During a recent visit to a local electronics retailer the sales person I usually dealt with was engaged with another customer so someone else helped me and answered my questions. I wasn’t ready to make the purchase that day but when I returned almost two weeks later my regular “sales guy”, had obviously been told what product I was considering. That meant that I didn’t have to go through the entire sales process again which saved me time.
A couple of days later, I discovered that a particular component was missing from the package so I called the store to have it replaced. My sales person was not working but someone else handled the call and told me I could pick it anytime. When I arrived at the store the following day, the sales person–a different one than the previous two– was expecting me and knew exactly what I needed. Once again, it was obvious that his coworker had briefed him on the situation.
This level of communication among the employees definitely reinforced my decision to continue buying from that store. Plus, it got me thinking about the impact effective communication can have on a business.
Customers often make requests, and while the person they initially spoke to is aware of the situation, their coworkers usually don’t know what’s going on. This means that the customer has to explain their situation again–in some cases, several times–before the situation gets resolved. Think of situations when you call a company and tell the person who answers the telephone about your situation. They transfer you to someone else and you have to re-state your concern or problem again. Sometimes, this person cannot help you so they pass you to yet another person. Once again, you have to repeat your story and it’s not uncommon for this process to be repeated several times before you connect with the right person and finally get a resolution to your situation.
All of this takes time. And time is the most precious commodity people have today. When you communicate customer concerns or situations to other people on your team you make it easy for people to do business with you. You save them time. You demonstrate a higher level of customer service. And this encourages people to buy from you.
This also applies to the speed at which you respond to your customers whether it’s by email, telephone, or in face-to-face situations. I can’t count the number of time I have contacted companies by filling out their on-line web-forms but never received a response. A car dealership I deal with suggests making service appointments via their website but their process doesn’t always work which means the appointment doesn’t get made or that relevant information gets lost. In other cases, I have requested quotes for products or services but no one ever responded. In fact, in one situation a salesperson called me two months AFTER I submitted my request. By that time, I had already given my business to one of their competitors. On a positive note, I have emailed some companies and received a response within a few hours. Unfortunately, this tends to be the exception rather than the rule.
Effective communication means reducing the number of steps your customers have to take. It means making sure that the automated systems you put into place work and that someone actually responds by emailing or calling that customer quickly. Here are a few other situations that prompt, effective and communication will help you improve your business and customer loyalty.
When customers are waiting for back-orders. Instead of forcing your customer to contact you, be proactive and keep them apprised of their order. While it’s not enjoyable telling people that their order hasn’t arrived yet, it’s better to be proactive.
When your customers have complaints or concerns. The faster you take care of customer concerns and the fewer hoops you make them jump through, the more satisfied they will be. If you can’t solve their problem immediately, give them a time frame then keep them updated of the progress. Don’t make them call you.
When policies change. Give your customers advance notice when your policies change. This will give them time to adapt to the change and reduce the number of complaints you receive.
In today’s highly competitive business world you can’t afford to make it difficult for your customers to do business with you. Otherwise, you run the risk that they will jump ship and use another company or supplier.
When you improve your communication with your customers and within your company, you improve your service which leads to repeat sales. Effective communication can help you improve your sales. It may seem trivial but it definitely makes a difference.
© 2006 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.