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Customer Experience Is The New Brand

Customer Experience Is The New Brand

The race to own customer experience is on! Companies are recognizing the importance of delivering an experience that makes them stand out from their competition. Some are learning the hard way. Last year United Airlines had a brand crisis, in which $1.4 billion in value was wiped out overnight when a passenger’s experience went viral on social media. And, you may not have heard about Juicero, but it fell victim to brand crisis when it was discovered the proprietary juice packets needed for its $699 juicer weren’t so proprietary, resulting in the company dropping the price of the juicer to $200, and then ultimately going out of business.

Be it customer service, product quality or just the way the customers feel about the companies they do business with, customer experience rises to the top of whether or not the customer will decide to keep doing business with a brand.

Today, 89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only 8% of customers agree. In other words, companies have a long way to go.

It used to be that customers could communicate with companies in only three ways. They could visit the business in person, write a letter or call customer support. Then came faxing, and then email. Today there are even more ways customers connect. They use Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and more. And, when customers do connect with you, they expect to be known and served “on demand” regardless of the channel they are using.

And, there are some customers who, when they don’t get the service they feel they deserve, complain. But, not to you. To the rest of the world on the aforementioned social channels. The good news is that some of the customers who are happy will share that across the social channels, too.

Customers want the same things they’ve always wanted, and that is to be taken care of. They may be more demanding. They may want problems resolved faster. But that’s understandable because technology has given us the tools to provide that kind of speed.

They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them. It could be a phone, a desktop computer, a tablet – whatever communication method they are most comfortable with.

To the customer, it’s all one big team: Customers don’t care which department they talk to when they need help. They just want to get their questions answered and their problems resolved. A company may have different teams, but the customer doesn’t care.

The company may define its brand promise, but it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivered on its promise. There’s a lot riding on delivering a positive customer experience.


Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, keynote speaker and NYT bestselling author. Learn about his latest book The Convenience Revolution at 
www.BeConvenient.com.

4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections

4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections

The word “no” can be a tough pill to swallow.

In selling, when you’re trying to meet a quota, squeeze in an extra deal before the end of the quarter, or get your bonus, the word “no” is too often interpreted as a sign to run for the hills when, in fact, it should be the exact opposite.

A sales objection is an explicit expression by a buyer that a barrier exists between the current situation and what needs to be satisfied before buying from you. Beyond that, it’s an indication that the buyer is engaged, which sure beats apathy.

However, you still have work to do.

When a buyer indicates that he is not ready to buy, don’t get discouraged. Use the following 4 steps to overcome sales objections and move closer to the sale.

  1. Listen Fully to the Objection

Your first reaction when you hear an objection may be to jump right in and respond immediately. Resist this temptation. When you react too quickly, you risk making assumptions about the objection. Take the time to listen to the objection fully.

Do not react defensively. Train yourself to ignore any negative emotions you may be feeling, and stay focused on what the buyer is saying and the business problem you are helping to solve. Listen with the intent of fully understanding the buyer’s concerns without bias or anticipation, and allow your body language and verbal confirmations to communicate to the buyer that you are listening intently.

  1. Understand the Objection Completely

Many objections hide underlying issues that the buyer can’t or isn’t ready to articulate. Often the true issue isn’t what the buyer first tells you. It’s your job to get to the heart of the objection, and then fully understand it and its true source.

To do this, you must ask permission from the buyer to understand and explore the issue. Once explored, restate the concern as you understand it. Sometimes when you restate the objection, the buyer sees the issue more fully, and you get closer to the true source of the objection as a result. Even after the buyer confirms you understand perfectly, ask “What else?” and “Why” questions for clarification. Often it is the answer to that last “What else?” that contains the biggest barrier to moving the sale forward.

  1. Respond Properly

After you’re confident you’ve uncovered all objections, address the most important objection first. Once you work through the greatest barrier to moving forward, other concerns may no longer matter or feel as important to the buyer.

You should do your best to resolve their issue right away. The more you can resolve issues in real time, the greater chance you have of moving the sale forward. If you need more information to resolve a specific concern, you may have to look something up. Don’t wing it—buyers can sense that and it creates distrust. Long-winded responses can seem insincere, so keep your responses clear and to the point.

  1. Confirm You’ve Satisfied the Objection

Once you’ve responded to the buyer’s objections, check if you’ve satisfied all of their concerns. Just because they nodded during your response doesn’t mean they agreed with everything you said. Ask if the buyer is happy with your solution and explain your solution further if necessary. Some objections require a process to overcome, not just a quick answer.

If the client isn’t ready, don’t try to force a commitment. Be sure not to accept a lukewarm “yes” for an answer though, either. Many buyers will accept a solution in the moment, but once you’re out of sight or off the phone, the objection still remains.

When faced with sales objections, don’t lose sight of your goal. Use the steps above to Listen, Understand, Respond and Confirm, and you will strengthen your relationships with buyers, overcome obstacles in the buying process, and move closer to the sale.

 

Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

Customer Service on the Service Drive

Customer Service on the Service Drive


We have a cat. She lives largely indoors. But, every once in a while, a forgetful granddaughter leaves the door open and the kitty cat escapes. She generally returns with something in her mouth, eager to get back into the house to show off her skills. We tell our granddaughters she got a chance to be a “real kitty.”

Customers long to be served by “a real kitty.” Scripts, protocols, rules, and regulations often keep front-line service people in a less-than-authentic stance. I have frequently listened to the banter and boisterous communications among contact center agents in the breakroom that then got muffled and stymied when the agent returned to dialogue with customers. Yet, authenticity is the feature that bolsters trust among customers. Even the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, renowned for world-class service, dropped their stock “my pleasure” and “certainly” as a way to de-cookie-cutter their brand in favor of a more genuine greeting that still retained a sense of class and respect for their guests.

Authenticity Starts with Fearlessness

There was a popular book in the 1980’s by John Powell entitled Why I Am Afraid to Tell You Who I Am. The punchline of the book was this: I am afraid to tell you who I am because you may not like who I am and I am all I have. Authenticity is mask removal in action. It is having the courage to be genuine despite internal reservations to self-protect. It is borne of self-talk that speaks encouragement plus and external atmosphere that communicates safety. Leaders can do little with an agent’s internal dialogue but they are in charge of the supportiveness of an external setting.

Authenticity is Nurtured by Affirmation

Affirmation bolsters self-esteem. Think of it as equipping contact center agents with a bulletproof vest. No matter the abuse, tirade, or criticism they receive at the hand of upset customers, the agent does not take it personally. Philosopher William James wrote, “The deepest craving of human behavior is the need to be valued.” And, Ralph Waldo Emerson offered council for that valuing process when he wrote, “Treat a man (person) as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man (person) as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Help your frontline agents find his or her “real kitty.”

Authenticity is Honed Through Friendly Practice

I was an infantry unit commander with the 82nd Airborne and served in heavy combat. It meant I was in many situations where fear for my life could have won out over responsible duty to mission and troops. When friends asked how I maintained grace under pressure in combat, I pointed to the supportive practice I received as I trained to be a warrior. Simulations, field practice, and drills gave me the “I can do this in my sleep” competence required for reality. Great leaders are effective mentors, perpetually bolstering the confidence of agents through non-stop training, rehearsal and coaching.

Authenticity is Invigorated by Leaders Who Are Genuine

Leaders too often associate their mantle of authority with a requirement for detachment. “I don’t care if my employees like me,” the swashbuckling ruler announces, “I just want them to respect me.” Such a view is often a preamble to emotional distance and calculated encounters. The headlong pursuit of aloofness as the expression of authority invites employee evasiveness, not employee enthusiasm. It triggers reserve, not respect. An open-door policy is not about a piece of furniture; it is about an attitude of vulnerability.

Organizations with cultures characterized as authentic have more than their share of employee engagement and cutting-edge breakthroughs. Turnover is lower because employees value an environment free of passive-aggressive game playing, cynicism and suspicion. Customers are loyal longer because they trust what they experience. Suppliers give such organizations better breaks because they view encounters as long-term investments, not short-term transactions.

“Authenticity,” wrote author and TED Talk speaker, Dr. Brene Brown, “is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let out true selves be seen.”

What can you do to help surface and support the “real kitty” in all your associates?

About the Author

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books His newest book is the award-winning Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at www.chipbell.com

Permanent Impressions

Permanent Impressions

Very seldom do you come across someone in sales who will consciously work on their brand, for the short-term remembrance or long-term benefit.

Tapping into that natural drive—to be remembered—is key for a successful sales or customer service career.

No two people are exactly the same, and no two people ever will be. Knowing that you are a one-of-a-kind is very empowering. Perhaps it motivates you to become well known and recognized for all the things that make you who you are.

Do you want to be known as more than just another passerby, or just another person a customer smiles and interacts with? Are you just another person they follow on social media?

Are you a permanent marker in your customer’s world or are you erasable?

I love the word “Indelible.” It’s the definition of a successful Customer Service Representative. It should be the goal of every salesperson.

So how do you make your permanent mark in a customer’s ledger? How do you keep them coming back for more?

The other day, I picked up a permanent marker and examined it from all angles. This is what I’ve come away with.

How to create permanent impressions:

  1. Work on all surfaces:

A permanent marker is capable of writing on most materials like paper, metal or stone…

  • Be just as flexible, open enough to work with all customers. Adapt to their personalities. If they’re in a rush, help them to get out of the door. If they seem upset, use empathy to connect and solve their issues. Listen to their needs.
  • Go the extra mile. Share product videos, or use social media to brand yourself as a product ambassador. Make your brand unforgettable. Join networking groups or look to meet others with similar interests. Use those opportunities to promote your brand as a sales or customer service specialist.
  • Grade your performance and look for ways to improve. Work through obstacles and continually be proactive in your pursuit. Aim for shorter response times.
  1. Saturate layers:

Permanent markers have a bleed through, seeping through to additional pages.

Apply that concept to your customer base—make a non-erasable impression.

  • Get to know your customer. Not just on the surface level, build deeper relationships. I haven’t phoned or seen my chiropractor for over a year now. I called them the other day and the assistant—Carly—at the front desk recognized my voice, the minute I greeted her. She remembered my name and even asked if I’d finished writing my first novel yet? That’s impressive.
  • Remember names.
  • What are your customer’s interests?
  • What do they value? What matters to your customer?
  • What products are they interested in and why?
  • If you do a great job, your customer will spread the word, creating new business. That’s a bleed through into other pages of their lives.
  1. Make an Impression:

A permanent marker is bold and stands out on the page. The saturated color makes a statement. Back in the sixties and seventies, many celebrities and rock stars used permanent markers to sign autographs, for this very reason.

Be deliberate in your interactions and be aware of your delivery.

  • Use positive language – utilize buzzwords from your industry to get your customer excited about product.
  • Have good product knowledge. Many customers have already done their online research. Be an informative partner that assists them throughout the process.
  • Be aware of any bad habits or repetitive phrases you might use. Ask your colleagues for constructive feedback on your greeting, delivery or appearance. Be open to criticism.

Instead of focusing on closing, focus on helping new customers. Become that permanent fixture in their lives. It’s time to make an impression. Developing your own stamp will build collaborative relationships with your customer.

What’s your permanent mark?

 

September 6th, 2018 – by Bridget Perrin

 

Handling Price Objections

Handling Price Objections

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Handling Price Objections

By:Dave Anderson

How do you handle price objections? If you’re bereft of ideas in this arena, your only tool to handle price objections will be to lower the price. When you make your living on commission, dropping the price is an expensive way to overcome objections. Yet, salespeople choose this strategy time after time, almost reflexively. However, there is a more effective and profitable alternative: justifying the price.  

1. Justification Rule #1: The more you differentiate your product, your service and yourself from competition, the less price sensitive prospects become—and the easier it is to justify your price. 

2. Justification Rule #2: The less you differentiate your product, your service and yourself from competition, the more price sensitive prospects become—and the tougher it is to justify your price. 

The above rules are simple but profound when guiding you to more profitable sales. Thus, you’ve got to honestly assess what you do throughout the sales process to convincingly differentiate yourself, your product and your company and, thus, justify the price you ask. Here are a few thought starters to help refine your thinking:

 

A. How does your product knowledge, professional appearance or proficiency at the sales process differentiate you from others in your field? Do you ask the right questions? Do you really listen to the answers? When you present the product, do you focus on what the customer is truly interested in, or do you dump too much information on them and hope they sort it out? If you do a better job of getting the prospect to buy into your character and competence, you’ll have an easier time getting them to buy into what you’re selling and its price. You must find ways to differentiate yourself from every other stereotypical salesperson in the marketplace. 

B. What real advantages does your product have over the competition and do you know enough about it to communicate it effectively? Your product’s advantages are worthless if you don’t know them or do know them but can’t communicate them effectively. The key to selling against the competition is to investigate and determine what the prospect’s hot buttons are: performance, appearance, economy, etc., and then comparing your product to the competitive product in those specific areas of the highest customer interest. Comparing everything your product offers to everything theirs offers is exhausting, confusing and largely irrelevant to the prospect. Few products can withstand the scrutiny of a line-by-line comparison. Determine the prime buying motives, and compare against those lines. This raises your product’s value and, as a consequence justifies the price.

Sales professionals justify the price throughout the sales process, not just when it comes time to play show and tell with the selling figures. They manage the customer’s perception by raising the value of their product through personal, professional skill and selective and effective presentation. You can always lower your price as a last resort to save the sale and make the deal, but doing so shouldn’t be your first impulse once a customer balks. It should be after everything else has failed. After all, any amateur can make a product cheaper. It takes a professional to build enough value to make the price make sense.

Why Learning to Think “We” Not “Me” Can Help Lead You to Ultimate Success

Why Learning to Think “We” Not “Me” Can Help Lead You to Ultimate Success

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In business, education, sports, even family life, we are encouraged and rewarded to compete: land the biggest account, reach the top of the bell curve, score the most points, or outperform our siblings. This competitive environment can inadvertently encourage two opposing mindsets.

The first mindset is win-lose: if you get more, that means I get less—so I better get my share first. You think only of yourself and may attempt to win at the expense of others. While you may achieve success in the short-term, eventually you repel the people around you. Trust weakens and productivity wanes.

The second mindset is lose-win: if you get more, there’s nothing I can do, so I’ll just give up. You think of others first and allow them to succeed—sometimes at your own expense. While you may feel safe out of the limelight, eventually you withdraw and resent the success of others.

Neither extreme leads to effectiveness. Only by consistently considering yourself and others when setting expectations, making decisions, and executing on plans will you create the type of atmosphere in which people willingly volunteer their efforts, collaborate, and happily follow your lead. We call this the win-win mindset, or “think we, not me.”

If you recognize yourself in one of the extreme mindsets above, don’t worry. You can develop a “think we, not me” mindset by demonstrating high courage and high consideration in every relationship exchange. Courage is the willingness and ability to speak your thoughts respectfully. Consideration is the willingness and ability to seek and listen to others’ thoughts and feelings with respect.

First, take an inventory of the level of courage and consideration you show in each of your important relationships, then adjust the levels accordingly. For example, you may find that it’s easier to show high courage with people close to you (family members, friends, direct reports) but harder to show that same courage with people you don’t know or with people who have authority over you, such as your boss. For the best results, you’ll want to express both high courage and high consideration in every interaction.

Consider the following ideas to help you balance courage and consideration and “think we, not me” in every relationship:

  1. Identify one important relationship at work and one at home.
  2. Rate yourself on the amount of courage and consideration you show in each relationship (1 = low; 10 = high).
  3. If your courage is low (between 1-5), you may have a lose/win mindset and be thinking “them” without including yourself. To increase your courage . . .
  • Write down and practice your opinions with a trusted friend before sharing them with others.
  • Tell your boss about your latest success, then do it again.
  • Start asking yourself (and writing down) what you want and need—believing that doing so will be in the best interest of everyone.
  • Practice asking for things from others—start with things you’re sure you’ll get to help build your confidence.
  • Commit to contributing one idea in your next meeting.

    4. If your consideration is low (between 1-5), you might have a win/lose mindset and be thinking “me” only. To increase your consideration . . .

  • Wait to speak until several others have shared their ideas.
  • Ask for input before sharing your thoughts.
  • Turn off all devices and make eye contact when talking with people.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Try going with someone else’s decision (in a low-risk situation first) to see how it affects the relationship.

     5. If you’re an overachiever and want a fast track to win-win thinking, try this:

  • Schedule one-on-one time with the people important to you at work and home.
  • Share the scores you gave yourself for courage and consideration.
  • Ask for feedback on how you could increase your courage or consideration.
  • Listen without interrupting, then thank them for the feedback.
  • Act on the feedback you feel is most helpful, and then schedule follow up time with them to assess your progress.

Todd Davis is EVP, Chief People Officer for FranklinCovey and author of Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work

The Most Important Part of Your Sales Phone Conversation May Not Be What You Think

The Most Important Part of Your Sales Phone Conversation May Not Be What You Think

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Words can only say so much – it is the way in which your words are spoken that matter, especially over the phone.

The tone of someone’s voice tells us a lot about them. For example, we can tell if they are having a good day or a bad day and if they are annoyed or happy to be a part of the conversation. More or less, we all do this type of assessment on a daily Words can only say so much – it is the way in which your words are said that really matter, especially over the phone.

Albert Mehrabain’s original experiments dealing with communication of feelings and attitudes found that people use three resources to determine likeability and trust: Body Language, Words, and Tone.

Now, the exact percentages vary depending on the research, but the trend is the same:
Body language dominates communication of attitudes in a face-to-face environment. Tone plays a large role also, and surprisingly, words mean very little when assessing someone’s likeability and trust.

The resources change in a telephone communication – you do not have the luxury of visual input, so tone skyrockets to become the key factor in our decision to like and trust the person on the other end of the line. Words gain some importance, but not enough to become the deciding factor. The tone of someone’s voice is what we use to decide if we like them, if we trust them, and ultimately if we want to do business with them.
Even the simple greeting used when answering the phone, which are the first words that your caller will hear, can have vastly different implications all dependent on the tone of your voice.

“Hello, thank you for calling Company XYZ. My name is Sarah. How may I help you today?”
Imagine hearing someone answering the phone this way with a cheery tone, smiling as they speak. You want to talk to this person. Now imagine hearing the same greeting from someone who sounds blasé, like they just woke up. You’d probably think that despite their words, they actually couldn’t really care less about helping you. It’s not what they said, it is how they said it!
The difference? Their tone.
You have to use the right words, but the way those words are spoken truly makes all the difference. Tone is the determining factor when your potential customers judge your company for likeability and trust during that first phone call and researchers have noticed.

November 23, 2017 by Rebecca Brown (Call Source.com)