The question, “Are your employees destroying your reputation” is NOT rhetorical.
I just got off the phone with my web service provider. The call went like this.
Me: “I have two sites hosted with you. They’re identical, yet one shows up when I Google the name and the other doesn’t.”
Service rep: “Let me check. It’s because you don’t have SSL Certification on your sites. We can do both sites today for $600.”
Me: (Not biting.) “I’m not doing any more upgrades until next month when my web site technician is back from vacation.”
Service guy: “If you do it today, we can discount the price 30%.”
Do you see the problem?
He lied. If I have two sites, one works and one doesn’t and neither has SSL certification, SSL certification can’t be the problem! In an attempt to score a $50 commission, this guy just destroyed the integrity of his company.
This is so common today, it’s laughable.
To be sure, selling up at the point of contact is a good idea, but not at the expense of losing a customer. Imagine the call went like this.
(After I explain the problem.)
Service rep: “The reason is that the one site is slightly older then the other. It takes as much as 6 months before search engines index a site. One other issue I see here though, is SSL certification. If you have a minute, I can explain why that’s important.”
When a customer calls customer service, the only priority must be customer service.
As a company that markets software, and publishes novels, screenplays and web content, we are keenly aware that the customer is NOT a dummy. Whenever a person hears a statement, their first thought is intent. Why is this person saying this? My customer service question told me two things.
1) The service rep was trying to bag a commission, and…
2) He didn’t listen to my question or even care what it was.
Business owners must remember, the customer or client is bombarded with cash flow maximization schemes.
They get these, sometimes, all day long. The average American gets dozens, perhaps hundreds of point of sale pitches per day. Many people are becoming numb to them. When I open my email in the morning, I have about 200 emails, half in my updates folder and the other half in either my priority or my friends folders.
The vast majority of those are sales pitches.
From my experience running businesses for 30 years, I know most of these are scams. Almost everything marketed as a web site maximization program is a marketing scam. After that there are the “games.” These are companies that want you to play a game designed like a slot machine to get you tricked into thinking they can win. Again, scams.
If a company’s service department is told to prioritize cash flow first, get which basket they’re getting tossed into? That’s right, the scam basket.
My experience has been that this is rarely if ever the intent of a business. But if you offer commissions for selling, it’s going to be.
There are two ways a company can get around this issue.
First is to train and monitor your service staff, but this is difficult and expensive.
The easiest way is to simply stop paying selling commissions.
Contrary to what many managers think, people like helping other people and if they believe in the product, and the product works, they’ll sell it anyway. The fact is, most people think commission-based selling is cheesy and hate doing it. This is why managing salesmen is so hard.
Furthermore, if your employees are not getting commissions, they should tell the customer that.
For example: “Miss Client, we don’t work on a commission basis here, but I really think SSL certificates on your sites are a great idea. They blah… blah… and blah. I know it seems expensive, but we have ways to make it fit into your budget.”
The customer is calling for help. You hear the question. You offer help. A perfect communication.
Believe me, very few customer communications are like this. The majority are close the sale, close the sale, close the sale.
Let me give you an even better example.
I called an office complex asking if they had executive rentals. I needed an office for an out-of-town employee for one month. I was very clear about what I needed. One month.
I received back an email. There was an invoice for three months rent up front and a two-year contract! In addition, there was a bill for $150 a month for coffee and secretarial services!
My first thought was, “Is this salesman mentally ill?”
Then I realized it was December, the end of his year and his commission cycle. I laughed out loud. The sad fact was, though, that it was a large and very connected company being represented by a salesman that didn’t even make an attempt to listen to his customer.
Service based sales can really hurt customer retention.
It not only makes the customer mistrust the company, but it makes them not want to use the product they already own because they’ll simply get bombarded with marketing materials.