Entrepreneur, humble yourself and start selling

Published in Kauppalehti/Debatti on 22nd February 2016
Guest writer: Mikko Ilves

One of the most challenging tasks in having a business is creating turnover. That is is based on sales and customer service. As an entrepreneur myself, I try to examine this also from a customer’s point of view. I’m sure that everyone has had unforgettable customer experiences, my own top 3 would be the following.

I was being a support person for a patient at a private clinic. After a small operation, the patient was in a near fainting condition, when the clinic employee noted that maybe the patient should be taken to a public health-care centre!

An employee in a smaller Swedish bank wanted to terminate the banking services of a small enterprise. Even if the small company was joining a bigger corporation, it would not have an effect on the decision. It seemed that the most important thing for the employee was to get rid of the customer, instead of upselling, because maintaining the customership was currently too troublesome!

As my third memorable experience of customer service, I want to list the whole industry of boat selling. I have rarely encountered as arrogant service in any other field. I have bought three brand new boats and will definitely choose another brand when I’ll buy the fourth one. However, I’m hoping to encounter this time a sales person, who will change my opinion of the field of boat selling. It is good to keep in mind that if the customer’s purchases are being too minimal, you can always start thinking about the potential next purchase the customer will make.

All the aforementioned examples are about the employee being also a representative to the company and the whole brand. Therefore, I have been thinking if the company management or a potential entrepreneur understand how customer service works in his/her company. A few times I have mentioned about the quality of the customer service, but usually the complaints have not had any effects. If the manager does not have the courage to interfere with the employee’s way of working, the company can lose a lot of potential sales. The connection between customer service and making profit is even clearer for a private entrepreneur.

For example, if an IT consultant promises to solve a network problem, but suddenly decides to disappear, the customer will not necessarily call after him. Or if an agreement has been made about electrical installation and the customer finds that the job has been left half done. A long-time cooperation partner could turn a blind eye once or twice for this kind of behavior, but they probably will start thinking of changing business partners and spread the word about the service. Taking a customer for granted is the worst mistake a company can make in terms of maintaining and increasing sales.

Also a customer can demand unreasonable things. If you pay only the minimum price, it is acceptable to expect a good and satisfactory service for your needs, but then you cannot demand a full-service package. An entrepreneur has to be humble while explaining this, and even then you will sometimes get negative feedback. One’s character will be put to test when the feedback is unfair. In these situations, you can think over if you want to be right and get the final word or make a sale. If you find that you lack the humility, then maybe you are not the right sales person for your company.

To end up with a positive experience – The service of our software provider has been slow for a long time. After a message to the CEO, he answered quickly with an apology and in the afternoon the delivery problems were fixed. However, things can’t always be handled by contacting the top management, but it is important to also spread the positive word.

 A column in Kauppalehti by Mikko Ilves: "Entrepreneur, humble yourself and start selling"