Great customer care does not need to be for free.


What is customer care? What is great customer care? I live in Norway and have worked as a salesman in two of the biggest electronics chains for six years, I have worked as a sales person most of my life. Customer care is about listening to the customer; I guess we can all agree on that? When you are finished listening then what? There are different kinds of people and to be able to sell, you need to talk to them. Do not say what you have learned; speak about what the customer is interested in. If your customer as a type is talking about a product and saying stuff like: “This one is cool” or “I heard this one is very high rated in some test” – Then you have a customer that is more about an image. It will be easier to sell to him if you can say stuff like this: “I sold this TV last week to one, and he told me it looks great in the living room, even his neighbor commented that it was cool” – If he then buy it, it is because other would praise his choice. The next type is more detail oriented. She would ask about stuff that you find in the manual. You can hear that she might be interested in details. The more details you can provide the more comfort the customer will have. Do not talk about details to Mr. Image that will most likely bore him.

It is all about meeting and exceeding expectations.
The customers expect different things. Some prefer to get the coolest product, some want the most advanced one, and some want the most lasting product since they after all is replacing the TV they bought in the early 1970’s. The trick here is that you can’t talk to these people in the same matter. You have to talk to them on their level, about what they are interested in. Just ask them about current products and needs, and you will soon discover who is who.

I worked as a store manager for a couple of years, and when I first started there the company did deliver the goods at no charge at all, as far as up to 50-60 km (31-37 miles) away. This cost money and took time. Excellent service but it does not give a profit. The company had one employee and he worked like a dog, and still they did not sell for more than $400.000 a year. And almost all of the customers expected to get the goods delivered even if they drove to the store themselves. After selling a deep freezer to a lady of the kind that want everlasting products and promised to bring the new and pick up the old. I decided to take $60 for all future deliveries. The old was from the 1950’s and we needed six men to carry it up narrow basement stairs. I swear I could have killed someone that night. My co-worker was furious when I said that we need to charge money for deliveries. And $60 was unheard of. Well let’s try it I said. The first paid delivery came the very next day. We delivered the product and as we left I put a box of chocolate into the refrigerator with a hand written note saying thank you for buying at our store. The customer was thrilled when they found out. She called in the very next day to say thank you for the box of chocolate. Well she paid $60 for it, giving me earnings of $52 on this box. The next year we sold for $800.000 and increased the profit with 3 %, and this with almost no marketing. Unfortunately this store was a sinking ship, as we needed to have at least $1.000.000 with even a little more profit to survive. The investors ran out of money and the store closed down. I am sure that one more year would generate 1.5M, our customers where happy but too few. I do not remember the exact figures here, but we needed to get close to 3 times as much income, and only managed to double it. The point is that great customer care does not always need to be free.

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