Customer Service systems and customer service training is often seen as “fluffy” by the Financial Director and the Sales Director. They are right to feel uncomfortable. Over servicing customers can be as damaging to sales and profits as under servicing them.
There is a huge difference between striving for the highest level of customer care and the right level of customer care. And not just because striving for perfection can be infinitely expensive.
One B2B company I know spent years fine-tuning and improving it’s level of customer support. They were extremely proud of the resulting 24/7 emergency response team, providing sales of spares and technical support around the clock. However, when we surveyed even the largest customers, they all said that even though they themselves worked on week-ends, they did not expect their suppliers to do so. The company had indulged in “mind reading” of customer expectations. ” When suppliers offer us that level of unsolicited support, we start to think there must be a catch. Are we being over charged? Are they desperate for business?” Were some typical customer comments.
The popular “Customer Lifetime Value” equation is often used as an excuse to write a blank cheque to improve the customer experience. Because, after all, isn’t it cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one? – NO. Sometimes it is cheaper to find a new one.
Tough questions and disarming honesty
The key to avoiding disappointed customers, AND unnecessary after sales, customer care expense, is to ask tough questions BEFORE they become a customer and to get good at uncovering and setting, mutual expectations for the post-sell experience. ie:
” What do we have to DO to make sure we never lose your business?”
“What do we have to make sure we DON’T do?” – Are two obvious questions to ask.
” If we mess up once, is it over?” Is a tougher question to ask, because we fear the answer might be YES! A more reasonable answer is – ” No. No-one is perfect. This is what I expect to happen when you do mess up, so we can maintain our relationship………”
It’s those disarmingly honest, tough, questions that help us uncover the real level of post sales support, and whether they are achievable.
Pick your customers carefully
If some one tells us they expect perfection, and will not forgive anything less? Well, that’s up to us to decide whether we do business. It’s up to us to decide whether we put our systems and customer service under that amount of pressure. Or instead, put the time and resources into finding another customer that fits our expectation profile.
It is more profitable to “fire” an unreasonable customer and replace them with one that won’t give our customer service, systems and people a hard time.
Action: Want to increase sales and profits TODAY?
Don’t put pressure on your Customer care team. Instead, identify you most demanding, least profitable customer – and fire them.