As mentioned before, Sales and Service roles are not for the faint hearted and can often take their toll on your good nature, your energy and your ability to deal effectively with frustrating issues, especially when you put in the effort to do the ‘right thing' by your customers and it is not appreciated, acknowledged or actioned.
At the end of a long day or week dealing with lots of people, pulling together various deals, solving problems and keeping your energy levels up and being on your best behaviour, you could be forgiven for being a bit ‘short' if things don't go according to plan and something falls short of your expectations.
To manage our frustrations, sales and service people can resort to all sorts of remedies:
- Some go and have a quiet drink after work (hopefully not too many)
- Others talk to their colleagues or friends about it (watch out though for electronic conversations i.e. Virgin Atlantic staff who were sacked recently for this very thing)
- Some get some physical exercise to burn off the stress
- Others further develop their communication skills and behaviours to help them deal with challenging customer situations
- While others simply let is run off them like water off a duck's back (reciting OM).
However taking out your frustrations directly on a prospective customer is a big NO NO. No matter how irritating they may be.
I understand that not all customers are ‘good' customers, in that the ‘not so good customers' can cost your business too much to service, or abuse the privilege of your offering, or just don't fit what you do. Letting these customers down gently but firmly and ensuring they can be referred to something more appropriate for their needs would be the ideal outcome.
However ‘letting fly' at someone regardless of their viability to your business is not in anyone's best interests, especially in a networked world where news can travel fast and you never know who your customers or prospects know.
Recently I wrote about my inconsistent service experience in "Be consistent and keep your customers happy" talking about this very issue. And more recently I received an email from a young, smart, sassy, educated friend of mine (read gen Y) who sent me a string of emails about her customer experience at the hands of frustrated service provider. NB: I have kept it anonymous. Needless to say the emails speak for themselves.
Initial Email (Friday 24 Oct 2008); Subject: Bali Quote for your blog
From the top down is how the emails went regarding Monica's and my experience with a travel agent who was helping us plan our 2009 holiday- it is all very self explanatory. Lastly, I have included my email that was sent back to her. FYI I never met the Travel Agent , but Monica told me that she was laughing at how unorganised we were, rolling her eyes, and making comments such as "about time" when we agreed to something over the phone.
Hope it's useful reading!!
Email 1 (Thursday 23 Oct 2008); Subject: Bali Quote
Here is the quote from XXX (Travel agent). Have made an appointment with her Saturday 25 Oct at 12 so see you about 11:45. Go through it, try to get a chance to look at hotels so you know what standard we are staying in.
See you Saturday
Email 2 (Thursday 23 Oct 2008); Subject: Cancel Saturday appointment
Hi XXX (travel agent)
My name is Stephanie. Monica and I had an appointment with you on Saturday 25th October at 12pm regarding our trip to Bali in May 2009.
Thank you for your quote and assistance so far but as we are a bit unorganised, we have decided to change a few things around and would like to be sure of what we want before bothering you so please cancel our appointment for Saturday and take the hold off the discussed flights.
Apologies about the inconvenience and thanks again for your assistance.
Email 3 (Friday 24 Oct 2008); Subject: Bali Quote
I received an email from Stephanie saying that the both of you will be canceling your appointment on Saturday. As I have put in a lot of work into quoting you numerous placing in Bali and held off the $100 deposit until Saturday as a gesture of good faith, I am very disappointed that you would cancel this. I understand that you both have to sort out what you both want to do and where you want to stay however delaying the booking may cost you a price increase.
I hope when you both make up your minds I will be able to help you with your bookings.
XXX (Travel Agent)
Email 4 (Friday 24 Oct 2008); Subject: Bali Quote
Dear XXX (travel agent),
Of course we were appreciative of your time and did realize that wanting to book a $5400 holiday would be hard work. Unfortunately your email proves it is obviously too hard.
However, may we firstly point out that you wrote ‘FIJI' in the quote rather than Bali, which suggests you did not care about what you were preparing anyway.
Secondly, we came to you as a travel agent to pay you to research and recommend places for people to go and to prepare quotes, so apologies about the ‘disappointment' but we never committed to anything with you at the time. You also knew that we were still making decisions and negotiating things with each other and we were planning to come back to you with final decisions within a few weeks. We were appreciative and courteous the whole time in dealing with you and did nothing to deserve your email.
Thirdly, in regards to your good nature of putting off the $100 deposit until Saturday we have it under good instruction that we have 7 days post holding to place the deposit and confirmation on this flight.
Finally, when we both make up our minds we can guarantee that we will not (nor will anyone we speak to who is planning a holiday) be bothering you or XXX Travel Agent Business again with our bookings and perhaps you should reconsider sending out an email such as this to potential customers in the future.
Stephanie and Monica.
In dealing with frustrations, especially trying to keep sales coming in, it is often more courageous to remain calm and collected and try again. Here is a little saying I find most helpful in these and other frustrating situations.
Remember courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
Take deep breaths and I wish you happy and prosperous selling