Volume 15, Issue 2 - March-April 2011

AsktheExpert

Customer Service
By Donna Wells

Hello and welcome back to ASK THE EXPERT! I hope you’ve had an amazing winter, or as I refer to it, the planning season. Now, with spring around the corner, it is time to handle a topic that comes up almost every time I speak with dealers. The question is how do I handle the customer who constantly complains about... my work, my employees, etc.? In other words, can you help me with my customer service skills?

First, what is customer service? Customer service is taking care of your customers’ needs and desires in a professional manner before, during and after their purchase. Hmmm, how many times have you said to yourself, “Wow, does that company (or employee) need to learn some customer service?” More importantly, how many times has that been said about you, your employees and your company? I look at my customer as my boss. I believe that being self-employed means that every single person who spends money with me, is my boss. If my team does not perform to the best of its ability on each and every client’s jobsite, I most likely will not keep that client. Or in other words, the client will “fire” me and search for another company to perform my services. So, how do we improve our customer service? Allow me to make a few suggestions.

Always be helpful, courteous and knowledgeable. These are the big three in my opinion. Helping your clients understand what they are purchasing will aid in building a long-term relationship. I look at each sales presentation as a lecture. My potential client is my student, learning about window film and gaining knowledge by asking questions. Regardless of how simple the question is I always answer as if it is the first time I have ever been asked that question. It will allow your client to relax and not think of you as a sales person, but a teacher. Once the stigma of “sales person” is removed it will be easier for you to close the sale at the end of the presentation.

Take the extra step. I always try to take the extra step and it is different for every customer. For instance, I may drive 35 miles to deliver samples to an architect who forgot to order samples and needs them that day. Or I might do something as simple as sit at a kitchen table talking to a customer about their family. People do notice when you take the extra step.

Think before you speak. When you tell a customer, that I’ll see you next Tuesday, or my installers will be at your house at 8:30 a.m., or we will credit you for 20’ of film on your next order… the list could go on and on, DO IT! Do not make a commitment to a customer you cannot keep. Nothing is more annoying than when someone says they are going to do something and doesn’t do it. Think about how you would feel if you arranged your entire day around an appointment and then the contractor does not show up and doesn’t call to inform you about the situation. My advice, though it may sting a little, is to make the call. The customer will appreciate your courteousness and will continue to do business with you if you step up to the plate and handle the situation like a professional.

Deal with complaints. No one likes hearing customers complain about bubbles, hazy film, the backing sheet doesn’t release, etc. We all have had to deal with legitimate complaints. Your customer has paid for your services or product. Your customer has the right to bring problems to your attention. Return the call. Many of us do not want to return the dreaded call. However, if you return the call immediately, the customer is going to appreciate your attentiveness. The longer you prolong speaking to the customer about the issue, the more magnified the issue becomes. As an example, I recently had an issue with the release liner not properly releasing from the film. The manufacturer was extremely responsive to my problem. Not only did my sales representative go the extra mile, but so did the vice president of sales. My issues were addressed and handled and I would absolutely recommend this manufacturer to someone else.

So, tomorrow, before you start your morning, think about how you are going to improve your company’s customer service. Here’s food for thought, if you improve your company’s customer service, do you think you could improve your bottom line?

Donna Wells has worked in the window film industry since the 1980s and is currently sole proprietor of Image Imagination in Huntington Beach, Calif. Ms. Wells’ opinions are solely her own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

Got a question for Donna?
Please e-mail it to us at khodge@glass.com. Individual names and company names will be withheld upon request.

 



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