The three common mistakes businesses make in customer service and sales

David Fuller: Improving customer service is the key to boosting salesI’m sure that you’ve suffered from poor customer service. You don’t have to look far these days to realize that many businesses put low value on treating customers well.

Recently, however, I worked with a company to improve their customer service.

It quickly became apparent that while their customer service was great, their sales sucked! Customers visiting the business would leave and say how nice the people inside were, but often, they left happy without buying things.

This was a challenge for the business owner, who was intent on increasing sales to create a profitable business.

This problem is too common in many businesses.

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On one hand, we have owners who think they’ve hired staff to sell products. On the other hand, we have employees who feel their job is to help customers or do customer service.

There’s a lack of clarity in the roles and responsibilities of each person, making it difficult to understand the contributions needed for the company’s continued success.

Let’s be clear: this is not the employees’ mistake – it’s an error by management.

So where did they go wrong?

Lack of clarity

The first mistake that most companies make is not being totally transparent with their employees about the company’s goals and what role they play within the company.

Every person within the organization needs to understand the expectations of their role as employees.

For example, if we hire someone to “serve the customer,” what does that exactly mean? Is that person to just walk around the inside of the building and say, “Can I help you?” Is it their job to simply put products on the shelves because that serves the customer? Perhaps serving the customer means running the till? Or when we say serving the customer do we really mean ascertaining the customers’ needs and fulfilling them?

Each objective determines the focus of the employee’s responsibility within the business. Which one did you mean when you told the employee that their job is to serve the customer?

Lack of training

Very few companies properly train their employees in selling techniques. It’s a lost skill, and it’s costing our businesses tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

We train new staff on how to greet a customer and smile when we say hello, but we fail to give them the skills they need as employees to be successful in sales.

As a result, our businesses lose customers who leave without buying and end up either frustrated or purchasing from a competitor or online.

Think about your organization right now and imagine how much healthier it would be if your employees could close sales regularly. We’re not talking about high-pressure selling, we simply mean understanding the needs of the customers, and the steps of the sales process that lead to a happy customer and a happy staff member.

Lack of measurement, accountability or rewards

So many owners and managers could reduce their stress levels by simply keeping their employees more accountable. Sales is no different.

Occasionally, I come across businesses measuring each employee’s sales, which have targets, and schedule regular meetings to measure, mentor, coach, and grow sales. But these companies are few and far between.

More likely is the fact that the sales team is frustrated because targets are unachievable and unrealistic, and they don’t feel supported in their challenges.

Often, there’s little incentive to do more than the bare minimum of customer service.

When we fail to provide our staff guidelines, expectations and rewards, we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail to deliver.

My client is working on growing her business through fantastic customer service combined with a trained sales force. I spent a week onsite with her team, training them in sales. I have no doubt that once her team is tuned up, her sales will grow.

Customer service is a great start for improving business, but it doesn’t work if we can’t supply our customers with what they really need.

Dave Fuller is a Commercial and Business Realtor, an award-winning business coach, and business author.

For interview requests, click here.


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