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Plan to convert complaints from client into sales

Covert a bad customer experience into a sale by going beyond accepting responsibility and offering potential sales alternatives. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Covert a bad customer experience into a sale by going beyond accepting responsibility and offering potential sales alternatives. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Covert a bad customer experience into a sale by going beyond accepting responsibility and offering potential sales alternatives.

This is especially relevant to office based customer facing staff. A fire-breathing customer, incensed by how he has been mishandled, is a situation best avoided, but, unfortunately, still happens.

The typical seller’s reaction is to assume the worst-he will leave us; we are at his mercy now; it’s his fault. Instead of being frozen into resignation, these thoughts should instead trigger a solution that will not only appease the customer, but in addition, make a sale.

For instance, the impeccable customer’s second instalment cheque for his vehicle insurance bounces because of insufficient funds.

The finance department e-mails the customer coldly stating, “kindly see attached returned cheque for your action. Arrange for top up of Sh950 being bank charges over and above this premium.”

The infuriated customer’s response indicates that the cheque should not have been banked in the first place and this was already mutually agreed upon with the seller. So too, a future date when to bank it.

It turns out, as is common in many organisations, that the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.

The person banking the cheque had not been informed not to by the person who gave the assurance or he simply forgot.

Irrespective of the reasons though, this error by the seller has now resulted in bounced cheque charges for Sh2,400 to the buyer. The situation is now at a stalemate.

Now, traditional selling may have finance state; “It is still his fault. We’re not in the business of holding cheques to be banked at the customers’ convenience; they should plan their finances properly.

His costs are his business and if he doesn’t replace the cheque plus our Sh950, we shall cancel the insurance.”

And on the surface finance is right. In fact, it’s covered somewhere in the small print the buyer assented to.

And the buyer may just acquiesce because the inconvenience of seeking a fresh insurance right away is not worth it.

However, with this action the customer is unlikely to refer anyone else to the seller and less likely to renew the insurance with him.

These are potential lost sales. Modern selling takes a different approach.

Granted, it may not be within the finance department jurisdiction to give an immediate Sh2,400 discount on the replacement cheque because it may mean moving several other parts; however, it is possible for finance to offer a credit note (discount) on the renewal premium several months away.

This action could easily kill two birds with one stone. Appease the customer and guarantee a future sale.

Notice that this calls for seeing the customer beyond the immediate situation to the potential future sales. It also calls for organisations to empower their customer facing staff to making such decisions.

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