In the last couple of weeks I have purchased several major items and services. I consider myself to be a pretty savvy purchaser but I fell foul of inaccurate information given to me by some of the people I bought items from. That got me thinking about customer satisfaction, repeat business, word-of-mouth praise or criticism, complaints-handling and a whole host of other issues that can result from inaccurate representations.
Count the cost
There are several costs that can be involved in relaying inaccurate information to a client or customer. Here’s a list I’ve come up with but there could well be more:
- You could lose the sale
- You could have your business “bad-mouthed” by the customer and this could be in person and on the internet. Who knows how influential they are and how wide their circle is?
- You could make the sale and then have a dissatisfied customer which could then cost you time and possibly money in complaints-handling, a law suit, a consumer affairs formal investigation as well as being “bad-mouthed” (see No: 2)
- You could lose future sales from your client because they no longer trust you.
- You could lose referral business.
It seems to me that moral questions aside (and personally I think these are the most important) it is a very risky and potentially expensive business to give inaccurate information to your clients.
How to overcome this
Whenever we write something we need to ensure that our descriptions of our products and services are accurate, clear and not open to interpretation. Hiring a professional copywriter can assist you here. However that’s not the only way. If you can’t afford a copywriter then you really need to get several people of differing backgrounds to read your sales pitch and see if they understand what you intended to convey.
In addition to this you need to ensure that your sales staff have all the information at their fingertips. They should be trained NOT TO GUESS. If a customer asks a question they are not sure of then the response should be “I’m not sure but I’ll find out for you”. If you bring in new products, warranties or whatever then you need to train your staff and give them the material they need to answer all questions honestly and accurately.
Most of us are doing the best we can
Most business owners and sales people are honest. We do the best we can. But it seems to me we need to ensure that our clients thoroughly understand what we are going to do for them before we do it. Misunderstandings happen in all human relationships and small ones can be apologised for, made up for in some way and generally smoothed over but serious ones can ruin your business.
Turning a complaint into a triumph
It is possible to turn a complaint into a triumph by the way you handle the complaint. I’ll be blogging about this soon….