Customer Service - The Sales Evangelist

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Donald Kelly, AT&T, Customer Service, Client Success

TSE 1032: Why AT&T Customer Service Caused Me To Switch Providers

Donald Kelly, AT&T, Customer Service, Client SuccessOn today’s episode, I share why sellers must stay focused on their customers, and why AT&T customer service caused me to switch providers.

My phone was disconnected. I couldn’t receive calls from my clients or from my family.

This episode goes beyond sales and is more than just another episode.

People matter

Salespeople sometimes forget that people matter, so let my experience with a disconnected phone serve as a direct reminder about the need for quality customer service.

Too often, large companies don’t seem to care about small individuals.

As such, I feel a moral obligation to use my platform to share this incident so that others may benefit from my experience.

Brand loyalty

I remember back in 6th grade when my mom got me a pager from BellSouth. I felt like the coolest kid on campus. My friends could reach out to me and I could send messages to them; it was all very exciting.

I got my first prepaid cell phone in 7th grade, also from BellSouth. I became an AT&T customer when they acquired BellSouth and I had no complaints.

Eventually, I moved to the Nokia phone with text messages and minutes – and, of course, I chose AT&T.  When I moved away to college, I tried to take AT&T with me but there weren’t a lot of cell towers back then so it couldn’t happen. They released me from my contract and I signed on with Verizon.

Verizon was fine but I was excited when AT&T expanded its coverage and I could use them once again with my new iPhone.

My family and I used AT&T for everything. It was a sad day when we moved and had to switch to Comcast but it was exciting when we were eventually able to switch back once again.

We understand that companies grow, things happen, and changes are made. We didn’t like all of AT&T’s new ideas but we rolled with the punches and kept moving.

A lot of plans have changed in the industry. There is a different structure to leasing phones now, for example. They also offer a prepaid plan where, if you pay off your phone, you have unlimited use for just $45 a month through an automatic bank withdrawal. Sounded good to me!

Text notifications let you know when the amount will be withdrawn from your account so you can prepare.

It was all running smoothly until we noticed some fraudulent activity on our bank card during the holiday season. We decided to cancel the card and apply for a replacement.

You can see where I’m going with this …

No customer loyalty

About two weeks later, AT&T disconnected my phone, so I called them right away.

I certainly accept responsibility for my share of the problem but let me tell you what happened. Because my plan had ‘expired,’ they had cancelled my services –  without notifying me.

Additionally, the prepaid plan that I had enrolled in was offered only as a limited promotion. To obtain the same plan again would cost me $65 a month.

The money was not the issue. The principle certainly was.

The customer service representative told me that because the plan had expired, I could not renew it despite that I had never canceled it. My years of loyalty as an AT&T customer were meaningless.

What was my incentive to stay with a company that did not return the same level of loyalty, or care, toward me?

I didn’t have time to argue. Since I needed my phone for work, I agreed to the higher plan, but only while I courted new companies, namely T-Mobile.

I raised the question on social media and found not only that people seem to love T-Mobile but, at the same time, there have been an increasing number of dropped calls with AT&T service. It is definitely time for a change.

Two-way street

The lesson behind this story: remember that your customers and your clients are people.

Cultures change and some companies get stuck in archaic ways of thinking.

They will move to businesses that give them attention; ones that are more nimble and flexible.

Don’t let your business model be stuck in the past, unwilling to deviate from the old standard.

Are you flexible? Do you bend to help your customers or do you expect them to bend toward you?

This month, as we focus on client success and customer service, I urge you to evaluate the way you treat your clients.

Are you putting the people who pay you first?

“Why AT&T customer service caused me to switch providers” episode resources 

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Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Customer Retention

TSE 589: Sales From The Street-“Remember Their Name”

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Customer RetentionHave you ever experiencing talking within someone and 5-10 minutes down the conversation, you actually don’t remember their name? Imagine this scenario with your client, asking what’s their name at the end of the presentation. How would this make them feel?

Today, I’m going to share some strategies to make that personal connection to make them want to come back to you and buy from you over and over again.

Remembering People’s Names

This is one challenge I have had or I’m still facing sometimes especially those I have just met. A quick backstory…

I went to our local dry-cleaner and then we moved but I still go back to the same place. Why? Because of Angelo, the owner of the shop, makes his customers feel special. He is so old, maybe in his 80’s. I’ve never had any conversation with him but he remembers my name.

So instead of making me look at him as just a dry-cleaner, he made me look at him as my dry-cleaner. This guy remembered my name after not coming to him for so long. And that made me feel important.

It’s a Focus Issue

If you relate this to sales, sometimes you get on the phone with people and you see their name on the list and then a few minutes after the conversation, you no longer remember the person’s name so you’d have to go back to look at the sheets or online or your CRM trying to figure out who you’re talking to.

It’s not about you having a bad memory but this comes down to a focus issue. We tend to not focus on the individual and a lot of times as a sales professional, we see the person as a dollar figure. So we don’t think about the individual behind it.

So I’ve come up with strategies to make sure you remember individual’s names:

  1. Focus on the individual.

One primary reason we can’t remember names is that we are not focusing. We are easily distracted so we don’t have that long attention span. Put your phone down. Focus on what they’re saying.

  1. Listen.

Because we’re too distracted and we’re focusing on something else, we don’t listen.

  1. Make some connection.

Maybe the person looks like someone else you know and makes that connection. Or is there something else that you can associate with that individual? Like a place or a name, you can remember from middle school. Whatever that is, find that commonality.

  1. Motivation

What is your motive behind knowing this individual’s name? What if you were asked to memorize someone’s name and just that? Well, you might say you can’t remember it. But what if you were asked to remember someone’s name and you’d be given $10,000 for it? Then your motive would totally change, right? You’re going to remember. You’re going to focus. You’re going to write it down in your mind. All because you want to get that $10,000. So what’s the motive behind you meeting with someone?

  1. Repeat the person’s name.

When they introduce their name to you, say their name too and this helps you memorize their name. Then you can also repeat the person’s name during the conversation.

Today’s Major Takeaway:

Focus on the present. Focus on the individual. Turn off the phone. Repeat the individual’s name and associate with something. Remembering somebody’s name shows them that you respect them and you appreciate them. And that goes a long way.

Episode Resources:

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Bad Customers, Client Selection, Donald Kelly

TSE 557: When Should I NOT Bring on a Client?

How about cherry-picking customers to make sure you get the right actual ones? Today, I’m answering the question: When do you now NOT to bring on a client?

So here are some signs that you probably should not bring them on:

  1. They don’t have the money.

When I was first starting out in the software world, I was so afraid to tap into the big fish that I focused on the little guys. Then I realized it just gave me so much work. They didn’t have much money so they were more afraid of losing or messing up. That’s understandable because when you’re broke, you get scared, right? Hence, these kinds of customers are going to have issues on everything.

  1. You just don’t see yourself getting along well with them.

Many customers are nitpicky on so many different things. There is a difference between personalizing and helping a paying customer than a taking customer. In this business, your job is to generate revenue while helping people. Money is the lifeblood of any business. Seek for long-term relationships. Is it someone you can get along with and have a long term relationship with?

  1. They complain more than your average customers.

Look at the number of complaints or modifications before they even start with you. If this number exceeds the average customer has, then you have to keep your stats and let these people go.

  1. They’re giving you so much headache.

Always think about this long-term. Are they going to be more profitable in the long run? Or are they going to take more from your business than they’re actually bringing into your business? This applies to relationships as well.

Today’s Major Takeaway:

Seek clients that will be able to enrich your organization. Is this someone you like and can build a relationship with? How many complaints do they have? Do they have the budget and the money? Are they in for the longevity?

Episode Resources:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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Customer Experience, New Client Experience, Prospecting, Customer Growth

TSE 449: Sales From The Street-“Your Signature Experience”

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast, Matt Ruedlinger, The Best Sales PodcastSales and marketing play a very critical role in any business, but being able to provide a remarkable customer experience is what will eventually keep them coming back. It’s all about experience.

Our guest today is Matt Ruedlinger, He is the Founder and CEO of Triple R Marketing, a marketing firm where they learn about not only the business, but also the customer and their customers. In this episode, you will learn more about how to create remarkable customer experiences so your customers will feel like royalty that they’ll talk about you over and over again thus growing your business.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Matt:
Matt coolest sales experience when he was the customer at a barbecue place

Customer Satisfaction as the Bare Minimum:
Customer satisfaction can’t be used as a measure because it’s the bare minimum that people accept. Exceed customer expectation so they will talk about your company. Know about the customers. Do a little something special and different. Create that personal connection or relationship.

Strategies for creating remarkable customer experiences:

1. Map out the customer journey

Start off with a poster board you can put on your wall. List down categories of every touching point you have with the customer (ex. Website experience, phone call)  Understand every touch point you have to make sure it’s a good one. Make this assessment 2-3 times a year and think about how you can make each section a little better.

How is it going to be so much better than what’s out there now that makes their life easier?
How can you implement a system to make that experience?

2. Find out what makes you unique.
What is something that you can do that is different than competition and that makes you stand out? Matt’s company never forgets birthdays. Caramels are their signature gifts to customers who are celebrating their birthdays.

3. Zone in on who your clients are.
There’s not a one size fits all. You’ve got to tailor it to specific people. What means something to one may not mean the same to another.

4. The Power of Customer Feedback
Reach out to your customers and find out from them how you can do better in a way that you will make an impact and make their life easier. Then start to collaborate those ideas. Also listen to the input of your employees.

The customers are in charge now. When they speak, you’ve got to listen to them because that’s where the experience comes in. You’re just a google search away from being replaced.

5. Put the right people in the right positions.
Empower them to do what they do and create those experiences. Give them the right training necessary.

6. Consistency is key.
Once you’ve raised that bar, customers will expect. Be sure to continue to meet and exceed those expectations and the story gets told more and over and over again.

Matt’s Major Takeaway:

Always clients what can you do to improve and make an experience for them. Constant communication with your customers is key to your business growth and creating an experience.

Episode Resources:

Get connected with Matt through and check out their website Or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Also check out Joan’s Caramels.

The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

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Customer Service, New Customers, Buyers, Procurementa

TSE 427: Sell The Way They Buy!

Customer Service, New Customers, Buyers, Procurementa There’s something I want to propose to you, sell the way that your clients like to buy. It’s a simple but often overlooked principle by many businesses.

Many companies focus on the sales, marketing, and figures which should be the case, but they they tend to have forgotten another major ingredient – Is this the way the customer is going to buy the product? Do they buy in a 3-step process? Or do they have a 6-step process?

So here are a few things for you to understand, and really, hopefully, you take these by heart.

People are still people.

The things you do online should be directly correlated to who you are in person. People you find online are still people. So you can’t just suddenly tell them to buy a product in three steps when they actually have a different process for that which could consist of 5 steps or 6 steps.

Find out who makes the purchases.

Most large companies have a procurement department that is in charge of the final purchase. Sure, you may have sold it to a decision-maker and they’ve already signed off. But you still have to understand that they might have some procurement process that you need to go through.

Additionally, government organizations have a very different and quite longer procurement process so you have to be aware of that.

So make friends with the procurement department and find out what their process is.

Consider the company size.

When working with small organizations, they may be making purchases more in recurring revenues rather than a large lump sum.

Today’s major takeaway:

Sit down and write out a process of how your customers buy. Reach out to their departments and find out what they need to do, what documents are needed, etc. Don’t get stuck in contract hell. Learn all the details. Think like the client. And have their best interest in mind.

Episode Resources:

TSE Episode 083: How to Avoid Contract Hell

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Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist, Sales Podcast, Customer Service

TSE 276: The Little Things Matter The Most With Customer Service

Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist, Sales Podcast, Customer Service I just had a bad experience this week and I want to share it with you because I want to emphasize the value of giving your customers what they need and treating your customers well.

You see, I had to rent an SUV since I was going up to Orlando, Florida and needed an extra ride. So, I went to a site, which I’ve always had a great experience with. I went to this third party company they referred me to (where I went for a cheaper one) called E-Z Rent a Car. But one thing I can tell you is that there is nothing easy about renting a car with them. It was a horrible and terrible experience. And you see, there are simple things that can bring great customer service. It comes from the small things.

So I’ve come up with 5 key points you need to keep in mind when providing great customer service:

  1. Everyone is in the business of sales.

Make sure you treat people the way they want to be treated. Treat them well. Personalize it and take care of them. Just be a human being. When I went to their customer service desk to get help, they made me feel like I was bothering them or wasting their time for trying to give them business.

  1. Take time for the customers.

When we went to the car, the guy responsible for collecting the paperwork was busy in another trivial conversation with an employee. So we had to wait until he was done.

  1. Educate your customers on your offers.

A guy was trying to sell us a SunPass, a prepaid toll program, but they didn’t explain anything. I refused the offer and what I got from it was that it was like my loss for not going with them. We would’ve gotten it if they had explained it well.

  1. Be mindful of the customer.

If your customers speak English, speak English. The employees there were conversing in another language. You have to treat your customers with respect by not speaking a language they don’t understand. Let them know they are important to you.

  1. Underpromise and overdeliver.

When I went to get the car, it was dirty. Worse, the inside wasn’t clean at all. Worst of all, there was no gas in the vehicle. They over promised, but under delivered. If you tell your customer you deliver the product in 3 weeks and deliver it in less time, your customers would really appreciate that. Exceed their expectation.

Episode Resources:

Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow

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The Sales Evangelist, Donald Kelly, Donald C. Kelly