Building a great company requires great customer service.
It doesn’t matter what you build, or what you sell, or how much payback you can offer, if customers don’t like dealing with your team, eventually they will look elsewhere.
This is especially true in the heavy-duty aftermarket, where a wealth of suppliers and distributors ensure a customer is never more than a phone call away from a new business partner.
If you want your customers to keep calling (and relying) on your business, you better have them trained on what to say, says the ‘Telephone Doctor’ Nancy Friedman.
As a professional customer service consultant, Friedman has spent two decades training businesses on the art of the picking up the phone.
While it may seem so easy, Friedman says over- the-phone customer service is more than just answering politely.
Your phone line is a customer’s entry point into your business. It is their first, and most common interaction with your team. It is their first chance to get to know you. It is their first chance to judge you.
And if you neglect to train your team and how to act in those conditions, Friedman says you can lose or miss customers before you even get them in the door.
During presentations at the Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) Aftermarket Distribution Summit and a GenNext training webinar this fall, Friedman has laid out a number of key steps for distributors looking to build over the phone customer service skills.
Here are four in particular I think are absolute necessities.
Be friendly before you know who is calling. During her presentation with GenNext last month Friedman recalled a receptionist she once witnessed who regularly picked up the phone with an unenthusiastic, monotone voice — only to perk up when she knew a friend was on the line. That’s no good, Friedman says, and I can’t help but agree. Every person that calls your business should be met with a positive and happy response.
Avoid killer words. I think you can probably guess a few of these right now. Don’t be negative, don’t say you ‘can’t’ do something. Friedman says one killer phrase she’s particularly bothered by is using “no problem” as a response to a customer’s gratitude. “Since when was a customer a problem?” she says. Friedman says stick to the reliable “you’re welcome.” After all, there’s a reason it’s the gold standard.
Be a double checker. It doesn’t matter if you are absolutely, positively, no-doubt- about-it sure you don’t have the part a customer is asking for, still take the time to double check. Friedman says the customer will appreciate your due diligence and you never know — maybe you weren’t as sure as you thought. And when you don’t have it, don’t return to the line with “I told you so.” Take the next step to help them get the part.
“Yes, but …” Friedman says over the phone this statement means bad news is coming. “Can you get me the part?” “Yes, but it will take two weeks.” Friedman says rather than forcing the yes into a bad statement, avoid a clause altogether. For example, “I would be glad to order it for you. It will take two weeks.” She says most customers appreciate honestly and a willingness to help more than “but …”
And while Friedman admits it takes more than a few tips to master customer service — “It’s a choice you have when you wake up in the morning that you can have a great day or a terrible day,” she says — building best practices for your team will still strengthen your custom- er response.
In an industry as competitive as this one, little improvements can mean big things to customers.
Be a double checker. It doesn’t matter if you are absolutely, positively, no-doubt- about-it sure you don’t have the part a customer is asking for, still take the time to double check. Friedman says the