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Sales, customer service: perfect symbiotic relation.

Sales, Customer Service: Perfect Symbiotic Relation

"Marketing gets the customers; and customer service keeps them," says Marva McArthur, customer service representative at Waddell and Reed Service of Kansas City, a financial services company.

Ms. McArthur is right; but there's more to the story. Marketing ALSO retains the loyalty of customers.

Customer service experts say that salespeople are one of the most powerful "vehicles" for delivering service, in this service economy. Those who sell a customer on benefits of a product in the first place are in the best position to sustain satisfaction.

There's a trend toward integrating sales and service, says Gary Robertson, 1989 president of the International Customer Service Assn. He is general manager of Bob Wason & Associates, Inc., Louisville, KY, construction firm.

Post-sale service is an essential part of a salesperson's duties, a means of assuring the company of the NEXT sale, too.

Dow Chemical integrates sales and service in a team approach.

Mitchell Kern, Dow's manager of customer service, says: "Our customer service people are part of a proactive sales team."

Dow's team includes marketing, service, and field sales. Service reps communicate with field salespeople and with customers.

Service reps call on customers independently of sales. They also make sales calls together. About one-sixth of service rep's time is allocated to field contact with customers.

What, specifically, can salespeople do to maintain customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Often small details make a big impression -- details such as returning phone calls promptly, answering questions quickly, and being on time for appointments.

At the very least, a salesperson should routinely call customers after delivery and ask whether the customer is satisfied with the product. Then, swiftly correct any problems.

Above all, salespeople should look to their own service orientation. They can keep themselves alert to service responsibilities by routinely playing through their minds questions such as these, taught to IBM salesmen:

"How can I process the order sooner?"

"What can I do to ensure fastest possible delivery?"

"What can I do to enhance product quality?"

"How can I improve my performance to further customer support?"

For salespeople service is an opportunity, not an obligation.

It's an opportunity for greater personal productivity and for greater profit for their companies.

In a service economy, selling and service are inseparable. The dominant companies in any field today have a sensational service reputation.

John Tschohl is author of The Complete Customer Service Handbook scheduled for publication by Prentice Hall in early 1990. The company he founded, Better Than Money Corporation, is an international service consulting and training organization. The firm recently entered into a joint venture agreement with a Soviet organization, Videofilm of Goskino, for development of educational programs to improve service performance of tourist-oriented organizations. Tschohl, a leading authority on quality service, was labelled a "customer service guru" by Time Magazine in a cover story.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Tschohl, John
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1990
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