The short answer is, absolutely. Customer service is one of the five selling styles for sales success and all five must be used to reach the pinnacle of ones’ career. However, the over reliance on any one particular style will sabotage your own success. The Customer Service Style is the easiest and therefore, the one that most salespeople over emphasize creating challenges that should never exist.
The Customer Service Selling Style is made up of four distinctive characteristics:
1. Knowledge: This is where you want to prove to your prospect how brilliant you are and you share every bit of knowledge about your product and/or service with them. In the end, they know what you know.
2. Reliability: Defined as; ‘the ability to be relied on or depended on, as for accuracy, honesty, or achievement.’ The end result is that your prospect is relying on you to perform above and beyond the scope of your job description.
3. Amiability: Defined as; ‘agreeable, willing to accept the wishes, decisions, or, suggestions of another, or, others.’ How amiable are you to drop your price, give special incentives, or, even do work for your prospect which may take you away from your own responsibilities?
4. Customer Focus: Are you so focused on certain customers to the point where others are being ignored, or, not serviced in an appropriate manner?
Don’t get me wrong, customer service is very important; as without it, the chances of keeping an account becomes very slim. However, what degree of customer service is appropriate?
Going back to the characteristic above, if we give the customer all the knowledge about our product and/or service, then why do they need us? They need some knowledge to make sure that implementation is not only smooth but effective, as well as productive. However, do they need to know more than how to use it in their day to day application?
I had a case while working with an individual that shows the pitfalls of being overly reliable. We were going to go out to make joint calls. He informed me that before we started he needed to drop off an order to an account. I had no trouble with this, as I thought that would be our first call and we would drop off the order and have a meeting at the same time. We did not!
He became the reliable delivery driver. I asked him why he did it and when he said: “The customer asked me to.” I then asked: “How much is the order worth? Not the invoice total, but the actual profit from the order and how much of that profit went into your jeans in the form of commission?” He did some rough calculations and came up with: “About $25.00.” “Okay.” Was my response: “We drove 25 minutes in the opposite direction of the one that we needed to go for our first call, which is now more than an hour away, so you could put $25.00 in your jeans without the expectation of talking to the decision maker. Do I have that right?” I have nothing against dropping something off on rare occasions, the operative word is rare, as long as it comes with the expectation of a meeting to increase business at the same time. One has to balance reliability with time and where one get the ‘biggest bang for the buck.’ To put it bluntly, it’s your career, not theirs.
Suffice to say, if you become too amiable to the customer you are setting yourself up to be taken advantage of. Human nature being what it is, if there is an opportunity to take advantage of someone, you can bet that it will be taken. The word ‘lackey’ comes to mind.
Customer Focus: Are you spending so much time with your $25,000.00 account because they like you and always have time for you that you are ignoring your $250,000.00 account because they are not as friendly and want to be more businesslike? Guess what, keep ignoring them and you will need to find ten more $25,000.00 accounts to make up the shortfall in your numbers when they leave.
Again, nothing against customer service; In fact, I’m all about it, but it has to be reasonable, warranted and most importantly, appropriate.