Friday, July 11, 2008

It's Always Better to Fess Up

I just returned from a great vacation to Colorado Springs! Among the many things we did was ride the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak. You'd think working for an elevator company for 12 years would have cured me of my fear of heights - but this took it to a whole new level. Over 14,000 feet high!

On the ride back down the mountain the train quit working. It came to a slow stop at a downward angle of around 25 degrees. It was pretty steep and it felt like we were hanging in mid-air looking straight down. What took place next is what made me think about how fast you can lose trust with customers when you don't fess up. After some lurches and stalled engine noises the tour guide cheerfully announced over the microphone that there was nothing wrong with the train and not to be worried. No one believed her! And she was not shooting straight with us.

Here are ways to jazz up your sales by fessing up:
  1. Don't totally spill your guts. You don't have to reveal EVERYTHING that went wrong to your customer. Keep in mind that an angry customer will hang on your every word. Choose your words carefully.

  2. Talk in terms of the future. Instead of going into detail about what and why something went wrong, tell your customer what you are going to do to correct the problem.

    For example, don't say this: "My manager didn't show up to work today because his car broke down and so we missed the shipping cut off. I'm really sorry."

    Instead, say this, "We will be overnighting you the product today for delivery tomorrow plus we will throw in one free extra for your trouble."

  3. Don't blame what went wrong on anyone else. Regardless of who's fault it is, the customer had faith in you to get him what he needed. Accept responsibility for the mistake.

  4. Couple the "fess up" with an apology and a voucher/coupon for more business from you or your company. Hopefully, this will help you keep from losing the customer all together by getting him back to you to redeem his freebie.

After 30 minutes of being stranded on Pikes Peak people on the train began to get angry and concoct stories about what could be wrong. We later found out it was a problem with the braking system - and that one of the 3 systems (3 for redundancy in case the other 2 fail) had quit working properly. For the remaining way down the mountain the tour guide ran the train from the front while the engineer gave her directions from the back (over the microphone for all to hear!). Everyone would have been a lot happier if we had known what was wrong. But instead we all stewed about it and then worried if our lives were in good hands. The tour guide should have FESSED UP!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Have a Sale

I love the 4th of July - not just because of the holiday and fireworks, but because I love sales. As a matter of fact, I already bought a new rug as part of a 4th of July sale.

But you don't have to wait until a national holiday to provide a special deal for your clients. I recently received a promotional flyer that was having a sale "in honor of the summer solstice." The summer what?

So, create your own "excuse" for a sale or special offering. Sort of like Hallmark holidays... (grandparents day, bosses' day, etc.). The more creative the better.

So, enjoy the weekend and hope you had a happy Stay out of the Sun day!