I’ve been coaching a talented young sales-person that completely understands how to build and maintain a strong relationship with his customers and clients. His passion and energy for problem solving and creating win-win scenarios for those he serves will allow him to be a successful top producer for many years to come.
On a recent call he shared with me a situation where a member of his service support team had completely dropped the ball with one of his best customers. The client was so upset by the situation and had escalated it up through several layers of management including the top-executive.
Needless to say he was extremely disappointed and upset that a member of his own team had done something to irritate his client- whom by the way had just agreed to a fairly large contract for the coming year.
I listened as he shared his frustration about the situation. Here was a client that he had worked so hard to build a strong relationship with, spent hours on the road and on the phone answering questions, overcoming objections, and creating a proposal that would make both his clients and his own company satisfied. And yet now all of this was in jeopardy because of routine service call.
As he vented his frustrations I acknowledged and even understood his emotions and after he finished I asked him one question. How does he plan do deal with it?
His initial response was to take that anger and use it against the young service provider or even his manager. He was going to go in guns-a-blazing and make sure everyone understood just how much they had screwed up and how important this client was, how much money they were about to lose for the company, and basically preach to them why they needed to fix this problem immediately.
I reiterated that I understood his intention, I then asked him what the impact of handling the situation that way would likely result in? Essentially he would be setting up a scenario that created an adverse relationship with the support team that he relied on to service his most valued customers. I then asked him how he thought that strategy would work for him long term?
I then asked him to ponder a different strategy.
If the service team was your best customer and the same situation happened, how would you deal with it?
That question stopped him in his tracks, and got him thinking about fixing the problem instead of fixing the blame.
Think about some of your best clients for minute. Do they always do what you want them to do? Of course not, but we don’t go in and start telling them how they are screwing up our plans and making our lives difficult. No we do just the opposite. We ask a lot of questions, and attempt to gain a new understanding of why they made that decision or where they are coming from. That way we are in a better position to help serve them and their needs.
When our best clients don’t behave exactly the way we would like them to, we may get frustrated, but we certainly don’t scream and yell at them. Instead we stay patient and calm and move into problem solving mode. We tend to be so flexible in our approach and attitude with our best clients and customers. No problem or challenge is insurmountable and no outcome is impossible. We approach these situations with an open mind and a willing spirit.
Yet for some reason, when it comes to our internal customers we approach these same problems angry, or upset. We tend to show inflexibility in our problem solving approach and for some strange reason ALL of our problems seem impossible to handle and imbedded in our culture. Usually we smash into these problems with a close-minded approach and an unwillingness to compromise.
Let me ask you a question- How does that make any sense at all. These are the people that you rely on the most to actually carry out the work and complete the tasks. If we consistently treat our internal support in that way, what are the long term effects? What will service look like in the future? How does this build and maintain an engaged active team that focuses on the need of our clients and customers?
By treating your internal team like your best customer you can avoid creating an adversarial relationship with those you rely on the most and actually create a seamless and supportive relationship that not only serves your clients needs, but also serves to create much less conflict within the organization.
By engaging in meaningful dialogue about serving your clients, you may also identify real gaps in skills and knowledge that will uncover both training and coaching needs. You may also identify a misused resource or someone that is simply a bad fit for the needs of the organization, all of which can create positive outcomes and results. All of this because you choose to seek understanding instead of laying blame.
The next time someone on your team drops the ball or makes a mistake ask yourself a simple set of questions.
If this person or department happened to be one of my best clients, how would I approach the situation?
What type of conversations would I engage, what type of emails would I send out and whom exactly would I include?
Am I focused on fixing the problem and getting a good outcome, or am I simply attempting to fix the blame?
Watch what happens when you make the simple Quarter Turn of treating your internal customers, exactly the way you treat your best customer.
Thoughts for the week:
To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and intergrity. – Douglas Adams
Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with your becomes your trademark. – Jay Danzie
Doing your best is more important than being your best. –Zig Ziglar
It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one. – Unknown
If you think you are too small to make a difference than you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito. – African Proverb
You are serving a customer, not a life sentence. Learn to enjoy your work. –Laurie Mcintosh
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. – Bill Gates
Good customer service costs less than bad customer service. –Sally Gronow
Looking forward to our next connection!