Have you ever dealt with a customer who didn’t really understand your issues or how to help you come up with a resolution? Putting yourself in their position, or at least listening and trying to understand the issues from their perspective, can often lead to a level of trust. Just listening could make them your most trusted ally.
In my position at Whip Mix as Professional Relations and Institutional Sales Manager, I have to consider how I can help over 75 dental school customers who often have very different needs. I am fortunate because I lead a team of highly dedicated professionals who work extremely hard at understanding our customers’ needs. Their appreciation of what our customers require is critical to our company’s success. I would like to share with you several key factors which help guide how we maintain our level of success.
Consider Customer needs: They’ll be grateful for it.
Every customer that you come into contact with will have a need that is unique to them. Your ability “feel their pain” will go a long way to let them know you understand where they are coming from. Being able to take care of your customer’s needs means having systems in place to maximize their satisfaction with your business. Customer satisfaction should be a prime consideration for every business – your sales and profitability depends on keeping your customers happy.
Listen: It is an important skill in the communication process.
When we talk with a customer, we may think we’ve heard this before and the solution may seem obvious. However, that type of thinking could lead to an unsatisfied customer and a potential opportunity for your competitors. I have heard many times from customers who have told me their previous representative just didn’t listen and therefore they lost confidence in the rep’s ability to find a solution. Place a high priority on learning how to listen effectively. If the listening process breaks down, communication will fail.
Don’t leave the customer hanging.
One of the most important elements of a company’s success is their understanding of the importance of a quick resolution to an issue or inquiry. You are probably familiar with the term “in a timely manner”. Most companies have a policy that lays out a timeframe for how quick their employees should respond to telephone messages and emails. Just like any customer, if I leave a message I expect to receive a timely response. People want a fast reply. The speed in which you respond to them will show how much you care about them.
Of course, we would like to be all things to all customers. Realistically, you have to have the reliable manufacturing capability and support of the company as a whole before making any promises. As mentioned earlier, I have over 75 customers, many of whom are asking for customization of equipment and materials that we manufacturer. With the influx of competition both foreign and domestic, it makes it more difficult to say no to their request. Your reputation and that of your company is built on what you promises make. After all, our success depends on our ability to get the new business. Know your limitations.
In summary, being up front and honest with your customers creates an environment of trust and a feeling that we are on the same page. In the end, think about how you would want to be treated, then treat your customer the same. You will not only build trust, you will likely build a relationship that may last a lifetime — and perhaps a new friend along the way.