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The Added Value - Is YOU!

If there was a restaurant in your town that was physically attractive and clean, had a pleasant variety of entr?es on the menu, served food that was prepared in an attractive manner, and the service was outstanding--the maitre'd greeted you by name, remembered which was your favorite table, stopped by later to inquire about your needs and satisfaction, the waiters and waitresses bent over backwards to make your dinner a pleasurable experience and always treated you as if you were their most important patron--would you be willing to pay a little more than other restaurants charged?

Many of us will pay a more to obtain better treatment. Why? Today, outstanding customer service has become the exception rather than the rule. We receive such mediocre service most of the time that we would gladly pay a bit more if we thought it would guarantee a better experience. Within every one of the services organizations that I advise on selling and customer or client service, I always find at least one employee who the other employees say, "the customers in our branch will wait in a long line to see Mary or they always call for Sam because they like him so much and they think he's the only one who can help them." Customers of my clients place a high value on having a Mary or Sam take care of them. They're even willing to spend time waiting in order to get the level of customer service these professionals provide and in most cases would gladly spend more money for the high quality service levels that Mary and Sam provide.

Always remember that the words "Quality Service" are deceptive at best. There are at the least two levels of quality service--high quality and low quality. Only you can make the difference in which adjective is used to describe the service levels in your organization. In many business and service organizations today, about the only competitive edge many companies or firms have is the level of customer (or client) service that they offer. Often, a company's products or services are "vanilla flavored" or so similar in their makeup and pricing that they can't easily be differentiated. As a sales or service representative you must help your organization create an "edge." You need to understand that you are the value that must be added to your products or services that a customer or client will pay more for, but only if you avoid these customer irritants:

1. Avoid saying "I don't know." Say, instead, "Let me find out for you."

2. Never put a caller on hold. Instead, say, "I can certainly check on this for you. May I have your name and the number where I can reach you within the next few minutes, hour, etc."? Studies show that people judge time poorly when ask to wait or are placed on-hold.

3. If the telephone caller asks for someone else who is momentarily busy or on another line and insists on waiting, make certain that you check in on the caller every 15-30 seconds. Remember a minute waiting is quickly magnified into three to five minutes for people on-hold.

4. Don't tell a customer or client what you can't do for him, focus instead on what you are able to provide.

5. Never say, "I can't do this because it's against our company's policies (or against government regulations)" Instead, tell your customer or client what you can do to help him with his request or problem.

6. Try not to say, "Our computers are down." Instead, phrase your message positively: "I can check that for you by making a brief phone call. Excuse me for a moment." Or, "I'll give you a manual receipt for your deposit and will personally update your account as soon as my computer is functioning." (Also, don't blame mistakes on the computer--your customers know better).

7. Don't let a customer or client you are meeting with, feel that a ringing telephone is more important. If no one else is available to answer the telephone, say, "I'm going to quickly answer this call so it will not continue to interrupt us." Then tell the caller; "I'm with someone at the moment. May I have your name and number and I'll return your call within the next 15 to 20 minutes?" Even if the caller just wants to ask a simple question, you've sent an important message to both the caller (I can't talk now) and the customer or client (you are "valuable" to me and I will treat you with the importance you deserve)

VIRDEN THORNTON is the founder and President of The $elling Edge?, Inc. a firm specializing in sales, customer service, and management training and development. Clients have included Sears Optical, Eastman Kodak, Bank One, Jefferson Wells, and Wal-Mart to name a few.

Virden is the author of PROSPECTING: THE KEY TO SALES SUCCESS and the best selling BUILDING & CLOSING THE SALE, Fifty-Minute series books and CLOSE THAT SALE, a video/audio tape series published by Crisp Publications, a division of Thompson Learning. He has also authored a Self-Directed Learning series of sales, coaching, telemarketing, and productivity training manuals. To obtain a discount on two of Virden's new manuals, 101 SALES MYTHS and ORGANIZING FOR SALE SUCCESS, go to http://www.TheSellingEdge.com/book1.htm.

V irden has a degree in communications from the University of Utah. He teaches for the Center For Professional Development, Texas Tech University and in the School Of Entrepreneurship, J. Willard And Alice S. Marriott School Of Management at Brigham Young University.

http://TheSellingEdge.com

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