Cus­tomer ser­vice: Would you buy from you?

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - Ca­role Spiers

FROM buy­ing a pair of shoes to a pur­chas­ing new car, we don't just want to buy a prod­uct - we want to buy an ex­pe­ri­ence! With so many prod­ucts on the in­ter­net that we can buy, why should we make the time to go to a re­tail out­let to buy any­thing?

The an­swer is be­cause of the good feel­ings that you get when you go into a store in Mall of the Emi­rates in Dubai or a shop on Ox­ford Street in Lon­don to spend your money. It is all down to the 'feel good' ex­pe­ri­ence and the 'cus­tomer ser­vice' that we ex­pe­ri­ence as soon as we walk into a store, for we all have choices as to where we shop.

The ex­pen­sive tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ment is not enough any­more for the so­phis­ti­cated child or adult shop­per. They know what they want and they know the ques­tions that need an­swer­ing and it is up to the salesperson to pro­vide the an­swers but with so much com­pe­ti­tion, this is not al­ways an easy task.

Very of­ten when you walk into a shop, you can see a num­ber of shop as­sis­tants talk­ing to each other and ig­nor­ing the cus­tomer, so that you walk away with­out buy­ing. Con­versely, if you are not given a mo­ment to look around be­fore you are pounced upon by an over-en­thu­si­as­tic salesperson, that can also scare you off - I know it does for me. I like to think that there is an as­sis­tant to whom I can speak about the prod­uct for which I am look­ing, but with­out be­ing pres­sured.

It is the same with any prod­uct or ser­vice that you want to sell. Your prospec­tive client may not wish to buy from you just at that mo­ment, but they may do so in 3 or 6 months time. Your role needs to be cour­te­ous and un­der­stand­ing and when they say 'not now' or 'just look­ing', they are left with an im­age of cour­tesy and un­der­stand­ing. That way, they may just be in­clined to come back to you when the time is right for them i.e. when they have the money and in­cli­na­tion to buy.

What you need to cre­ate is a pro­fes­sional im­age of good cus­tomer care that is re­tained by the prospec­tive client / cus­tomer. So how can you keep your name in the fore­front of your cus­tomer's mind so that they even­tu­ally re­turn to you with an or­der? If you have their email, you can keep them updated with a news­let­ter but not too of­ten or they will just switchoff. The bal­ance has to be reached be­tween giv­ing the cus­tomer rel­e­vant con­tent, a spe­cial of­fer or a re­minder that is of ben­e­fit to them. And in that way, they will re­gard you as a pre­ferred sup­plier, an ex­pert, and some­one to whom they would like to do busi­ness. In time, will want to come and re­pay your con­sid­er­a­tion with an or­der.

It's all about 'grow­ing a re­la­tion­ship', whether this is via the in­ter­net or in per­son. Ei­ther way, it is a re­la­tion­ship and cus­tomers/ clients need to feel com­fort­able and val­ued be­fore they en­ter into any con­tract.

So where does your prod­uct or ser­vice fall in the 'cus­tomer ser­vice' scale? Do your prospec­tive clients see you as an ex­pert that they can trust?

If peo­ple contact you, would they re­ceive an im­me­di­ate re­sponse or would they have to wait for days to hear back from you and by which time they will have gone else­where? It never ceases to amaze me the huge sums of money that are paid in ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing and then there are in­suf­fi­cient peo­ple to an­swer the phone calls. When cus­tomers buy from you, do you have a fool-proof back-up sys­tem that ac­tu­ally works when a cus­tomer has a prob­lem and needs af­ter-sales as­sis­tance?

What is the last­ing im­pres­sion the client/ cus­tomer will re­mem­ber about you af­ter hav­ing left?

Re­mem­ber that all the ad­ver­tis­ing and PR in the world will not put you ahead of your com­peti­tors if you don't fol­low-through with good cus­tomer care and af­ter-sales ser­vice.

So where do you think that you are on the 'cus­tomer ser­vice' scale? If you don't know, then ask some­one else!

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