Marketing Lowdown: Selling Relationships

Good service is the key to long-term relationships. A "revenue seller" doesn't care about his customers. He only cares if they are qualified to buy&#x2026;and if they're ready to spend their hard-earned money now.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> A relationship seller, on the other hand, builds a long-term relationship with his clients or customers. He wants that customer back again and again. And that requires good service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Research shows an upset customer will tell an average of 10 other people about an unhappy experience. Of those who <br clear="none" /> complain, two-thirds will do business with you again if the complaint is resolved. That number goes up to 96 percent if the complaint is resolved quickly.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> The secret to positive word-of-mouth, then, is avoiding complaints, or by resolving them quickly when they occur. That's good service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Think about the quality of service you tolerate as a (pick one) customer, client, passenger, patient, or patron. When it's good, it makes you feel good. You may even want to tell others about it. When it's bad, you feel demeaned, denigrated, and frustrated. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Research shows only four percent of unhappy customers actually complain; the other 96 percent simply go away unhappy. That means every time a customer complains, you can figure there are 24 more with a similar problem. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> So if a customer complains, thank him. Profusely. He's done you a tremendous favor. You'd better fix whatever he's complaining about&#x2014;and fix it fast, if you want those 24 people as customers again.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> There are three types of service you can offer:<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> 1. Actual service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> 2. Core service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> 3. Augmented service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Actual service is what you actually receive. The core service is the basic benefit you receive. And the augmented service is any additional service or benefit you also receive that enhances the value of the purchase.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> For example, suppose you are traveling from Chicago to San Francisco. The airline ticket you purchase&#x2014;the ticket itself&#x2014;is the actual service. The seat aboard the airplane, and your ability to arrive safely in San Francisco, is the core service. The chocolate chip cookies you get aboard the airplane are an augmented service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> If many of the companies in your industry offer the same actual and core services, you can differentiate your company by the augmented services you offer. Set yourself apart by offering your customers something special, something unique. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Your company could give a special gift with any purchase, or, as one client of mine did, you could dress up as Santa at the holidays and deliver presents to all the employees at one of his most important clients. That same client told me he's loyal to my client specifically because of the Santa Claus visits, despite competitors who have wooed him with lower prices.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Good service is simply ordinary people doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. Ask yourself and your salespeople to give their very best service to your customers at all times. That effort will pay off in satisfied customers and happier employees. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> It will also keep your customers coming back. They may even tell their friends. And no advertising is as trusted as the spontaneous testimony of a satisfied customer.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Most importantly, it helps solidify your relationship with your customer. And it keeps him coming back.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Robert Grede is an <a href="" target="blank">author</a>, <a href="" target="blank">teacher</a>, <a href="" target="blank">counselor</a>, and <a href="" target="blank">public speaker</a>.</i>