“If you want something done – do it yourself”  There is an element of truth behind this statement and some may argue even method in its madness.  In the day and age where there is an app for almost everything are we becoming lost to technology and dare I say it – laziness?

Through making things easier for ourselves have we succeeded at actually making some things more difficult and time consuming?  I say yes and here is a great example, one that I am sure many of you will be able to relate to.

One of my biggest gripes is having to phone large companies and organisations, the bank being one and the other being the one that goes by the dreaded acronym, HMRC, purely because I can almost never get to speak to someone straight away.  It’s all “press one for blah blah blah, press two for la-dee-da- and press three for something entirely unrelated to the industry”.  And if you don’t have to press anything then you have to say your name, age and grandmother’s shoe size in the kind of enunciating tone you use with a four year old until the super clever recorded recording message at the end of the line stops saying “sorry I didn’t quite get that” and realises why or partly why you are calling and endeavours to put you through to an operator, provided they are not all busy of course!  Then you’re asked to hold. I tell you, I can now recite ‘Greensleeves’ on almost any object capable of making sound.

Having got this far, some of you may be thinking that this entry should come under the banner of customer service rather than marketing but in the grand scheme of things this is how it all begins – marketing yourself and your business.

Hopefully you will agree that what I have just described is an annoying scenario and all too frequent. And before you all rally behind me in true cameradic fashion waving placards emblazoned with my newly coined phrase ‘call time on call centre’ lets look at how some back to basic marketing can improve a caller’s experience.

What did we do in the old days before online ordering or click and collect?? We picked up the phone or visited the shop ourselves for a little bit of one-to-one customer-seller action.  Your advisers are your lifeblood and an extremely effective marketing tool capable of moulding and shaping your business and sales.

In any typical sales telephone conversation you have at least three opportunities to sell besides other things which include product development, raising brand profile, customer retention, customer acquisition, word of mouth marketing and up-selling or link selling, but you need to invest the time and know what to listen for.

Selling – What was the purpose of the customer’s phone call in the first place?  They obviously got in touch for a reason so you need to make it your duty to give them all the information they need to make an informed decision and purchase.  Product knowledge my dear, product knowledge.

Product development – During your conversation you should be asking customers what they thought of your product and how they would change it. Companies spend a lot of money and time on focus groups when all they really need to do is ask the right questions at the offset.  By engaging your customer you are also involving them and making them feel valued then you have earned the right to listen to their ideas and suggestions and then link these to other items you may have.

Up-selling – By understanding your customers’ needs from your products you can steer them towards others that may be of benefit to them.

Raising brand profile – Every time you interact with your customers you are reinforcing your brand and by doing positive things like offering useful advice or samples you are unwittingly retaining customers.

Customer acquisition – Once you build a rapport with a customer you begin to gain their trust and can suggest to them to recommend you to their friends, especially if you have a loyalty or recommendation scheme.  This word of mouth marketing has a two-fold benefit as not only is the recommendation from a trusted source but it’s free.

You know what they say “talk is cheap”, and in this instance the phrase has a double meaning too,  so there is no point in your next conversation with a customer being one-sided, make the most of your free asset and start selling through your words.

Next week I will look at the other side of customer service marketing and how to remedy a problem.

Marketing – the old fashioned way.

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