Many years back, while working with an office equipment company, we ran a campaign in our territory that helped us exceed our annual quota by a huge margin.
It had been tough going till then – we were behind our quotas and the bosses were losing patience. And then the tide turned!
All it took was a Photograph. (A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?)
A small Cooperative bank in our territory had been robbed – the burglars had come in through the tiled roof during the weekend and opened the poor-quality Cash Safe, made by a local manufacturer. They had forced open the Safe with the most basic tools and made off with the cash and valuables stored in it. The “Strong Room” was a regular brick-walled room having an ordinary wooden door.
The newspapers ran the story next day with a photograph of the burgled Safe.
We prepared a carefully worded Mailer about the need for better quality Security Equipment in local banks and added the photo of the damaged Safe, from the newspaper, for impact. It was sent to all the banks in our territory. A presentation was made to the Chairman of the Apex Bank in the Cooperative Sector about our Security Equipment and how the banks could prevent further incidents of this nature by using them.
Our company manufactured the best Safes and Strong-room Doors in the country – made with special alloys they were in use at all leading banks in the country. The Chairman was impressed; he sent a note to all the banks in the network saying they should upgrade safety features and that they should connect us immediately in this regard.
We literally made a killing – our Manager’s smart observation in sensing a huge opportunity and moving swiftly paid rich dividends. Before the competition knew it we were all over the place. They made a few sales too but we had the advantage – being the first mover and also because we had the Chairman’s backing.
Are we constantly on the lookout for opportunities? Any event – change in Government Policy, customer behaviour or even change in weather – could be the indicator of new opportunity, and the harbinger of success.
Remember, all it will take is a photograph … for you to click!!
I am the archetype 21st century cyber junkie – have even started wondering whether life outside the Net has any meaning. Well, we can discuss that later but let me tell you a bit more about the call I made to the Internet Service Provider.
I had spoken about the Call Centre Agent in my previous article.
You may remember that I was quite irritated from being put on hold for more than 10 minutes and this guy aggravated the situation by not hearing what I said. He then did the unthinkable – he hung up on me! That is a cardinal sin!
I called again and got another Executive who showed the good sense to listen and responded courteously. I ended the call by reiterating my bad experience and this Executive promised to take action – even if nothing is done she had heard me out. That is the least the customer expects.
Listen! Yes, just LISTEN … that is the key to Good Service!
We humans just love hearing the sound of our own voice – so we keep rattling on and lose the customer along the way. She loses interest and goes her own way. We probably didn’t notice! Remember, two voices are needed to make a conversation.
The key to good listening:
- Keep your eyes (Yes, eyes!) and ears open – and your lips in contact with each other!
The customers body language and expressions can tell you a lot – speaks volume about her state of mind and feelings. In a phone conversation the pitch, volume and pace are indicators of the customer mood. Pay ear!
2. Don’t get distracted by your thoughts!
Let the customers words get a full run of your brain and let just that flood your senses. You are showing respect and interest by doing this. You will get your chance to speak, and to think!!
3. Confirm that you have understood before you act!
The customer probably meant something and you interpreted it differently. Ensure alignment, by summarising, before you respond or take further action; It can save a lot of trouble and time. This step also shows the customer that you care.
4. Promise to take action and give a timeline for completion
The customer is not calling to while away time – they have genuine needs and/or grievances which need to be fulfilled / solved. Deliver on commitments.
Are you listening?
The Internet connection went on the blink … Doomsday!
I am able to speak with the Call Centre Executive only after a good 10-12 minutes, during which I was kept entertained by this recorded chant: “Your call is important to us. Please Hold On!”
By the time the Executive’s voice reached my ear a small storm had built up in my head and it was waiting to explode.
“XYZ Communication, please tell us your complaint.”
I maintain composure, and knowing the ritual I said – “Our internet link is down – My customer ID is AB 78526.
The Executive replies – “Sir, 4, 3? …. Can you say the number again?
If you noticed I had never mentioned 4 or 3! I flipped; my voice rose a few decibels – “I did not say 3 or 4; how did you hear that?”
Maybe there was a lot of background noise or disturbance from co-workers – the least this Executive could have done is to have said: “Sir, I am sorry – there is some noise here and I missed hearing what you said. Could you kindly repeat that ID again?”
I would still have been a bit irritated but excused him for not hearing – he had taken the trouble to clarify.
- How often do Executive or any of us try to give clarity on the situation or the action that’s going to be taken?
- Do we take the trouble to get our customer or prospect on the same page?
- Do we sense their angst or concern and get a buy-in from them by using the right words or by expressing the right feeling.
The first thing this executive could have done is to have said – “Sir, you probably have been waiting a while to reach me. I know how irritating it can be. Kindly excuse us. We are having exceptionally high traffic on our lines due to …….”
It is important to give the customer a feeling that we care and that we are here to solve their issues – and doing that is our priority. All good Sales and Service Professionals tell the customer at each step what they are going to do and get the customer on the same page.
The next step is to make sure that we do what is promised – but let’s discuss that another time.