Do you know that trick where the magician saws a woman in half? Well, we recently worked with a medical devices company—one that makes really exceptional products—and they managed to perform the same trick.

Not with a magician, but with their sales force. The company had sales teams in several different locations around the country, and their responsibilities weren’t just divided along product lines, but along a woman’s waist. Half the sales team was responsible for products that benefitted a woman above the waist. The other half was responsible for anything below the waist.

Problem was, some of their products worked both above and below the waist. So the company’s customers were constantly dealing with multiple sales reps anytime they had an issue with a product or a question. In other words: The products may have worked magic, but the service didn’t work at all.

Here are a few things we told that company, and tell a lot of our clients who are having issues with their service.

Spend more money on sales training.

The medical devices company we worked with—the one sawing women in half—only offered cursory sales training to its reps. A lot of companies do that. The thinking seems to be that service can be learned by trial and error: Fail to please a customer once and then you’ll learn how to make them happy the next time. That’s looking for trouble. Spend more money on sales training upfront, and you’ll lose fewer customers—and less money—in the long run.

Enroll everyone in the importance of serving the customer. In other words: Be human.

We talk about “enrollment” a lot in our work. To us, the word means having people voluntarily commit to a new future. The heart of this enrollment process is simple: If you want other people to care about what you care about, then you have to care about what they care about.

This is the heart of service, too. Be interested in other people. Have their interests at heart—not just your own. Great products may sell themselves once. But great service will keep your customers coming back.

Do what you say you are going to do. Then communicate that you did it.

Good service is about making promises that you can keep and that you do keep. That much is probably obvious. What’s less obvious is making sure that your customer knows you’ve done what you pledged to do for them.

If your customer asks a question and you provide an answer, check back in to make sure it was the answer he or she wanted. If your customer asks for some specific service and you provide it, make sure the service met expectations. Were needs met? Were they left delighted or disappointed?

This is all nothing more than a simple follow-up. But following up can make all the difference in ensuring your service is up to your customers’ expectations.


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