Many of you don’t know me personally. My husband and I founded Christian Business Marketplace and launched it in 2013. My background includes 30 years of sales, marketing and customer service experience. I have had a marketing consultancy and recently rebranded it to The VOICE Business Development Training. I have worked with many clients on their marketing and customer service. Often times when I work with a new client they tell me “advertising doesn’t work.”
When I probed into what advertising they were doing and why it didn’t work, I’d always find at least one of these four reasons present as to why it didn’t work:
- The advertising they were doing was not done right.
- They were not tracking or asking new customers, “Where did you hear about us?”
- They were not following up with inquiries who were calling them.
- The follow up and follow through (i.e. customer service) fell down in the sales process.
Since my husband and I founded Christian Business Marketplace, we have always tried to use someone from our directory for whatever our needs are. I hope you too have been using the directory for your needs.
We have found some great businesses in the directory that are using their gifts from God to bring Him glory through exceptional customer service and quality of their work. (1 Peter 4:10-11) But what if one has a highly regarded business and a gift, but does not exemplify exceptional customer service by not calling inquiries back or following up with prospective customers? It is hard for a prospective customer to do business with a company who does either of those things. Despite the Christian business owner saying they are a Christian-owned business, the doubt is still in the prospective customer's mind that whatever negative experiences they have in the courtship period, it is likely to continue once they start doing business with that company. It is like a job interview. Experts in interviewing will say, "Whatever good happens in the interview, divide by 1,000. Whatever bad happens in the interview, multiply by 1,000".
Perhaps the reason number three and four above happens, is because the business is so highly regarded and inundated with inquiries that they are just too busy to return phone calls or follow up on estimates. If each of us were so blessed for that to happen, it would be time to hire some additional help. But, let's consider how much business could be left on the table. And, how much word-of-mouth business could be lost as a result of something like number three or four above happening? And, is it still OK not to take care of someone if you are too busy?
Let’s look at those two questions.
Question #1: If you have so much business that you are too busy to return a sales inquiry call, is it OK?
No. It is not OK in my opinion. Christ came to serve, not to be served and we are to be imitators of Christ (Mark. 10:45 and 1 Cor. 11:1). Good customer service would be to call them back and be honest with them. Apologize that you are booked and that you have a waiting list. Let them know how far out you would need to schedule them. Ask if that is OK with them. If it is not OK with them, do them a favor…have a referral partner – one you know, like and trust (and vice versa) to whom you could refer them. And, guess what, if that referral partner gets in the same situation, perhaps he/she would reciprocate. That is good business. When I had my marketing consultancy, I had an arrangement like that and even though we were competitors, we gave each other business.
Question #2: How much business and word-of-mouth referrals are you losing when you don’t follow up or follow through on an inquiry?
Referral marketing is the single most important marketing strategy that most businesses overlook. According to Inc. Magazine customer referrals are one of the most powerful selling and marketing tools available. Unfortunately, many businesses overlook this strategy or don’t execute it to its fullest potential.
When you lose a prospective customer it is not only for that initial sale either. It is for how many ever times during their lifetime they would have done business with you. To figure out the lifetime value of a customer, take the average sale you would get from a customer and multiply it by how many times they might use your company over their lifetime. Then think of how your biggest fans will refer to you when they hear of a friend or family member needing your services. If I am happy with a company I use, I could provide them at least a referral a year. Now multiply that by the lifetime value of a customer. You could be leaving thousands of dollars in business on the table.
Customer service and referral marketing are critical in the success of a business. As Christian business owners we should be providing customer service to reflect our Christian business ethics. In the near future The VOICE Business Development Training will be offering public workshops on these two subjects. Please stay tuned for class announcements. You can also visit our website at www.TheVoiceTraining.com or call 303-981-1541. Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think of this article and let us know who you are to be entered into our drawing for a free admission into either the customer service or referral marketing workshop.