Guest post by, Mark Wilson CEO of TermSync, a cloud-based customer portal
Communicate with customers every step of the way
No matter what step of the process a customer is in, proactive communication is key. Don’t wait for a customer to come to you with a question or complaint. Instead, send a friendly post-sale email to ensure the right items were delivered on time and without any damages. Also check with them to make sure the right charges were reflected on their invoice. Nothing’s more frustrating than noticing you’ve been overcharged and then having to sit on the phone trying to get things sorted out. Both you and your customers are busy, so being proactive with instances like these saves everyone time. Doing it through automated emails is an easy way to save you and your customers time while still accomplishing the results.
In addition, you may discover issues you didn’t already know about. Often an invoice is left unpaid because the invoice is incorrect or the customer never received it at all. And as frustrating as it might be, customers typically won’t reach out to tell you unless there’s something drastically wrong with the order. Instead, they’ll wait until you call looking for the payment, which is usually several weeks later. Sending some type of follow-up message after the order and invoice helps prevent these delays in payments and allows you to hear about and resolve issues earlier on.
Place priority on post-sale metrics
While the marketing, sales, and account management departments all have systems in place to help track customer interactions, the post-sale process is typically left on its own with few tools to measure satisfaction levels. Every manager – no matter the industry or company size – expects their staff to respond to customers in a timely and respectable manner. However, few hold their employees accountable by tracking to see if they’re actually following through. Here are two easy metrics managers should start tracking:
Customer Response Time: In most B2B industries, the typical best-practice is for employees to respond to customer questions and complaints within one business day. However, without tracking response time, and therefore holding employees accountable for responding within the set timeframe, the chances of it actually happening are slim. Too often things slip through the cracks. But if your staff knows you track it, things will “magically” start getting done in a more timely manner.
Customer Satisfaction: Too often, companies assume a customer is satisfied just because they pay the invoice and didn’t raise any objections. Unfortunately, this is often far from the truth. The fact is that most customers will contact you regarding big problems but they will often let little annoyances go because they don’t want to spend time on the phone. This makes it crucial that companies ask customers how their service levels were before and after the sale. You don’t want to annoy your customers with long surveys. Instead, a few quick, easy questions will help you keep track of who is happy and who needs more attention.
Share post-sale metrics with customers
After you start tracking post-sale metrics, like customer response time and customer satisfaction, start sharing them with your customers. The fact that you take the time to track your response time and customer satisfaction shows customers you care more about just closing the sale. Ideally, these metrics will be measured by a third party agency or software. This provides more credibility to your customers.
Hold employees accountable
Too often, managers ask their staff to respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion, but do little to ensure their staff is actually doing so – a big mistake on management’s part. Employees quickly realize what metrics management tracks and what tasks take priority, so if you’re not tracking response time your team most likely knows this and will push tasks related to responding to customer questions farther down their to-do list. But if you start tracking response time and start sharing it with customers, employees will notice these tasks’ priority and make more of an effort to improve their response time and customer satisfaction.
Mark Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of TermSync, a cloud-based customer portal. Over Mark’s career, he has always focused on process improvements as a way of not only reducing costs but also increasing efficiency and improving internal and external relationships. After seeing first-hand, the amount of corporate waste that can be attributed to outdated post-sale processes, Mark realized a significant need in the market was not being addressed. Building on this knowledge and his prior successful startup experience, he formed TermSync.