also on having a unified, consistent message that resonates with everyone in your organization.

Know this: no one is exempt from playing a role in transforming action into growth and profit in your business. How your customer deals with your organization has a direct impact on how that relationship is going to evolve.

Get it wrong and it could cost you dearly in new and repeat sales. Get it right and you’ll be paving a road to ongoing sales growth and success.

5 responses to “It Will Cost You Dearly

  1. […] uncertain times, ambiguity is your enemy. Never assume your customer knows you’re open for business and that you […]

  2. Hi Colleen, each point is a terrific reminder about customer service; thank you for the important reminder. I will share this with our entire staff.

  3. Never Let Your Pipeline Run Dry - The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® : The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® says:

    […] In uncertain times, ambiguity is your enemy. Never assume your customer knows you’re open for business and that you have well-established, carefully thought-out social distancing protocols for working together safely during a pandemic. You must spell it all out. Ensure your website is clear on all these points. While much of it may seem obvious, you must instill confidence in your customers and prospects. […]

  4. […] customer today is in a tough spot when making decisions. If you’re a seller trying to convert new prospects into buyers, you’re feeling the […]

  5. Sell Like an Incumbent Even When You’re Not - The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® : The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® says:

    […] customer today is in a tough spot when making decisions. If you’re a seller trying to convert new prospects into buyers, you’re feeling the […]

Comments are closed.