Good Customer Relations 101.

Many businesses have multiple product lines or divisions. Many of these operate as separate entities within the corporation. What then happens when inquiries come in to a centralized call center? To which department should you route the inquiry? These are vital questions because experience shows that inquiries which wind up in the wrong department or with the incorrect channel partner, can drop into a black hole never again to see the light of day.

Business Developers (BDs) at eti Sales Support for example, encounter these scenarios daily as part of our role in fielding inquiries from print, TV, WEB and Direct Marketing promotions for a variety of clients.

Let’s take a typical example of an inquiry that comes to us on behalf of a large multinational hi tech client.

The call might go like this.

“Hello … just saw your advertisement about XYZ product.  Could you tell me how much it costs?”We would typically respond by saying “sorry, we cannot provide a price because sales of this product are handled by our channel partners.”

The caller may then ask a technical question about the product.  Again we are not technical specialists (our task is to identify the total opportunity and qualify potential) so again we cannot answer with any specificity.

The prospect may then get testy and ask “Then what good are you? Why does your advertising tell prospective buyers like me to call your number?”

We train our staff to handle these difficult situations by explaining our role:

“Mr. _____, we’re here to prevent you from getting the run-around when you call us direct. We actually want to prevent you from becoming frustrated as you get bounced from one department to another searching for the right person to help you.”

Most prospects react positively when we explain that our role is to find out what his needs are and that we’ll get the appropriate person in the company to call him with the information he needs, and to answer additional questions. In short, to resolve his problems.

What’s more we can do this in real-time if the prospect indicates urgency.

A good Business Development Center such as eti’s  requires the Corporation to cross train our Business Developers so that we can correctly identify (qualify and quantify) all incoming inquiries. And connect the qualified ones to the right person in the right department within the Corporation.

This also allows the Corporation to use a centralized team (such as provided by eti) to probe callers and correctly route opportunities to the right department for follow up. It’s like triage in a MASH unit. Someone comes in with a problem and the first medic’s job is to assess the “pain”, decide the urgency, and call the right doctor to treat the problem – or route the patient to ward (department) where that that specialist consults. Getting the patient to the right treatment in a timely manner can make all the difference between life and death.

Determining what product set would satisfy the need, urgency and scope of the project in a positively friendly manner is key. Getting the right salesman/specialist /Channel partner to contact the prospect ASAP can make the difference between making a sale to a new customer, or losing the customer to a competitor. (Perish the thought.)

Lane Farber

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