We often hear that 'business was great this year'. Profits were good because we had excellent sales. The sales guys have done a great job. Advertising hit bull's eye. Our marketing strategy was perfect. All this might be true to a considerable extent but one needs to ask if it was only sales or promotions that helped in getting the profits up this year.
It is undoubtedly true that sales bring in business. They are the ones to burn their soles prospecting for customers. They are responsible to introduce a product or service to a customer. It is sales who do all the groundwork and coordinate relentlessly in matching customer expectations to company's offerings. Many a times they have to negotiate prices to steal a sale. They have to be persuasive enough to make a customer actually feel convinced that 'Yes I have found the right place for my requirement'. They showcase the company to customers and lure them to the establishment. Sales have targets to meet. Yes, business is good because sale was good this year. But having said that, while sales bring in business do they increase business?
For instance, Bob is a successful sales manager in Supreme Trading. His team is an aggressive bunch of salesmen who always manage to convert an enquiry to sale. His team holds the sales achievement record in the company. They are the blue-eyed boys in the company. And why not, with a good product and a great sales team, it has to be excellent. However on closer scrutiny, it was found that many customers were one-timers. Though there were some who came again, it stopped there. Customer survey analysis showed that the product was top notch, pricing was acceptable but service was appalling. Further investigation and department meetings revealed to management that employees lacked the drive to perform better. Even the well experienced and qualified did not show enthusiasm in their work. Indifference and cynicism, delays and absenteeism all led to service shortfalls. Sales were heaping in business but service was not reaping them. The end result - customers were not the happiest lot.
While sales bring in business, service plays a very important role in sustaining that business. Any business grows when a sale is linked to satisfaction. And satisfaction is derived from a combination of both, a good product and excellent service. Anything otherwise results in what we may call a stunted growth.
Service reinforces sales effort. Service is what keeps up commitments. While sales have built customers expectations, service has to maintain the excitement. While customers walk in smiling, service has the responsibility of sending him not smiling but delighted. The actions of service determine customer repeats and referrals. For, only excellent service confirms customer decisions to repeat. The quality of service is reflected in customer references. Your present customer now takes the role of sales representative. It is now more important than ever before to keep up to his tall claims. Any shortfall in service would not only lead your new customer turning skeptical but he could halt the reference chain. Maybe he could even influence the customer, who initially referred, to think again. A good sale backed with poor service would not go a long way, as any customer would think twice before returning.
Just as sales could mean anything from a sale or salesman to an advertisement or a marketing strategy, service could take the form of operations, accounts, logistics, after sales or the salesman himself. Service could mean your Janitor. Think about it. It is each and every one of those departments, more so each and every individual directly or indirectly involved in meeting customer expectations and exceeding it.
The General Manager of Supreme Trading while maintaining the spirit of his sales force, worked in consultation to improve the morale of all his other staff. This meant understanding customer requirements and realizing the importance of service in business. It involved training employees at all levels. Training managers in the art of motivation. Understanding problems of the various departments. Working on meeting them. Reviewing schedules and on time performance. It was basically a conscious exercise in recognizing all employees and their functions. What they did, how they did, how could it have been done better, how to maintain interest and zest to do better, how are customers responding to these changes were some issues that were studied and worked on. Support systems were upgraded to help render better service. Though a long drawn process and an uphill task, it worked wonders over a period of time for sales figures looked better than ever before. This was because sales as usual did a great job, product matched customer expectations but to top it all, good service started to delight customers. Obviously one-timers turned repeat and satisfied customers went buzzing and improving referrals.
Yes, they were now on the road where sales heaps and service reaps.
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