My husband and I often talk shop about customer service, sales, and follow up. He is a 27 year veteran of the car business, having done every position in the industry other than mechanic (we still have to pay someone else to service our cars). The conversation lately has turned often to customer care for direct sales because he is helping me better my Pampered Chef business by focusing on follow up with my customers.
Hubby is amazing at helping a customer understand their options and choose the right vehicle without sleazy tactics. His customer feedback surveys and reviews are stellar, with customers saying they have never been treated so well or had such a positive car buying experience. My hubby is everything right about auto sales and his high rate of repeat customers and referrals is the stuff sales dreams are made of. I have learned so much from him about customer care for direct sales because his techniques are universal no matter what business you are in.
Both direct sales and car sales have some pretty similar, clear, and effective guidelines to lead one through a follow-up phone call. These days though, the key is getting people to pick up their phones. You have to do that before you can move forward with the conversation. People don’t like to pick up their phones anymore! I call this the “straight to voicemail doldrums.” Hubby has a great technique that I share with his permission.
First of all, this method does require that you use your phone as it was originally intended. You will be dialing numbers, leaving voicemails, and with every step, laying the foundational path to a sincere relationship with your customers. If you are a person who shies away from phone calls, it’s okay, just take a deep breath, but do it anyway. The more you practice, the easier it becomes, and you end up using texting as a last resort option instead of the first choice.
I make about 20 calls in an hour, and that equals 5-6 customers who actually answer on a good day. This can be very frustrating, especially for someone new to direct sales, but just keep going. Keep in mind that every voice message left sets your customer up to expect your next call.
Customer Care for Direct Sales:
General Set Up: Have a clear idea of why you are calling before you call. Define your purpose. (This blog post will address customer care for customers who attend an in person show and placed an order. In my upcoming posts I will address customer care for non-ordering customers and also for online parties.)
Your first call should be within 48 hours of the party. Any longer time frame and your customers move on. This call is to say hello and thanks to your customer. It establishes that you are a friendly and thoughtful consultant without any reference to sales or bookings. Here is the key to success for your next call: Set your customer’s expectations by telling them why you will be calling again. This sounds so easy, but I think most of us actually do this.
Consultant: “Hi Judy, this is Bianca with Pampered Chef. Thanks for taking my call. How are you today?
Customer: “Hi Bianca, I am doing just fine. How about you?”
Consultant: “I am great! Thanks. I wanted to call and just say thank you so much for attending so and so’s party last night and for placing your order. It was really great to meet you and I had so much fun.”
Customer: “Oh me too. Those chicken fajitas were so delicious.”
Consultant: “Those are definitely a favorite for a lot of my customers. Listen, I wanted to make sure you knew that so and so’s party will be submitted on (date), and you should be getting your order in around the (date). I will give you a call in about 2 weeks to make sure that your receive everything and that none of your goodies are damaged. Does that sound good to you?”
Customer: “Oh sure, that will be just fine.”
Consultant: “Great! Now can I ask you for just one favor? It is sometimes hard to get through to my customers because I am not already in your phone. Would you please add me to your contacts as Bianca Pampered Chef? That way it won’t be a mystery next time I call.”
Customer: “Oh sure, no problem. That is a good idea.”
The party will close and the products will ship. Most important is the date you now have on your calendar to make your next call. (stop what you are doing and write the date on your calendar so you don’t forget!) Your customer will welcome your call because she or he will already have your number in their phone and know what to expect.
The entire purpose of this first call is to build engagement and to encourage your customer to answer your next call so they do not consider your calls any form of sales solicitation.
Voice Mail Message:
If you have to leave a voicemail, which often is the case, you need to commit to making 2 calls in one day. The first establishes who you are and what your number is. The 2nd call on the same day is usually when your customer answers. They see your number and recognize it from earlier. This compels them to answer.
Consultant voicemail: “Hi Judy, This is Bianca with Pampered Chef. Thank you so much for attending so and so’s party last night. I am calling to tell you about our product guarantee. I will try you back this evening, or you can call me at (phone number).
If there is no answer for the 2nd call, you will leave the following message:
“Hi Judy, this is Bianca with Pampered Chef. I am so sorry I couldn’t get ahold of you today. Your products are set to arrive around (date). I will call back then to make sure everything arrived safely and see how I can be of service. It was really nice meeting you. Talk to you soon.”
Leaving this message still establishes a timeline and expectation for your customer, although you miss out on the relationship building a little. I have a rule of 3 voice mails and then I move on to email, so by the next call you will either get ahold of them or use your back up plan.
Come learn about call #2, often called the Open Box call, in my future customer care for direct sales posts. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I welcome your feedback and love to hear what has worked for others.
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*These exercises assume you already know what customer care calls are, and are already actively following up with party guests. If you are unfamiliar with customer care for direct sellers, or your company does not promote customer care calls, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss my series, Flipping Your Business with Customer Follow Up!