The four most infuriating words

“Sorry, its our policy.”

These are probably the four most infurating words you can possibly hear from any company representative when you are trying to resolve an issue.

Basically what the person is telling you is that they really don’t care about your problem and they really don’t care about trying to find a solution. By saying “Its our policy” the responsiblity is off them and placed squarely on the shoulders of the “company”. But you can’t talk to the company, which is why its so frustrating.

And while policies are important to have in place, its even more important to have people that can explain why a policy is there and how it may apply to the customers situation. Customers just want someone that will listen to their problem and make an attempt at solving it. And I would venture to say that the listening part is probably more important than the solving in most instances.


Marketing Key #5 of 13

Marketing Key #5 – Trust is VERY important.

Gaining your customers trust is imperative when you are selling a service. Customers are buying a promise that you will do something for them…fix their computer, design their website, clean their teeth, trim their trees, etc. The customer’s buying decision is based on how they feel about you and their perception of whether they can trust you to do the job. There is no product for them to try on, try out, taste, etc. before they purchase.

As a result, it is important to market your service in such a way. Be prepared to answer lot’s of questions, provide information on your website, get certifications, show that you know your industry and basically do anything to build trust. And above all be honest. It is very easy for customers to find information these days. The last thing you want to do is give them a reason not to trust you.

This is one of my favorite stories on how a CEO built instant trust.

Know your touch points

Every time, every place, every moment a customer interacts with your company, you have a touch point. A touch point can be any number of things, including:

  • visiting your website
  • receiving and paying an invoice
  • interacting with your customer service
  • one of your employees at a job fair
  • your listing in a local directory
  • a review of your service on Angie’s List
  • an ad for your company
  • your business card
  • your brochure
  • your hold music
  • driving by your office

Its important to know all your touch points and know what each one is saying to your customers.

Marketing Key #4 of 13

Marketing Key #4 – A single person in your organization can have a major influence over a consumers purchasing decision.

Service companies rely heavily on their employees, much more so than companies that sell a product. Customers that are buying a service are buying something that is intangible, they are buying a promise.

Think about it, when’s the last time you bought a car from someone that you liked. Probably doesn’t happen too often. Yet, if you need a car you simply have to put up with the salesman. The salesman is simply a necessary evil in the purchase process. But since you are purchasing something that is tangible (presumably you’ve sat in it, driven it, looked it over, etc.), most of the time you simply put up with the sales person to get to the final goal of owning the product which is a car. This is not the case with a service.

How often have you gone back to a doctor that you don’t like? How about a dentist? or maybe took lessons for something from someone that rubbed you the wrong way. It just doesn’t happen. If we don’t like the person, customer service rep or sales person providing the service, we don’t buy.

Customer contact with a single solitary person within your organization can make or break the entire purchase process for a service company. In my experience, this is probably the most overlooked, yet important aspect of selling a service.

You learn nothing while you are speaking

I posted about this last December but it seems to be a subject that comes up over and over again.

People love to talk. They especially love to talk about themselves, which includes whatever it is that they are selling. I can’t count the number of times I have listened to sales pitches that started with a question about what I am looking for only to turn into a marathon session of “Here’s all our services, I’m hoping one fits your need.”

Remember that you learn nothing while you are speaking.

I remember the time I learned this first hand. I was interviewing at Intel and the guy that was interviewing me hardly said a word. He engaged me in some small talk in the beginning and then simply sat back and asked me questions and nodded his head. I really liked it at first. Here I am able to talk about all the great things I had done. But it soon became very uncomfortable as I began to realize that he knew way more about me than I knew about him or the position I was interviewing for. This put me at a huge disadvantage. There were even a few times where he left me hanging waiting to see what else I would say.

The situation applies to selling your service as well. Your job is not to spend as much time as possible talking about yourself or your service, but to ask questions to find out if there is a fit with what you are offering to what they are looking for.

Remember, the listener is always in control, even if the speaker thinks he is.