The customer is king & feedback is a gift


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This job would be great if it weren’t for the darn customers! When I hear salespeople complaining about customers, I have been known to use this line sarcastically in an effort to get them to realize what’s important: the customer pays the bills! And without customers, sales professionals and companies could not survive so it’s critical that we always remember that.

To this end, our customers sometimes have feedback for us that we may not be excited to hear or respond to. But the reality is that this feedback is not only critical to our customer relationships but also can help us make improvements – in our sales process, in our products and in our organizations.

That’s why I feel it’s important to share two polar opposite examples of how companies respond to customer feedback.

In the first case, I was evaluating publishing companies for an upcoming book and, at the same time my nephew had just self-published. He was having a small issue with the publisher @outskirtspress so I offered to reach out to the CEO to see if we could quickly solve it. I read the CEO’s bio that claimed that he built the company in order to make it easy for people to publish and highlighted this in an email to let him know that we were not experiencing this. As the head of this publishing company, I thought he would want to get this feedback and figure out how to turn things around. However, the CEO ignored my email so I then followed up with a call to see if we could solve this issue.  When I asked to speak with him, I was told, “He DOESN’T speak to customers.” Really?  In my 25 years of experience, I have never heard of a CEO that didn’t want to speak to customers. I asked for the COO and was told that she does not really take calls either. Finally, I was able to leave a message for the EVP but received no call back, no email and no feedback. This is truly one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever had.

I would like to contrast this experience with a recent one I had with @sullivantire and CEO Paul Sullivan. When I had an issue at one of his stores and asked to speak to him directly, Paul took the call, listened to the situation and apologized for the inconvenience. He then asked his Regional Sales Manager to contact me to fix the issue and called me back personally two days later to see if I was satisfied. What a fantastic service experience and what a way to build customer loyalty!

The moral of the story is this: feedback is a GIFT for any sales person or company. When customers are willing to take the time to ask for your ear based on their experience you should listen and embrace it. The best sales people are advocates for their client while still recognizing that the company needs to make a profit. In sales, we need to ask our best customers what we do well and what we could do better and not just after a loss but regularly to ensure we exceed expectations and delight them.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Haller
Tim Haller has over 25 years of sales and sales management experience. He has delivered training and consulting to Fortune 100 clients across a variety of industries, including technology, business services, travel/leisure and biotechnology. Tim has trained hundreds of sales professionals to close business through the use of effective sales prospecting, negotiation, and closing techniques.


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