Standardization of the service system is the foundation for building an effective business model – be it in GCC or globally. Service standards are a list of mandatory rules for staff, and outlining the procedures for cooperation with clients in a variety of situations. No doubt, it is impossible to reproduce in such list all the possible situations, especially when a salesperson has to face a negative client. However, these guidelines shall have the core data on standards of service and most useful tips on how to behave in most of the situations, including the untypical ones.
There is no necessity to create templates for each non-standard case and make your personnel to be biological robots. On the contrary, if all your sales representatives are saying the same words with the same tone, they will lose their individuality, and the customer can always feel a dishonest attitude. And yet to standardize certain stages of interaction with the client is fairly simple.
The main purpose and the essence of standards of service system
In today's market, where the level of competition has become enormously high, standardization can become your main competitive advantage. Service standards should replicate the basic policies of your company and favorably distinguish you among competing companies. With the current similarity of services and products over GCC and the globe, service standardization system may be the only opportunity to distinguish your company from others in the industry. Even a small difference in service can favorably distinguish your company and attract new customers.
The main object in the development of service standards is to handle all possible stages of interaction with a potential customer. All that concerns the process of working with the client, whether it is the presentation of a new product or delivery of a purchased goods, must be standardized. Furthermore, for simplicity, we will consider some of the traditional standards in the area of sales.
The behavior of salespersons on the trading floor is one of the main stages of interaction with potential customers. The attitude of the customer towards both your product line and the company as a whole depends on the behavior of your sales managers. At first glance it may seem that everything is clear here, and there is are requirements to propose standards and rules of conduct. However, it is not all that simple.
For example, your managers may spend too much time on their personal affairs, or even worse, they are busy all the time talking with colleagues. If you don’t have service standards system prohibiting such behavior, the following principle applies: "what is not forbidden - is possible." The manager of the department will also work with minimum efficiency, as he is forced to run all the time between personnel and control the situation. He will have to explain to each new employee the rules of how to welcome the client, how to talk to him, how to behave, etc.
It is important to understand that what your customer sees and hears in the sales area will definitely affect his attitude toward the company. That's why all this should be clearly regulated and standardized.
Telephone conversation with a customer – this type of communication in sales always remains relevant. Business partners and customers call nowadays quite often. Many further decisions are made based on what they hear on the line, the greeting phrase, and how carefully you listen to them and take down their information. The telephone communication of the company is the direct reflection of their style of work and their manner of conducting the business. For example, if a customer calls and hears an incomprehensible greeting, or even there is the complete absence of such, this tiny point missing in your service standards can seriously damage the image of your company.
The appearance of the sales personnel – this category is also the important aspect of your entire system. The first visual contact with a potential customer will unavoidably affect future cooperation. As for standardization of the sales staff appearance, it is important to consider not only a unified dress code, but also all other aspects of appearance. Hair, manicures, make-up and perfume – all these should also be unified.
The direct sales process deserves the most careful attention, and, accordingly, should be clearly regulated. Typically, the sales procedure involves several steps. Precisely, it can be:
- Initiation of dialogue with the client and beginning of initial contact;
- Identification of consumer motivation and customer needs;
- Presentation of the product or service;
- Working with the possible objections and reasoning on the benefits;
- Closing of the transaction and sale as such.
Experts recommend using a standardized set of specimen situations within your service in GCC or globally or specific phrases so your standards will be clear; this will exclude any other interpretation of the rules. Furthermore, these will be better understood by sales personnel and easily controllable.
You can even create a separate document or a brochure with specific examples of how to behave in unusual situations or how to build a dialogue with a dissatisfied customer. Ideally, each outlined is to be supported by explicit practical examples. If the standards indicate that the manager must identify the customer’s needs, you need to explain how to do it, and what questions need to be asked.
Interaction with a customer who is leaving without buying anything – If it is a person’s first visit to your store, it is unlikely he would immediately make a purchase – this is normal. It is important to standardize the behavior of salespersons with such clients. If your staff interacts with them improperly, the customer may just walk away and never come back to you. It is much more effective to encourage such customers to visit you again and make a presentation of the products. In addition, you can do a little survey and get their contact details to inform them about new products in future.
Seasonal sales and behavior of the staff – This sales model system has become very popular in recent years. It is important to understand that mass sales mean much heavier flow of customers. Unfortunately, even the most experienced employees can make mistakes in such situations. Massive sales differ from individual sales during the normal season, and therefore require very clear rules.
Merchandise return and right interaction standards – The merchandise return procedure is regulated by the legislation. However, there are always entrepreneurial employees who take the risk of creating their own interpretation of the regulations. Some will tell customers that there are no returns and no exchanges, and others will even stop all contact with the customer.
However, if you intend to create a recognizable positive image for the company in GCC and take care of your business reputation, the whole process of returns must be in line with the current legislation and be clearly regulated at the corporate level. On the basis of existing practice, we can cite a very thought-provoking statistic: the customer, if satisfied with the purchase, will give 3-4 positive recommendations, while dissatisfied customers will share their negative experience with 10 people. That's why proper interaction with customers who are returning products or ask refund for a service is very important for building a successful business.