Assure buyers by giving them what they need, not want

Assurance. A singular word that means a plural of emotions. And, retained, or new, sales.  Assurance is a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise. Assurance is what a customer who is going through uncertainty needs- not what he says he wants. Confused? Hang on. You have my assurance that you’ll get it.

When you call to say you sent money to the wrong number how often does Safaricom wash its hands off the case with, “Sorry. Your mistake. Can’t help you.” In my experience, never. It’s more like, “Sorry. Let’s see what can be done.” Even if the money has been withdrawn, as in a case I know, whereas what the caller wanted was her money back, what she got is what she needed-assurance. “Sorry. The money is already withdrawn. But when he loads his account again we will be sure to refund you.” It’s over two years now with no refund, but that has not dampened her enthusiasm for the service. They listened to her; they assured her; she trusts it will be done. Now, it is very likely, that you and I signed somewhere terms and conditions that indemnify Safaricom from such mistakes. And yet how often, if ever, do they point you to them? Comparatively, how do you suppose a bank would respond?

When I was insisting that my insurance agent pick the cheques for renewing my medical cover, he read into what my real need was. “I’m sorry I haven’t picked them yet. Don’t worry though. We’ve already asked the insurance company to renew the cover.” And just like that all the anger and fear turned into happiness and confidence.

Assurance is a tool most readily available in retaining than getting new sales.  Sadly, most front office personnel do not wield it as often as they should, preferring instead to become defensive. Some version of, “It wasn’t me,” is the default response for most. Don’t accept blame seems to be the explicit message with every morning brief by the bosses. The thinking, I assume, is, customers are all big bad wolves just waiting for you to hesitate that they may pounce and eat you alive. And so the customer chooses not to argue against, “It was your fault” and acquiesces, while harbouring a grudge. They didn’t even listen to me. Assuring doesn’t necessarily mean solving the buyer’s problem. When I called my insurance company to report that I’d been involved in an accident, I expected the typical cold shoulder of, “Don’t accept liability” or, “Do you have a police abstract?”  Instead, my heart warmed at hearing, “Are you okay?” It didn’t mean they were going to pay or that I was not at fault. In fact, it had no bearing to solving my problem.

To assure need not mean that you will give the customer what they want. It means that you will strive to give them what they need.

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