I’m at the DSA Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, the attendance is strongest I’ve seen in a few years. It’s a good sign that confidence is rising and people are getting back to work, smarter and leaner than ever before.
My workshop on “Hearts & Smarts” was well attended, roughly 60 participants. The “traditionals” and “baby-boomers” sat audience left, and Y-Gen and X-Gen on the right (best I could tell). We jumped in with the basics of the distributor service department mission:
- Create Happy Distributors
- Improve the Company
- Develop Service Professionals
Building on “Business in HD” (Happy Distributors as well as High Definition), we explored that High Def is the important definition around staff selection and development (selecting people who possess the soft skills–”heart”– and the hard skills–”smarts”) along with implementing distributor service best practices. Participants who register at the ServiceQuest website will receive a copy of the book Hearts & Smarts when it is released.Read More
Standard practice is to establish a time limit for returns. In addition, prudence-as well as the pertinent MLM and Party Plan regulations-suggests that you have a sound basis for not accepting product which has been used or damaged (other than by shipping considerations), or is outdated or expired, and is otherwise not resalable.
The law requires that you purchase back product from a canceling distributor if the product is in resalable condition, and if the product was purchased within 90 days of the requested refund. The refund can be adjusted for as much as 10% for handling and re-stocking, less any commissions or rebates paid to the distributor returning the products. This is a standard provision that will appear in your distributor agreement and company policies and procedures. (If not, quickly get in touch with an MLM attorney specializing in our industry.)Read More
Product returns are a fact of business life in direct selling, multilevel (MLM) and party plan companies. Returning merchandise via the USPS is an annoyance to the customer. First, if the order has been opened, the product has to be carefully re-wrapped; next, it has to be taken to the Post Office, where long delays may be encountered; and finally, the customer has to pay the return postage and insurance. This article explores ways to reduce this burden and irritation.
Naturally, the goal is a happy customer, ecstatic MLM distributors and thrilled Party Plan consultants. If you pause to think about it, the better job you do of keeping your promises, the better chance you have that expectations will be met because promises are kept. This begins with product that fulfills the promise, compensation plans that do what they say, and fulfillment on time every time. Visualize the customer receiving his or her order-or commission check-opening the box-or the envelope-and experiencing excitement or disappointment. Every element leading up to that experience must be in your focus as you design the system for fulfilling your promise.Read More
The ServiceQuest® system was established to fulfill a substantial need for companies lacking sound MLM and Party Plan customer service and internal operations systems in their quest for delivering on their promises.
In working with and visiting scores of customer service operations all across the nation, the founders of ServiceQuest are often struck by a surprising situation. The companies have not documented any customer service policies, or if such policies have been formulated, those employees who must implement them: (a) are not aware of the rules applying to their jobs; (b) are functioning under some outdated policies not in effect for many months or even years, or (c) don’t know how or where to find the applicable policies. In addition, when employees don’t know the ground rules, one should not hold them at fault. Management is deficient.Read More
Acknowledging that we make mistakes, being proactive about building goodwill will distinguish your company from the competition. This article offers tested and proven recommendations for building goodwill throughout the MLM and Party Plan organizations (and hence, a sound reputation) as well as re-building goodwill when you have goofed.
- One effective, caring goodwill gesture can compensate for as many as ten poor-service experiences
- Empower your service staff with the tools for rebuilding goodwill
- Teach them to spot opportunities to rebuild goodwill
- Establish “goodwill” accounts for them to spend on rebuilding goodwill
- Discretionary dollars (with guidelines and accountability)
- Discretionary product give-away (with guidelines and accountability
- Regularly report goodwill accounts
- Track goodwill dollars as a percentage of sales
- Track and report by rep (in order to give rep the feedback about how they are doing versus guidelines and departmental standards)
- Make sure that customer service employees are selected for their “people” skills (good communicators, empathetic, reliable to follow through, intelligent thinkers and analysts, etc.)
When you think you are doing a good job of handling inquiries, complaints, and adjustments, and you are processing all customer mail in one or two days, and calls are coming through at your determined standard with a low abandon rate, how else can you be sure your MLM distributors and customers are truly satisfied and that your MLM customer service objectives are fulfilled?
A survey conducted by Consumer Dimensions of North Brunswick, NJ, a company specializing in consumer relations, showed that 52 percent of all consumers were “disappointed” “annoyed,” or “angry” with the responses they received after contacting a company to complain about a product or service.Read More
Multilevel marketing (MLM) and Party Plan companies thrive and survive on relationships, and because their continued existence depends on the customer service environment that you create within your culture, you must make the commitment to become the undisputed leader in service and support.
Working in a customer service or returns department can be satisfying, nerve wracking and even amusing. Frustrated field reps and customers often take very unusual actions. Here are some examples:
- Returned merchandise is enclosed in a large package that also contains the sender’s garbage.
- The complainer works in a computer department, so she prepares the complaint in the form of a floppy disk that must be fed into a computer for translation into plain language. When translated, it reads, “I can’t get anything accomplished with humans, will you please help me?”
- The complainer makes many photocopies of his original complaint and mails one each day until he obtains a satisfactory answer.
- A business reply envelope is returned with hundreds of dead flies and insects.
- A complaint is written in poetry with the hope that it is more likely to get attention.
- A letter is taped to a 10 foot by 10-foot piece of plywood with the notation, “I am sure this won’t get lost in your system.”
- Bullets are enclosed in the envelope with instructions to the president of the company to “blow his head off.”