Many buyers can feel neglected once they have placed an order with the salesperson they have bought from. Why is this often the case? Usually, the customer is given a lot of attention during the sales process and builds a bond – a relationship with the salesperson. Once the order is placed, the salesperson often disappears, moving on to the next prospect and leaving the new customer behind. This can leave the customer feeling confused especially if the salesperson has not explained how the sales/ buying and fulfillment process works; who they will be dealing with next and if the salesperson will ever see them again.
It is important to explain how our sales and fulfillment processes work, especially if the salesperson is not responsible for the ongoing relationship with the customer. Often, the customer can be handed over to a service department or account manager, so mapping our value chains and explaining it to our customers is critical if we want to keep them coming back. With all the hard work the salesperson puts in to bring the customer on board, it seems a shame not to cultivate a customer relationship after the economic relationship has started. Demonstrating commitment to the client is central to maintaining and enhancing long-term, fruitful relationships. That is why the organization, its staff, and its customers all need to understand the sales and fulfillment process (or ‘value chain’) and how it works.
Whether it is the duty of the salesperson or the customer service team, there are several post-sale enhancement activities that can be incorporated into the value chain. As always, you should adjust the type of customer enhancement activities and the delivery medium to best fit our customer value chain process, ensuring that it benefits your customers, staff, and business.
Whatever your value chain process, here are some customer enhancement activities that can keep customers coming back:
1. Provide useful information that customers will value. Make it relevant, timely, and of high quality. Ensure it makes their lives better in some way (blogs, news & tips, updates, etc.).
2. Expedite orders and monitor installation: track orders, inform on delays, help with installation, and communicate regularly so that the customer doesn’t need to track you down for information and answers.
3. Train customer service personnel in effective communication practices. Train them in how to handle customers’ queries and complaints in a friendly, professional, ‘can-do’ manner.
4. Correct billing errors: go over all orders, correct problems (ideally before the customer recognizes them) and let them know you are addressing any anomalies.
5. Remember the customer after the initial sale and job is fulfilled. Set up a regular call schedule, and let the customer know you will be back to see how they are going. Look at ways of keeping in touch that will add value to the customer’s experience of you and your organization (see point 1).
6. Resolve complaints, preferably before they happen, and ask the customer how they want to resolve the issue – work together with them.
Remember, it is the salesperson’s job to begin the one-on-one relationship with a customer; to lay the foundations of what will come in the value chain. It is their job to properly assess the customer’s requirements and educate the customer on how they will interact with the organization once they become a customer. It is the salesperson’s job to establish what real value looks like in the customer’s emerging relationship with the organization. As salespeople, we need to ensure that we approach every customer connection with the expectation of building a real relationship and providing benefit to the customer that is meaningful and productive to them. This, in turn, adds value to our position, our organization, and ourselves.
Remember: everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is an experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider, entrepreneur, and founder of Barrett Consulting.