9 Ways to Gain the Competitive Edge

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

 

Tight economy! Reduced staff! Demanding customers!

OLD NEWS: These days it’s extra challenging to satisfy and keep customers. It’s even more important than ever because customer loyalty is generally considered the primary engine today to retain sales levels and gain an advantage over the competition. It’s been this way for a long time; it’s getting more attention now.

NEW NEWS: There are hundreds of ways to do better. Here are a few that we like.

* Know your products and services . . . inside and out.

Not being knowledgeable about your company and job is a big frustration to the customer. An uneducated employee is semi-useless to a customer. Job knowledge is key. If, for any reason, your company doesn’t offer job knowledge training, make it your own priority to find out as much as you can. Job knowledge is a key ingredient to serving customers.

* Believe in your product and services 150%.

We know of a salesperson who never had any formal sales training. However, based on their belief in the product, services and contagious enthusiasm, this person is a top seller. People LOVE to buy from people who get excited about their product. Enthusiasm is contagious. Let’s start an epidemic.

* Walk the walk, talk the talk. Practice what you preach.

A Ford dealer wouldn’t drive a GM car. Employees need to support their company’s product or services before they can expect their customers to have confidence in them.

* Keep your word.

Companies spend thousands, sometimes millions of dollars advertising their services and products. They tell the customer they are THE BEST, THE ONLY, they are NUMBER ONE. “WE GUARANTEE OUR WORK.” That’s not enough. Customers need to know that you’ll do what you and your advertising say you will. If you claim to provide the ‘best of anything,’ make sure you keep your word. Telling a customer something will be ready in 7 working days and then not having it ready is a credibility buster.

* Return all calls and emails.

It boggles my mind when a phone call isn’t returned. Sure, some of us get way too many calls and aren’t able to return them in a timely manner. Well then, have the call returned on your behalf by a coworker. Not returning a call is like not using your turn signal going from lane to lane. Just rude. Returning emails is way too easy. No excuses unless spam.

* Don’t ever forget “who brought you to the dance.”

In other words, there are always customers who were with you from the start. They helped make your business a success. They believed in you. A nice simple note occasionally is an ego booster to them and you’ll feel good about it too.

* Make NO ULTERIOR MOTIVE CALLS or NOTES.

Occasionally, drop a handwritten note or make a phone call to customers (and prospective customers) without trying to ‘sell’ them something. Telephone Doctor labels those “no ulterior motive” calls. A NUM call. They’re ‘just because’ calls. . . and very welcomed. When was the last time you heard from a salesperson or a company who sold you something just to say “Hi?” (Right – See what I mean?)

* Be in a good mood.

All the time! Be the person that when the customer leaves your store or hangs up the phone, they think to themselves, “That was a great call/visit.” Not in a good mood? Learn how to be. Remember one of our Telephone Doctor motto’s: “A phony smile is better than a real frown.” Do you really think the first runner up of the Ms. America contest is as “thrilled for the winner” as she says or shows she is? Talk about a great big phony smile!

* Participate in customer service training programs at your company.

Most folks could use a refresher. And if there are no programs in place on customer service, ask for them. At best, you’ll be ahead of the competition, and at worst, you’ll at least be even with them.

Customer service is not a department. It is a philosophy. And it’s for the entire company. From president to maintenance. Everyone needs to embrace it – or it doesn’t work.

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly