TERRIBLE SERVICE + AWESOME PRODUCT = BIZ FAILURE!

Poor service and support don't sell
Poor service and support are product killers – Kryptonite to your sales team

When it comes to service…so many companies are completely clueless. Ask them what business they’re in and they’ll say things like “fraud prevention, e-discovery, cybersecurity, predictive analytics, data loss prevention, endpoint security,” etc.

Those are product descriptors that sales and marketing teams use to sell, NOT what companies actually are. The reality is that all businesses are service providers. If that doesn’t resonate with you – read no further.

BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD? DOESN’T MATTER!

A company might have the hottest product ever invented but how the business interacts with customer’s post-sale is actually a more valuable gage of customer satisfaction (customer experience – CX), long-term licensing sales, and year over year revenue opportunities than how the product actually performs.

If the invention breaks and no one's around to provide service or support for it, the inventions not that great, is it?
Your company’s products are like toasters – They brown bread well
but absent the butter (service), all customers remember is tasteless dry toast.

Again, business success really has nothing to do with whether products “walk on water” but the service and support companies provide after the inks dry on the deal.

Case in point, enterprise software’s an expensive, drawn-out proposition often having a multi-year sales cycle. Once the initial contracts been paid, it’s not the end of the deal – but the beginning of a road which will either be paved or full of pothole causing blowouts.

Many companies are so shortsighted that they fail to realize that increased licensing fees (adding extra users), bolt-on features, new modules, upgrades, etc. may end up generating more revenue over time than the original software sale itself. But the added sales revenue only materializes when customers view providers as heavily invested partners in their operational success.

What’s the barometer for successful long-term partnerships? Products that walk on water? Hardly! Clients are looking for levels of service and support that exceed their expectations. Clearly, excellent service and timely support provide strategic competitive advantages over the competition no matter how cool their offerings are.

SUCKY SOLUTION 

A customer (this example represents no particular company but a conglomeration of post-sale complaints I’ve heard about over the years) buys a 3-million-dollar enterprise software program for their business. The on-premise deployment goes well, or so the tech company thinks.

The next week the customer’s complaining that “nothing works – everything’s a mess.” The tech company, recognizing an upsell opportunity, boldly suggests that solving the customer’s problem involves additional products, or modules, telling them “that for an additional (insert mega money here) we’ll resolve those issues.”

if you sell without service you might as well not sell at all
If your enterprise software provider’s incapable of providing timely service or support post-sale, they aren’t really invested in your operational success!

The customer argues they were assured, and the contract specifies, that the software would work “out of the box.” The tech company begrudgingly sends staff back on-site, incurring additional expense, to make the software operational. A few weeks in, the customer’s staff has some simple questions about basic features. E.g. what does code “555” mean or why are we getting these error messages?

Should it take an Act of Congress to answer these questions? Absolutely not! Resolution should involve a 2-minute call to the support line – sending the customer back to work satisfied that they understand how the product operates.

But nooooo. The customer gets no response to multiple inquiries about the same issues for 3 weeks! Now, it’s no longer about the code or error messages but “unacceptable service levels!” World-renowned service expert, Chip Bell describes these types of scenarios as “service failures,” where the smallest issues often have the biggest impact on customers, negatively damaging business reputations and relationships.

HOOKED ON SERVICE

In case businesses errantly assume that the service they provide has no bearing anywhere else, consider a personal example. Fishing is one of my hobbies and over the years, I’ve taken quite a few guided fishing trips in places around the country.

Fishing guides think they’re in the business of helping client’s catch fish – that’s partially true but the reality is they’re “service providers.” The difference between a so-so fishing guide and a really great one? The level of service they provide.

Service sucks on some fishing guides boats
The author with a big steelhead caught on the Muskegon River with fishing guide Jon Kolehouse,
provider of epic fishing experiences. Jon practices CPR: Catch
/Photograph/Release! www.fishwmi.com

Let’s break it down. A guided fishing trip for two people on a freshwater river or lake may cost $500 a day. When clients have a great experience not only do they tip the guide, but they’ll likely become repeat customers, often coming back year after year. If a repeat client does 20 trips with the guide over the next 10 years, he pockets $10,000 in revenue (tips not included) from one customer. Not bad.

Jon Kolehouse operates Rivers Bend Guide Service on the Muskegon River in Michigan. Jon’s a phenomenal fishing guide, fun to be around and a very service oriented, client-friendly, business person. Jon’s clients catch fish – so he’s booked all the time. One of his differentiators? Jon provides clients a hot lunch option on the river and we’re not talking sandwiches here. Imagine fishing on a cold Michigan day in March or November and when lunchtime rolls around your guide hands you a plate with steak, (or chicken) with pasta, and a piece of garlic bread that he cooked in the boat while floating down the river.

satisfied customers turn into long term buying relationships
In Midwest Salmon and Steelhead fishing circles – Kolehouse is the guide to fish with!

Not only are Kolehouse’s lunches incredibly tasty but they’re a time saver for client’s who don’t have to go looking for lunches (which will be cold when eaten) when they arrive in town the night before the trip. Kolehouse gets it!

THE PERSONALITY OF A BRICK

Conversely, let’s say a fishing guide (Insert name here) ignores his clients. He’s uninterested, talks on the phone all day and doesn’t pay attention to them or any fishing related issues they have. A client asks for a new bait, figuring that the guide’s going to help them (which is what service-oriented business people do) but the clueless guide points to a bag and grunts “it’s over there – get it yourself.” Sure, the client can physically grab a bait and knows how to rig it himself, but DIY isn’t why many people book guided fishing trips.

Or, how about this very real example? The guide gets in the client’s face – insulting them like a boot camp, drill instructor because they made a silly mistake and lost a fish! No one, whose paid good money for a fishing trip, wants to be treated so disrespectfully nor does it make for a fun experience. Think these clients will ever book another trip with this guide again, no matter how great he is at catching fish?

Insulting your customers isn't a great service strategy!
“YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOU WERENT PAYING ATTENTION AND DIDN’T ‘SET THE HOOK?!!’
YOU CALL YOURSELF AN ANGLER? YOUR MOMMA’S NOT HERE TO HELP YOU FISH!
NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!”

Bottom line, people who’ve had bad service experiences vote with their feet, opting to patronize other businesses. The shortsighted guide, who doesn’t think service matters, loses $10,000, or more, in revenue. But wait, there’s more. The clients have such a bad time that they go on social media and tell their story.

Now, 1,000 people will never book trips with this guide. That’s 1,000 billable days lost over the years @ $500 per day + a $50 (average) daily tip. Revenue lost = $550,000. Soon, the guide’s out of business.

If you don’t think that customers are publicly going to tell others how poor your service and support are, think again. Pathetic service and support spread through industry circles like wildfire and business reputations quickly resemble scorched earth. Alternatively, clients evangelizing service excellence are the best marketing businesses can buy!

LEATHERMAN DELIVERS

My brother in law once gave me a Leatherman multi-tool engraved with my name on it and a leather sheath for Christmas. A very cool gift. 24 years later, I was in the Canadian Boundary Waters fishing and the well-used tool malfunctioned. I contacted Leatherman in Oregon hoping to send it to them and see if they could fix it. Leatherman’s response:

“Our tools are built to last, but if anything happens, your Leatherman is backed by our 25-year limited guarantee.”

Leatherman = legendary warranty customer service
Leatherman understands the value of highly satisfied customers!

To my complete surprise, arriving in the mail one day not long after was a brand-new Leatherman multi-tool and case. Not only is that phenomenal service but a legendary company standing behind their products.

Leatherman doesn’t pay me to endorse their tools – just demonstrating how highly satisfied customers evangelize excellent service experiences with companies they do business with. Got it?

THE BOTTOM LINE

While companies may think their products “walk on water” because analyst firms are rating them high in the “Super-Duper” quadrant, those opinions don’t matter in the slightest. How customers perceive your business, from their experience, is the only opinion that matters and customers are increasingly focused on the level of service and support provided by potential business partners. No matter how cool you, or any industry analyst firms, think your products are, the product’s immediate ability to solve business problems may not be good enough for customers to stick around long-term, absent astonishing levels of service and support.

Survival in a crowded product marketplace depends on differentiators – like the level of post-sale support your company provides. Service is King!

See last week’s blog: F’d Up – 6 Areas Where Businesses Get Catawampus

ABOUT DAN DRAZ

Dan Draz - Fraud Solutions

Dan Draz is an enterprise fraud risk management consultant, keynote speaker, industry trainer and published author. Draz is an often-quoted fraud and investigations expert in industry, trade, online and news publications. Draz is the principal of Chicago-based Fraud Solutions. He consults with clients across industry verticals, providing enterprise fraud risk management consulting, anti-fraud strategies, fraud risk, GRC, and ethics (code of business conduct- employee hotline) assessments, fraud collateral (whitepapers, blogs, articles, newsletters, product/fact sheets, lead gen pieces, etc.) and fraud training. Draz has a Masters in Economic Crime Management, is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a Fellow at the Governance and Accountability Institute and a 2018 “Top Thought Leader in Trust” recipient. He writes and records unique business and consumer multimedia public awareness material under the name of “Detective Dan.” For more information: info@fraudsolutions.com.