Charlie's continued journey towards the perfect balance between service and sales continues as we explore the next section of our exclusive serialisation of the excellent industry focussed book Beyond Great Service.
If you're new to this series then you can catch up on the story so far by clicking here
Last time Charlie put the preliminary plan together to implement the strategy. First stop, discuss it with the technicians and get them on board. Here we find Charlie as he presents the concept to the technicians.
It’s Charlie’s turn again and he turns on the projector. As it is warming up he gives a brief introduction. “Last week we talked about the idea of getting you guys to be more proactive in promoting our services to our customers, and many of you provided me with your opinions. I think you made it pretty clear that you didn’t see your role as selling and, when you do bring opportunities forward, we don’t have the systems in place to consistently support you.” If Charlie expected a room full of nods, he was disappointed. No one moved or showed any change in expression.
Charlie continued, “I have to tell you that your feedback put me back on my heels a bit. I was a little disappointed frankly, because I felt that you were in the best position to point out to our customers what we can do for them. Fortunately, Ken was able to re-walk me through the meeting and your comments, and help me understand what you were saying. And am I glad he did. I would like you to know that based on our meeting last week, I have come full circle. I don’t want you to sell our services to our customers. That was a mistake!”
Now there was movement in the room. Charlie noticed the techs looking at each other and the shuffling and murmurs. Angus speaks up. “Let me get this right, Charlie. Are you saying that you don’t want us to talk to our customers about our products and services?”
[quote float="left"]If you took your car in for an oil change and the mechanic noticed that your brakes needed replacement, would you not expect him to advise you of the fact and recommend they be changed?“Good question, Angus. No, I am not saying that you shouldn’t talk to our customers about our products and services. In fact, you should, so long as you feel it is in the customer’s interest. What I am saying is that I don’t want you to act as salespeople for the company.”
“It makes sense to me, but what is the difference between what you have outlined here and selling?”
“Another good question, Angus. There is a difference and, although it is very subtle, it is critically important. If you took your car in for an oil change and the mechanic noticed that your brakes needed replacement, would you not expect him to advise you of the fact and recommend they be changed?”
“Would you consider it selling?”
“No, not really.”
“Because it is an important part of the service he provides. If he did not tell me, I don’t think he would be doing his job. In fact, I think he has an obligation to tell me. It’s a safety issue.”
“Okay. How about this? Let’s say what he observes is not a ‘safety issue’, but instead simply an action you can take that will save you money. Perhaps your particular model of car could be modified to improve your gas mileage by at least 10%. And the cost of the modification could be paid for through savings at the pump in just 9 months. Let’s say that he points this out and recommends that you do the modification. Let’s also assume that if he didn’t tell you about the modification, you would be none the wiser, and your car or your safety would not be at all compromised. Would your answer change? Would his recommendation be selling?”
[quote float="right"]The service we provide is using our knowledge and expertise to make recommendations to help the customer achieve their goals. It’s like offering them our heads as well as our hands“That’s a harder one, Charlie. I guess strictly speaking it is selling in a way, but I don’t honestly think it is,” responds Angus. “So long as what he is telling me was not a load of bull to pry me away from my wallet, I’d say it was an essential part of the service to let me know about the modification. I could always say no.”
“So would you call that selling?” asked Charlie.
“In a way it is and in a way it isn’t. Like selling, he is talking to me about the modification and trying to convince me to take his advice, but he is doing it with the best of intentions. If I had to choose, it is more like a service and an important one at that.”
“Thanks Angus. That’s what I am talking about. We provide a service to the customer any time we use our know-how to help them be better. What I am suggesting should not be mistaken as a ‘service-of-the-month club’. The service we provide is using our knowledge and expertise to make recommendations to help the customer achieve their goals. It’s like offering them our heads as well as our hands. Does that make sense?”
Thinking about your business:
- Have you clearly communicated why proactive recommendations by your technicians are an integral part of the service they provide?
- Do your actions support your words[/unordered_list]
Next time we will see how Charlie presents the strategy to his team.
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