November 28, 2013
The customer is always right. Except in cases where they aren’t.
It sounds counter-intuitive to one of the longest standing business idioms in the world, but the customer isn’t always right.
And in cases where the customer doesn’t know what he or she is talking about, telling them what they want to hear can damage your business.
Take for example a customer who wants to convert a dual wheel configuration to a wide-base – or super single – tire.
Seems like a simple thought process on the outside.
“I want better fuel economy. I want a wider tire.”
However, you can’t simply install the wider wheel and tire and move on about your merry way.
Steve Wilton, vice president, fleet solutions, Wingfoot Commercial Tire Systems LLC, says conversion of a unit from dual tires to wide-base tires also can sometimes have ramifications on wheel bearings and other components.
That’s an aspect of what appears to be a fairly simple conversion that needs to be considered.
From an aftermarket perspective, “you really have to understand what was on the vehicle,” Doug Reis, senior project engineer for Accuride, says of making a change in vehicle tire
“There’s a lot of thought that needs to go into that process. Because the way the bearings and the axles are loaded, the clearance on the vehicle. You need a lot of data to understand that.”
In this case, there is an opportunity to help the customer, but there’s also the duty to educate them.
An improperly fitting wheel is a safety hazard, and an improperly spec’d wheel and tire combination can fail catastrophically according to the engineers I spoke with at Maxion.
That’s going to drag down the credibility of everyone involved, from the tire maker, to the wheel manufacturer to the installation technician and the garage who performed the service.
Nowhere in this scenario will the customer accept any blame.
A consultative sales approach is a good way to learn about what your customer needs, and whether or not you can help them achieve those goals.
If the customer simply says, “I want the wide-base tire to improve fuel economy,” you may determine there are other ways to accomplish that.
A change in wheel configuration may only be one part of a multi-tiered approach. Or it may not be part of the approach at all.
A change in tire configuration is only an example.
A consultative approach can be applied in every facet of customer service.
Being an expert – a true a professional – in your field is about much more than sheer execution. It’s about conveying knowledge to your customer, and helping your customer reach their goals.
It’s about helping them do their homework when they don’t even realize there’s homework to be done.
There’s a huge difference in, “What can I do for you” and, “How can I help you?”
Helping someone really draws on the years of experience, training and knowledge you’ve accumulated.
Anyone can “do” for someone. It takes a real professional to truly help.