5 Ways to Avoid the Biggest Bottleneck In Your Business
Author: Paul Speziale
What's the biggest bottleneck in any business? Besides sales, this often overlooked feature of any business could be causing you lost sales and your long term success. Use these tips to reduce the most costly (and annoying) bottleneck with businesses today.
Imagine for a moment that you have just spent a small fortune on marketing...you have a sale that you want to advertise and you have produced full page ads in the local newspaper setting you back $20,000 a day, sent out thousands of flyers, produced signs, sent out press releases and you even went on TV.
The big day arrives and a flood of people enter your store. You look at the people clawing at each other to buy your goods, while you eagerly wait to count your profits.
Then something bad happens...
A cashier decides to take a break to talk to his girlfriend on his cell phone. She breaks up with him on the phone and he comes back 15 minutes later, right into the heat of the crowded store and decides he doesn't care about anything anymore. He starts being rude to the customers, taking his time and tells some off.
Disgusted, your customers leave the store, and the profits you were counting in your head have vanished into the smoke they came from.
So what happened?
What happened is what many believe is one of the biggest problems of any business today...the people that interface to your customers.
Usually they are the most underpaid, under trained people in your business. And they are relied upon to handle all customer inquiries, complaints, joys and questions and basically close the sales.
It's not just in retail either. Any business that has prospects phoning and asking questions or placing orders has this problem.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a story from a disgruntled long-time customer of some business that was driven away because the customer service person couldn't accommodate their request, I would have lots of nickels.
And you know, the people that represent your business, the ones that interface with the customer everyday ARE your business to the customer. If they are mad because of some "7 dollar an hour can't wait to get home to go drinking" customer service representative, they will lump you and your product right along into their mental state. If you receive a brick in the mail one day, you may be having this problem.
So how do you avoid this bottleneck?
First, isolate who is having any contact whatsoever with your customers.
1. Who's answering your phones?
2. Who's on the floor greeting your customers?
3. Who's answering the emails?
4. Who is responding to your white mail?
5. Who is placing the order?
6. Who is making the sales?
Second, you need to be constantly educating them and training them as to your specials, new products, etc. Make sure you have a networked computer system to take notes for telephone operators. There is nothing more frustrating then phoning one customer service person, only to have to retell your problem to another one 10 minutes later after they mistakenly hang up on you.
Third, educate them on how to deal with people. Once they know why certain customers behave the way they do, they might not be rude with them or they can adapt their behaviour to build rapport and guarantee the sale.
Fourth, give them a little negotiating power. Some customers will try to negotiate. Give the person some room with that just to appease the customer's desire to "get a good deal". Often people will warm up when there is some negotiating room.
Lastly, perhaps give the people that deal with customers a spiff, or small reward for their excellent people handling skills (in other words, closing the sale). It doesn't have to be money. In fact, chances are it will be material things, not money. Find out what your employees want the most. It can be an IPOD, or a trip, your own products, or something to encourage them that maybe they should make an effort with your customers.
About the author: Paul Speziale is a direct marketing consultant / entrepreneur based out of Toronto, Ontario. He has served all industries from manufacturers to retailers, from entrepreneurs to professionals. Besides helping clients, he is working on his own projects. He also volunteers his time for several worthy causes both local and global. You can reach him at: http://www.AnelloSolutions.com: Growing Your Business Through Low-Risk, Optimized and Results Based Marketing
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