Looking at the title of this column, you might be saying to yourself, “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” but stop and think for a minute. What can you offer that goes way beyond the product itself? What can you offer that will get your customer thinking beyond price issues? What do you have to offer that will make your customer tremble with terror when his CPA suggests dumping you because your prices are 20% higher than anyone else’s? And what drives your customer to tell his CPA to forget it, because he considers your products, services, and—most importantly—your overall value to him to be so strong that he does not want to live without your company at any cost? That is true value, and that is why selling value is so important—not only to your customer, but to you as well.
Check out Tom Hopkins’ great book on customer service, The Art of Selling. Hopkins has coined the phrase “The 7 Cs of Customer service,” which he described in a blog post:
The first C stands for Concern. I think people want to know that you are more concerned with serving them, helping them, and that they are happy, and want a long term relationship with you than you are with making the sale and getting the check. They want to feel that concern and many people in sales don’t get the dollar signs out of their eyes. If a person feels you need the sale and they feel pressure to purchase a product they’re not ready to commit to, they will fight you because they want your concern.
The second C is Competence. People demand competence and they deserve it. Clients expect you to be an expert. They want you to know your trade and your profession. They want to be able to rely on your professionalism.
The third C is Courtesy. Great people in sales are very polite. They are concerned about their manners, and they are very concerned about their vocabularies. They don’t in any way insult a person’s values by saying anything that might offend them. Our society is constantly changing its expectations for business behavior. Sadly, those expectations are often lowered, but I believe the highest paid people in business are very polite, very courteous and watch their vocabularies so they don’t insult the values of the people they are speaking with.
The fourth C is Commitment. This is one I find lacking in the business today. People are not willing to commit and dedicate themselves to becoming the very best in their industries. As you read this, I hope you realize that the top professionals make a commitment—it’s called being willing to get out of balance for a period of time so that someday they can have complete balance. I believe in balance in our lives today, but I also believe that in building a business you have to be willing to spend some time out of balance. That means if you have a family, you need to sit down with the family and say, “We are going to commit 24 months of putting in more time and effort. And, if I do everything that I have to do as a professional, I can work less time with much more income for the family. This will come about only because we are willing to make this commitment.”
The fifth C is Composure. It’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to get upset and frustrated with this business. Realize that you are in the people business and have chosen the vehicle of your particular industry to serve the needs of others. In the people business you can get messed up if you don’t keep your composure.
The sixth C is Consistency. Every professional I have ever trained who has gone on to be one of the best is consistent. Those pros know exactly how many contacts they need to make each day. They know exactly the number of calls, exactly the number of people they are going to visit, which will result in so many products sold and they make that commitment to consistency.
The seventh C is Creativity. The people I meet who do the best are very creative. In other words, if they have a challenge, they overcome it by being creative. If something is wrong in their lives, they handle it by being creative. If you have a sale that is about to fall out or cancel, get creative. If it doesn’t go through, don’t get depressed—become more creative. Approach it with the attitude that you will take what you learn from this opportunity and develop your creativity.
By concentrating on your buyers’ needs and giving them the proper service they deserve, you’ll develop a career that will support you and your loved ones for a lifetime! (Copyright Tom Hopkins International Inc.)
This is fantastic stuff, man. And here is what we need to do. We need to follow Tom’s rules to a T and come up with some ideas of our own.
Here are a couple that I have personally used over the years:
- If your company messes something up like a field reject, a quality issue, or a late delivery, and the customer is really upset, then get over there. Drop what you are doing and go visit that customer and talk to him face to face. It may provide him with nothing more than a live butt to kick or a live person to yell at, but it will be worth it in the long run. He will remember your courage and caring enough to come and see him live and in person. Yes, he will respect you in the morning.
- Here is another one. Living in New England where it snows once in a while, I always made a point to get in my Jeep and visit customers during those storms. Man, did that impress them! They talked about that for years and established my reputation as a guy who would go to any lengths to service his customers.
And there are numerous stories of people going to great lengths, chartering a plane, driving all night, doing whatever they could to dramatically deliver product on time.
These stories not only exemplify great customer service, they also become a part of your reputation as an outstanding customer service company. And that is really what customer service is all about. It’s only common sense.