Every Thursday my Toastmasters club meets for breakfast in the back room of a local pancake house. There are about 15 of us who show up, many of us in sales. Sonia, our regular waitress, is what I consider to be a star performer when it comes to customer service.
First, because most of us are regulars, she has memorized our orders and will ask each of us if we want our "usual"??. One morning we watched as she approached a regular who told her he wanted to order something different. Seeing his uncertainty, she made several suggestions, engaging in cross selling. When he narrowed it down, she asked if he wanted any extra sides, engaging in up selling. Those of us with sales backgrounds who overheard this conversation started providing a running commentary, "that´s a cross sell!"?? "Now, she´s up selling!"??She did all of this in a smooth, conversational manner, maintaining eye contact with her customer. She did not become distracted focusing solely on that person. She listened and helped guide him to a decision. Ultimately, he like his selection and Sonia racked up another satisfied repeat customer.
You may be saying, "What does a waitress in a pancake house have to do with me? My business is different!"?? (Hey! It´s an International Pancake House:-)You may sell a totally different type of product or service, but you and your employees should duplicate Sonia´s actions.
Let´s look at what she did.
1. She approached her customer, greeted him cordially, and then asked him if he would like his usual order. Note that she remembered what he ordered in the past. Your sales force should do the same.
2. She smiled, listened to his responses, engaged in cross and up selling, finally guiding her customer to a decision.
3. She then delivered his food to him promptly completing the transaction.
Sonia has been a waitress at that restaurant for several years. From my perspective, the manager who hired her hired the right person. Then he or she provided her with the training she needed. Additionally, management provided her with a comfortable work environment and other incentives to keep her there.
I have no doubt that Sonia´s experience has created extra income for that restaurant. Is your sales force as good as Sonia?
Are you focusing on hiring the right people based on the competencies needed to satisfy your customers?
Are you providing them with a positive work environment? (Proven fact that most people leave because of poor relationships with their boss, not the company.)
Are you providing relevant training and other resources that give your employees a leg up over your competition?
Are they using their training on a daily basis? Let me ask another way. Are you holding them accountable for their actions?
Are you rewarding your star performers?
If you answered "no"?? to any of these questions, you might want to give that question some thought. Notice the different components that come into play here. First, hiring the right person, second, providing her with training. Third, providing a positive work environment. Fourth, holding her accountable for her actions. (I didn´t see this happen, but I can bet what would happen if management received complaints about a waitress who didn´t execute well.)
Finally, I´m hoping that her employers, and you, are providing additional rewards to star performers. It may not always be in the form of money, it could be a flexible schedule, other challenges, or something else. This adds to a positive work environment which helps increase the employee´s loyalty to the organization.
“A true professional will be known by the way he or she conducts business, not by the business he or she is in.”
–William Sturtevant, The Artful Journey