Listening to the Customer, Customer Service
What is customer service? In the simplest terms it is putting the customers needs above the company pocketbook for a first sale. You want people to be repeat customers, the best way to do this is give them what they want, not what you think they need.
"Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers." Ross Perot
What has happened to the art of listening to the customer?
This is speaking to the companies we have been dealing with for the past few months as we remodel our bathroom. It is also speaking to companies we will be dealing with in the future.
Our question is: What can you learn from mistakes?
All the parts for our bathroom remodel are being bought by a person in a wheelchair and two women (who are often on the phone with me asking questions before a purchase). We are wondering if everyone is being treated as if they don't matter. In our case does it have something to do with the sales people just not paying attention to people who would not be considered “normal” customers.
Do you think sales people would have listened to him?
Why are we being sold things we don't want or need?
Our remodeling project includes replacing all the plumbing, the floor, four walls and the ceiling.
Even though a wheelchair is now a necessary part of my life this was not always so. Three years of apprenticeship then more learned later from coworkers in the construction industry for the following fifteen years should make me an expert in the field. This education and experience was enough for me to own my own business doing remodeling and repairs on other peoples houses. Years in a partnership doing commercial remodeling and new home construction added to this expertise. In every case the work was being done to the customers satisfaction.
Even so on this job, every day it seems like something is being returned. It's not that we are asking for the wrong parts. It's just that we keep being told that what we need isn’t what we are asking for or they don‘t make that part anymore. A few times just changing sales people was all that was needed to get the right part. We have found every part we originally asked for somewhere, its just taken a lot more shopping than was ever anticipated.
What companies can gain by listening to the customer
Many people get a sense of satisfaction when they do things themselves. This in our case was true in the end. It would have been less aggravating if the sales people we came in contact with had treated us like we mattered. If more of them had listened to the customer (us) we would have been satisfied.
As a sales person you actually have no idea what future business a customer will bring. Had the ones we worked with taken the time to listen our almost total home renovation supplies could have been ordered from the company they represented.
What ever happened to the customer is always right?
Although it not always possible to give a customer exactly what they ask for there are often alternate products which will work with very little effort. This we found true after doing a lot of searching. If the sales people would have listened and paid attention to what was being asked for in our estimation there would have been a lot less that needed to be returned. If a salesperson doesn't have the required knowledge why can't they ask questions. If they just don't care doesn't in make sense to pass a customer on to someone who does have the answer?
We wanted this bathroom done before we started an addition which will almost double the square footage of the house. As of now we have a list of sales people and one company we will avoid in the future. This is going to cost commission sales people and business owners money.They won’t be getting our business.
It would be beneficial for business owners to coach their sales people on listening to the customer. Why is it a problem to pass a customer on to someone more knowledgeable? There might be reasons why “something new and improved” won’t work even if its just the preference of the customer. In our case we wanted to mix old with new to give the bathroom a distinctive look. Thanks to a few people who did listen it was not only possible it ended up exactly as envisioned. The job was completed to our satisfaction.
Do you sometimes feel pressured into buying something other than what you asked for?
© 2011 Dennis Thorgesen