10 Myths THAT Interfere with Optimal Service15 May, 2009 By: Laurel B Sanders imageSource
10 Myths THAT Interfere with Optimal Service
After any business has been around for a while, it’s easy to lose sight of why the company got started in the first place. Whether you focus on hardware sales, software solutions, or expanding your services, the reason your company got started was, in part, to address needs
that weren’t sufficiently met by other dealers. Although our companies ultimately exist to make money, we are often shortsighted and doomed to only moderate success — or even failure — if we forget the universal truth of why we exist.
In our rapidly changing world we must embrace change if we want to succeed, yet we must also respect the unchanging principles on which business is built. New technologies provide tools for communication and efficiency that were unimaginable a short time ago. These new-found
efficiencies help us to succeed and improve communication and service, but only when we remember two fundamental truths:
• We exist to serve the customer and his needs.
• People do business with people, not with technology.
Expanding into software and services: it’s a different animal.
VARs and dealers who are expanding from traditional hardware sales into document management software and related services must pay close attention to the types of relationships they have and how they are managed. Software and services provide a great opportunity to expand
your revenue, but the customer relationship becomes more critical than ever.
Often, customers need assurance as they embrace new technologies and ideas. As they gain confidence and experience, they become more curious and expand their visions for what could be achieved, but they still may need your guidance. Ideally, they will mentor you about their
business, and you will become a critical partner in their ability to meet their goals.
It’s worth taking time to assess your perceptions of customer service. These typical myths and reality checks on client relationships will help put you on the path to success as you adventure into new territory.
Myth #1: Customers are happy with your products and services if they continue to buy from you.
Reality check: Don’t assume it’s true. You may be the best choice they’ve found so far, but you may not be what they really want or need. Find out. Can you broaden or adapt your offerings while abiding by your company’s mission? Sales may increase while you boost
your chance of becoming the front-of-mind resource for solutions that you want to be.
Myth #2: Since people want convenience, email is always the best way to stay in touch.
Reality check: Email is convenient for everyone, but don’t let it replace personal contact. The new Web 2.0 social marketing tools that enable interactive conversation verify people’s preference for interaction rather than just one-way conversation. Mix it up.
Myth #3: If you have one good relationship at a customer site, that’s all you need.
Reality check: As you expand into software and services, get acquainted with the IT staff at customer sites. Ask them to share their IT vision with you. This will help ensure the hardware, software, and services you recommend in the short term fit into their
long-term strategic vision.
Myth #4: It’s more important to focus on finding new customers than servicing existing ones.
Reality check: In today’s weakened economy, it’s more important than ever to focus on helping existing customers to remain competitive and stay in business. Anything you can do to help them streamline operations, be more cost efficient, and offer quality service will
make you a valued and in-demand resource. Focus on increasing the usability of your clients’ products (such as fax automation, digital mailrooms, bar code scanning, or process automation based on document capture). You’ll garner loyalty and position yourself strongly for
additional sales as the economy improves.
Myth #5: The manufacturer’s brand is not important in your line of work if you’re a reseller. After all, you’re the provider, not their marketing team.
Reality check: If the brand of the company you are representing is strong, it communicates the compelling difference between that company and its competitors, as well as the feeling your customers can expect when they use their products. Whether the message
communicates power or a more relaxed working environment, understanding the brand puts you in sync with what people expect. Know the company’s brand. Understand what’s expected. Deliver it.
Myth #6: You need to educate clients so they understand more clearly what they really need.
Reality check: You need to understand the client’s perspective on what they really need. Perception is reality, and unless you understand their perceptions, the solutions you recommend will fall on deaf ears.
Myth #7: Direct mail is a waste of money for promoting your products and services, especially since you can inform people via email, e-newsletters, and other free or inexpensive media.
Reality check: Electronic marketing should be a key ingredient in your marketing mix, but not the only one. Statistics show a returning rise in the effectiveness of direct mail, which has a higher cost, but greater visibility and a longer shelf life. Emails too often
are unopened or read and forgotten. Direct mail that complements electronic communications reminds people that they want to check out your products. The longer shelf life means you won’t be forgotten as easily.
Myth #8: You should focus your energies on new prospects while checking from time to time that your current customers are happy.
Reality check: You should focus the majority of your efforts on understanding the changing needs of your existing clients, since your business depends on them, and gradually work on growing your prospect base as time allows. Remember, happy customers are potentially
the strongest marketing tool you have in your toolkit.
Myth #9: After you sell your products and services, you only need to check in periodically to ensure your customer is satisfied.
Reality check: It pays to go beyond offering the latest and greatest products and services. If you understand your client’s larger needs, you may be able to suggest other businesses that can solve challenges you can’t meet, or fill the gaps. When you call and say,
“I’ve been thinking about your problem with X, and I know a reliable person who may be able to help,” they’ll be grateful. You’ll become top of mind, and when their colleagues are searching for the types of products and services you sell, you may be recommended.
Myth #10: Using technical terms and big words will impress your clients and prospects and tell them that you really know your stuff. Then they’re more likely to choose you over your competition.
Reality check: Educate yourself on your customer’s language and technical vocabulary. Learn how to communicate with them on a level they understand and find comfortable. People need to feel confident you understand what you are doing, but no one wants to be
overwhelmed with information they can’t grasp and are reluctant to admit. If you want your customers to decide in favor of your solutions, you need to make them easy to comprehend.
Company progress and ROI from software and services can be substantial, but your customers may need your support as they adapt. Typically, managers discover new possibilities for added efficiencies as their work routines are streamlined. They may also discover challenges, but
rather than pick up the phone and complain or ask for help, they may bicker and be dissatisfied. You have to find ways to cross paths often so you can be aware of developing needs, as well as concerns, and address them. The rewards for doing so are great, both for them and for
In today’s competitive marketplace, with many companies struggling to survive, professional and caring customer service makes you stand out. Become a good listener. Be proactive in recommending ways to help your clients succeed, even if they are beyond what you currently
offer. Speak your customer’s language, and increase your knowledge. Extend a helping hand wherever you can. What goes around comes around. Some day, your reputation for providing exemplary products with unmatched service will be made known, and you will profit.
Laurel Sanders is the director of public relations and communications for Optical Image Technology, makers of the DocFinity® suite of document management and workflow software. For information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.docfinity.com.