It is five times easier to keep a customer we have than to get a new one – so taking customer satisfaction and retention seriously should be serious business.
We already have the most powerful marketing tool to boost customer satisfaction and increase customer retention, as well as improve employee morale and develop new products and services that are exactly what our customers want and need. The problem is that most companies don’t use it.
There is no more useful tool in our marketing armoury than our frontline sales and service people. They are constantly getting feedback from customers about what is good, what is bad, what is missing and what the competition are doing.
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Do you have open communication channels within your business so that sales and service staff can feedback customers comments, queries, ideas and complaints? Do you take this information seriously and do something useful with it?
It is very easy to dismiss customer complaints as unfounded griping or ignore customer ideas and comments as irrelevant. Feedback from salespeople about products/services not meeting customer needs or complaints about service delivery can be perceived by management as excuses for not achieving sales targets.
However, if management effectively registered these comments from the field, analysing them for trends, insights and new ideas, they could include vital information in their strategy deliberations where they could create new solutions and:
- Further boost customer loyalty
- Create a competitive advantage
- Improve morale for sales and service teams
By using the sales teams’ feedback, the business is able to develop better products and services to meet customers’ needs and the bonus is that salespeople feel included in the future direction and growth of their business. By being taken seriously, salespeople are not just seen as the one dimensional revenue generators.
Their feedback affects:
- customer relations;
- business development;
- marketing and branding;
and builds our industry, customer and domain knowledge.
To begin collecting feedback from the field we need to sensitise the sales team to its importance. We need to make them aware of the market they serve and then put a system in place for collecting, channeling and addressing customer feedback. Social media tools and PDAs (personal device applications) such as smartphones and tablets should make it much easier for feedback to be collected.
Essentially, every customer interaction is market research for salespeople and should always be treated as such.
The dilemma that faces many sales managers is to keep their salespeople selling, with as much face time in front of customers as possible, and reporting customer feedback can possibly add extra administration time.
However, if we do the right thing by customers and take their feedback seriously then it creates less administrative work rather than more. Once salespeople understand that action will be taken on their feedback, they feel compelled to gather the information.
In today’s competitive marketplace, if we are not collecting customer feedback through our sales people and fail to act on it, our customer will quickly find someone else who will.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is a sales expert, business speaker, adviser, sales facilitator and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting to provide expert sales consulting, sales training, sales coaching and assessments. Her business Barrett P/L partners with its clients to improve their sales operations. Visit www.barrett.com.au