1. 62 Direct Selling News | May 2009
At the core, there is one rule in business: If customers get what they want, they
come back; if they don’t, they won’t. It’s that simple.
The more your business follows this rule,the more successful it
will be.So here’s how you can apply this rule to maximize your own
sales and customer service.
Know your customers.1. The contact center is a
hub of interaction, and contact center representatives
(CSRs) know who’s happy—and who isn’t. They
immediately know whether your products or services
are exceeding expectations. That’s why it’s critically
important to train your CSRs to recognize which calls
require immediate action or indicate trends.
Challenge old ways.2. With time, the way a company
does business has to evolve. Some outdated processes
may not make sense anymore, so don’t be afraid to look
for better ways. Whether order volume is dropping
or your customers are repeatedly calling about the
same concerns, this information needs to be shared
with leadership staff at your company. Remember,
your contact center talks to your customers more than
anyone else. So ask what they are hearing—and listen.
Call your own toll-free number once a week.3.
How many menus do your customers have to sort
through? Three? Four? Even if you use an initial menu
to sort calls, don’t go more than one menu deep. And
if your customers want to press zero and talk to a live
person right away, let them do it. It’s worth the $20–25
an hour to have a cheerful, friendly voice greet a caller,
route their call to the appropriate team and exceed
Have clear channels.4. Make it easy for your
customers to return products or ask for assistance if
there’s a problem with their order—online or by phone.
These issues happen in every business. But how they
are handled makes a big difference. Clearly display your
toll-free numbers and offer your customers easy-to-use
2. www.directsellingnews.com 63
online forms, which you can focus on when call volume
is not high.
Offer an online suggestion box.5. With this simple
tool, you can gather and sort suggestions from your
customers—and show you care about their needs. It’s
important to get those suggestions to the right people
throughout your company who can make changes
Use online chat.6. Chat is one of the best tools
available right now, and the return on investment (ROI)
is incredible. With online chat, an experienced CSR
can help five to eight customers simultaneously online.
Online chat even allows you to click and drag scripted
answers, so start a searchable knowledge base with clear,
friendly answers. Once you’ve got online chat, make it
available from any page on your Web site.
Take the busy out of business.7. Use caution when
you set up a process to take care of an issue. Make sure
it will work in the long run. If you have processes that
involve a lot of paperwork, figure out how you can go
electronic, still achieve 80–90 percent of your desired
result and reduce workload.
Track your customers.8. If you’re in direct sales, you
need a customer relationship management (CRM)
software package that creates accounts for all your
direct sellers. This software tracks their order history,
status and any one-time courtesies or special exceptions.
It provides key information to monitor those who might
try to take advantage or extend extra kindness to your
top achievers. Have a generous policy, and consider a
“fool us once, shame on you; fool us twice, shame on
Survey your customers with informal quick9.
polls. After a chat session, use a quick
survey with two or three questions to rate their service.
You can also post polls regularly on your Web site about
Know your vision.10. It’s imperative that your
team has its own vision. Write a mission statement with
input from your team and leadership staff that dovetails
with the overall mission of the company. Post it and use
it to guide your decisions.
Remember your boundaries.11. Understand what
your department does, and rely on other departments
to do their jobs. Otherwise, there is a tendency for
customer service to take on more and more roles as
time passes. Also, be willing to send great ideas to other
teams instead of trying to implement everything on
Be calm and empathize.12. In sales and customer
service, it’s important to act like you’ve been there
before. Customers don’t want to talk to someone who
is surprised by their call—they want someone to listen,
empathize and offer a solution.
Empathy is a great thing. In other languages, one says
“I’m sorry” by saying“I feel it.” In English, often people
think that“I’m sorry” means admitting fault, but really
we are saying,“I am here for you.” Your approach should
be simple: Be there and talk about solutions.
Be prepared.13. Even with the best products in the
world, you need to be prepared for consumer safety
issues. Write solid standard operating procedures before
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3. 64 Direct Selling News | May 2009
you need them with the help of your quality assurance
and legal teams.
Create a guide of best practices.14. When you figure
out the best way to do something, write it down. It
sounds obvious, but your CSRs should pull their talking
points and actions from a searchable archive. Update
these processes as better ones come along.
Create staffing forecasts.15. Find correlations
between sales activity, order volume and workload
for your team. Use 90–180 days of data to find this
correlation, and then update it every 30–60 days to
guide your staffing forecasts. It’s prudent to staff to 75
percent of the volume of your busiest days. (If you staff
to meet your busiest days, you’ll be overstaffed the rest
of the time.)
Measure your performance.16. An excellent service
goal is to answer at least 80 percent of calls within 60
seconds. Also, measure your performance by having
managers on the floor, listening to calls and coaching—
they are your most experienced resources.
Focus on quality, not quantity.17. Great companies
have empowered CSRs who take their time with every
customer—up-selling and fostering relationships.
Though it will create some additional labor costs, it’s
one of your best investments, since it’s the primary way
customers interact with your company.
Cross-train, cross-train, cross-train.18. Customers
are happier when they get an answer on their first
contact at least 80 percent of the time. When a contact
center is staffed with specialists, this is harder to achieve
due to meetings, days off and breaks—which means
customers get voicemails or delays. The answer is to
develop knowledgeable, interchangeable generalists who
can access search-friendly databases.
Encourage your CSRs to serve on project19.
teams. Nobody knows more about customers than
your CSRs. They are continuously interacting with the
people who purchase your products or services. Giving
up an employee temporarily for projects such as Web
development or testing is worthwhile because it creates
a better product for your organization and allows your
CSRs to expand their skills.
Know when to let go.20. A great leader knows they are
not great at everything. When you empower and trust
your employees, your organization will move faster.
So surround yourself with exceptional people and get
out of their way. And remember, your employees talk
to your customers more than you do. They might not
always know the best course of action, but they have the
continued from page 57
Tastefully Simple Customer Service Representatives
If customers get
what they want,
they come back.
4. www.directsellingnews.com 65
best data and information. Your role is to bundle and
sort that information and make decisions based
Adopt a servant style of leadership.21. All levels of
leadership should roll up their sleeves, answer calls, open
the mail or pack orders. Serve your people by working
alongside them, and remember that your attitude sets
the pace. Check your ego at the door, and be the person
you’d want to work for.
Let family come first.22. Honor that people love their
families. Support them when they can’t be at work or
need flexibility. When their family needs are met, people
are more likely to love their jobs and do anything for
a boss or company they love. Recognize this fact, and
respect an employee’s desire to put their family first.
Create a great culture.23. Hopefully your organization
invests in creating a positive culture, but you have
the power to make or break that culture within your
own department. Make it a fun place to work. Smile.
Celebrate what’s working, start meetings with victories
and focus on what you want to see more of. Surprise
your team with treats, and have subgroups of employees
who plan special meals and birthday cakes. Know
your work volume, so you make time for fun during
downtimes. It’s up to you. Get all in or get all out.
Make your employees comfortable.24. Spend
money on quality headsets, computers, chairs, additional
monitors and faster Internet service. You must have the
right tools to do the job.
Promote employees to other teams.25. Hard to
believe, right? It’s actually good to lose A-players to other
departments at your company, because you’ll hire more
A-players. It’s important for employees to develop their
skills and career path. Plus, promotions to other teams
foster strong relationships across the company.
Remember,there is one rule in business: If customers get what
they want,they come back; if they don’t,they won’t.When you focus
on that simple rule,you can retain more customers,increase your
sales and set your organization apart from the pack.DSN
Louis Ross is Director of Order Services for Tastefully Simple,
based in Alexandria, Minn.