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Customer Relationship Management

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Who's talking to your customers? What are they saying?

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Customer Relationship Management

  1. 1. Customer Relationship Management Who’s talking to your customers? What are they saying? How are the customers reacting? What don’t you know that could hurt you? Al Walsh Walsh Enterprises Business & Financial Advisors Huntington Beach, California USA http://www.awalsh.us [email_address] (714) 465-2749
  2. 2. <ul><li>Most business leaders are extremely sensitive to customer relations, and take great care to ensure that the sales & marketing staffs are trained in proper customer relationship skills. But who else is talking to your customers? What are they saying? Do you even know it’s going on? Do they have customer relationship skills? </li></ul><ul><li>You may be very surprised to learn how many of your people are communicating with your customers – and what they’re saying. </li></ul><ul><li>You may have delivery drivers “shooting the bull” with customer reps. every day. You may have technical people talking to the customers. Finance talks to them about money. When customers come to visit, god only knows who they talk to while on board. For all you know, one of your janitors could be talking to a customer’s senior buyer or project manager every week. If you have field people, they’re out on the customers’ sites regularly. Who knows who they’re talking to while there, and what they’re saying. Without beating the point to death, you’ve got lots of potential exposures. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Every time one of your employees communicates with a customer, it influences the relationship. Every one of those customer employees – from top to bottom – has some impact on buying decisions. An immature remark by one of your low-level employees could damage or ruin a relationship. I’ve seen it happen. You may lose the customer and not even know why. </li></ul><ul><li>Your vendors may be talking to your customers (as your surrogate “representatives”). For instance, if you run a technical organization and rely on subcontractors, your customers may have legitimate reasons to communicate with those vendors about products they’re providing. They may not be part of your company, but inappropriate remarks by their representatives will reflect badly upon you nevertheless. They’re your vendor after all. You chose them. This is a more difficult area to deal with because you don’t have direct control over them. But it’s something you should be taking into consideration in selecting and vetting your vendors. Are they up to the job? </li></ul><ul><li>You go to great lengths to ensure that you have professional sales reps. Why would you expose yourself by allowing other employees with no customer relationship skills to represent you? You do because you don’t think about it. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger; it’s a common mistake. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Some employees are just never going to have the intellect or maturity to be good “ambassadors”. That’s where supervisors come into play. The supervisors need to monitor what’s going on and control who’s talking to the customers. You need to make sure that your supervisors are trained for the job. Other employees who are allowed to talk to the customers need to be trained too. </li></ul><ul><li>You need to be aware. What you don’t know CAN, and most probably will, hurt you. </li></ul><ul><li>No matter how carefully you manage the process, some “idiot” might still slip through the cracks and say something stupid in front of a customer. Fortunately, if the rest of your customer relations are well-managed, the remark will probably be recognized for the immature nonsense that it is. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The other angle to this topic involves the revelation of inappropriate information to the customer. Every company has information they don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Some of that data could be a deal-killer if released. A classic example is pricing data that would upset the customer if revealed. Perhaps you’re making a higher profit margin than you want them to know. It’s not illegal, it’s not unethical, but it needs to stay confidential. </li></ul><ul><li>Such information needs to be controlled so that it’s only known to the proper inside people. A casual off-the-cuff remark by a supervisor on the shop floor might come back at you when some manufacturing worker later lets it slip in a “BS” session with a customer rep. </li></ul><ul><li>Just so you know how real this stuff can be, let me share an example from real life. At one company, we discovered after the fact that one of our low-level techs who was making field service calls was bad-mouthing our company and telling outright lies to his customer contacts. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>This apparently went on for several months until our annual service contract came up for renewal. The customer’s buyer decided to give the contract to someone else. It took us three years to get that contract back. We had done nothing wrong, and we didn’t even have any sensitive data to hide. The buyer just decided to believe the tech, and we couldn’t do anything about it because we didn’t know it was going on. I can cite other examples of damage done by loose tongues. </li></ul><ul><li>So: Be Aware - Manage the Process -and- Train . </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t get caught with your pants down because you’re managing lethargically. Take nothing for granted when it comes to customer relations. Make that a mantra for your employees. </li></ul>

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