Question: I lead a six-person sales department. The issue I’m struggling with is customer care. My major role is to drive accounts into our company. To do that, I spend a lot of time connecting with contacts and developing relationships. Once an account has come on board, most of the interaction comes through customer service. The account managers who work with customers generally do a good job. My concern is that we simply are not interacting with our customers enough. For instance, I might bump into a customer contact at a trade show, having not spoken with him or her in a year or more. At best, the account managers might have had a couple of check-ins during that time period. I’m never sure what I’m going to hear. Have we been doing a good job? Most of the time, I’m not sure because I don’t interact with the account managers unless there is a problem. If I don’t hear anything I’m assuming everything is fine, but I’m never really sure. I know we’ve lost some business to the competition because they emphasize face-to-face interaction. Last year was a really good year and 2007 is shaping up to be even better. We are bringing in more business every month. This only makes me think more about how we are going to provide good customer care to these accounts. Any suggestions?
Answer: As I read your question, I immediately made the connection between “people practices” on the inside and “customer practices” on the outside. From my way of looking at it, outstanding service is not something that “just happens.” Rather, expectations have to be set, behavior relative to those expectations must be monitored, feedback must be offered, and fine-tuning adjustments must be made, over time.
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