Service Samurais – the customer journey

You know those shop assistants lounging over the counter, chewing gum and messaging on their phones, giggling at their own wit and laughing uproariously at the responses said wit evokes and, when you try to get anyone’s attention to assist you with a query, one extracts themself from the countertop as though having merged with the fitting, and then they drift over to you while making last-minute corrections to their message — and then they look blankly at you, pausing their chewing only to inform you that they can’t answer your query, and will have to seek help from one of their colleagues?

Yeah, we’ve all encountered this lifeform.

This attitude is the death-knell to any brand. This is the person that will send customers fleeing from you as though you’d caught a virus…

It’s of little importance how much effort you put into a sales campaign if the very people you are relying on to implement your strategy have little to no interest in the campaign’s outcome, or the part they may play in it.

And, while it’s the sales professional that is the first interface with your client, staff across the board, whether in-the-flesh or online, are the keepers of your reputation.

Let that sink in.

It is these people who will determine your bottom line, your conversion funnel and ultimately, your legacy. You don’t want Service Slobs, you want Service Samurais!

The caution is to be very selective about whom is employed in your Customer Corp as it is not only your product or service that the customer is purchasing, but to also be a part of your journey, to identify with you and what you offer and stand for, to ultimately be an enthusiastic representative for your brand with ongoing purchases and spontaneous recommendations.

However, this too is the role of the employee, namely, to be a brand representative. They need to be so immersed in the brand that they can be a walking encyclopaedia (okay, Wikipedia, goddit!) of knowledge and information, able to answer any enquiries put to them, whether on or off duty — preferably without attitude, but plenty fortitude.

As representatives for your brand, employees are on Reputation Patrol 24/7, and the salesforce particularly, is void of dedicated working hours as they are part of a team that is continually expected to perform in an increasingly competitive marketplace, led by the sales manager, whose role is to drive the team to target-blasting magnificence, quarter-on-quarter.

A sales job doesn’t end when they switch their laptops off in the office and it doesn’t end while they quaff a cold beer with the mates after work.

A poorly functioning salesforce will ultimately drain any profitability and in the long term, dent or ruin a company’s reputation and brand.

So, who to choose to represent your company for positions that are both customer and non-customer facing? Who will you take into battle?

Staff selection 101

The first consideration is the candidate’s cultural fit. Do they look and walk the part, do they have the right attitude and character traits to represent your company, be there when needed, to heed the call of Customer Excellence? Would you be proud that they represent your brand?

The idea is to choose people who will blend and meld well with your team, therefore, the decision ultimately takes more than merely their CV into consideration. ‘Soft skills’ including time management, adaptability, communication, creative thinking, dependability, work ethic, teamwork, positivity, self-motivating, problem-solving, critical thinking and good conflict resolution skills all add value to a cohesive staff unit.

While these characteristics are not possible in every person, a good combination will make for a successful, dependable Company Corp.

Here is a list of the most important soft skills employers generally look for.

So, the Dream Team has been gathered from all corners of the globe, expectations are high — as well as deliverables and now you need to train them up to become Service Samurais. This is a ‘No-slacking-off Zone’, this is an area where all those skills that have been assessed will now come into play.

But first they have to be trained about your product, your ‘baby’, your services and also, your promised deliverables to the customers, your company values and ethics.

When you have made your selection, make sure that you keep them updated on exactly what it is you expect from them — and what they can expect from you, no room for AWOL behaviour here!

Staff training 101

A good start is training the relevant staff around a sound CRM platform. Through analytics they will develop a holistic overview of the customers, which will enhance the one-on-one connection necessary to gain and maintain loyal consumers and, obviously, their buying power. According to impactcommunicationsinc.com, 71% of customers base their purchasing decisions on trust and authenticity.

While every person in the company impacts on the customer journey, from the packer to the storeman to the forklift driver and admin clerk, those staff that are directly responsible for customer conversion need to know their stuff about their audience. They need the correct intel.

It is paramount therefore that the sales and sales support employees thoroughly understand their audience’s desires and requirements, their habits, likes, dislikes and pain points, (without torture involved) in tandem with being able to effectively communicate the advantages of the products and services they represent. This way they will build genuine rapport with the customer and grow their loyalty, while adding value to the company. An interesting note is that an excellent communicator with extraordinary people skills adds strength to any company, no matter where in the chain of command they may reside.

While a good sales professional learns how to recognise what of their sales pitch is not yielding the anticipated returns, not all salespeople do. Many follow the ‘bug and windscreen’ approach, namely doing the same old, same old and expecting a different outcome, or throwing everything at the customer, hoping something will stick, kinda like shrapnel? The sales force needs to be trained to meet unexpected situations, learning to think out of the box. The correct training provides the necessary skills to perform their jobs more efficiently and to correct any deficiencies.

It makes sense therefor to ensure that some type of review procedure is in place to get salespeople back on track and in a space where management can pinpoint strategies and tools that are not effective and advise and train accordingly.

Sales training that builds in fun will make the dissemination of information more easily absorbed and, a happy salesperson is a customer magnet! If they can include pleasure into their client interactions the purchase will more likely occur as a win-win situation, allowing the client to walk away feeling understood and the salesperson knowing that they are that much closer to achieving their target.

Good, consistent, thorough staff training is key to the success of the company overall and should be provided regularly. It will give the company a competitive edge over the competition by empowering the Service Samurais with the right tools to keep everyone on track, and the company will have a ready-to-go (non-gum-chewing) sales army waiting to reel in those customers, with a smile on their faces and pride in the role they play in the company’s success and its long-term profitability.

Now, spit out that gum and grab your Samurai sword, we have a battle to win!

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