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.”
This article addresses sorting of incoming mail for MLM and Party Plan customer service departments. For companies whose practice it is to simply assign incoming mail by number of pieces to each correspondent, the question arises as to the equitable allocation of work and whether this practice is an inefficient distribution of the workload. Some employees end up with a preponderance of easier problems while less-experienced personnel often have to grapple with matters beyond their capabilities. This article discusses how to distribute the mail.
If there is one aspect of structuring a response group that has to be emphasized, it is the importance of the “Sort.” The business axiom of “plan your work then work your plan” has far-reaching implications in this step of your business cycle. Because the sorting function is so important, it should not be assigned to the most-recently-hired or lowest-paid employee. Those assigned to sorting the mail in the customer service department should be among the most experienced and best-paid workers in the group. In a small operation, the manager should perform this function. In some other operations, the team leaders perform the overall departmental sort. Thus, the first step is to assign the sorting function to the right people.Read More
This articles addresses MLM customer service standards that we observe in the “superstar” service-givers. Multilevel marketing (MLM) and Party Plan companies are built 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.
Objectives for the MLM Customer Service Superstar
- Be a Perfect Problem Solver
- Be a Warm, Caring Human Being
Perfect Problem Solving by the MLM Customer Service Superstar
- Knowledge in the following areas
- Compensation Plan
- Policies & Procedures
- Company Resources
- Skills in these crucial interpersonal areas
- Issue identification
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Company Support from the top down
- Customer Service Calls It, We Support It
- Measure, Report, Reward
- Systems Support (Computer, Work Flow)
- Follow-up as a way of life
- Close Each Case with Speed and Care
- Identify Dangers and Opportunities
PERFECT PROBLEM SOLVING by the MLM Customer Service Superstar
Make sure every customer service rep has the knowledge required to be perfect problem solvers.
- Compensation Plan — Certification program: know the compensation plan and be able to apply knowledge to a variety of situations to build solutions to all the problems and concerns of Marketing Executives
- Products — Product champions: know the literature and all training offered regarding products; be users of the products, be able to confidently and knowledgeably answer the important basic questions about the products, and be able to administer a technical product question referral.
- Policies and Procedures — Demonstrate Understanding and proficiency in the basis of each formal policy, in order to consistently administer interpretations and applications of the policies, and to assure that the underlying intent of each policy drives both administration and systems support of the policies. Know the policies so well that it is easy to find a way to say “yes” to a customer’s request.
- Company Resources — Know how to obtain all the information necessary to confidently fulfill the customer service mission of WOW-ing customers.
A great deal is written about customer service, and the best companies devote substantial resources to developing superstars. MLM customer service and Party Plan support systems demand the very best in a competitive environment.
Since multilevel marketing (MLM) and Party Plan compensation systems thrive and survive on relationships, and because their continued existence is wholly dependent on the customer service environment that you create within your culture, making the commitment to become a leader in customer service and support is essential to your long-term success. And by applying these concepts and using these tools, and others presented in the series on MLM customer service, you may become better service-givers in the exciting world of multilevel marketing and party plan distribution.Read More
Good MLM and Party Plan companies constantly seek ways to acknowledge and reward people in their telephone and customer service Junctions based on both their production and quality. A great deal is written about rewarding employees. Below is a framework for analyzing the options which are open to you, and which directions you might wish to go.
In a study of consumer complaint handling in industry, government, and retailing conducted for the Consumer Affairs Council, it was reported that over 40 percent of the companies surveyed provide customer service personnel with some sort of incentives. Furthermore, those offering incentives generally provided a higher level of customer service.
Incentives are also effectively applied in companies employing telephone marketing, inbound sales, direct marketing, and direct selling. Of the 181 companies that responded to an Employment Survey of the Direct Marketing Association’s Telephone Marketing Council, many indicated that they employ incentives in the telephone marketing function. Thirty-two percent provide recognition incentives; 26 percent cash; 21 percent events or parties; and 21 percent merchandise. In smaller call center functions, however, less than a quarter provide any type of incentives.
There are two basic types of incentives: (a) cash payments; and (b) non-monetary rewards. Each of these will be discussed separately, particularly as they apply to call center services and customer service.
Cash Payments The use of cash incentives as motivators, when personnel have direct contact (by phone or mail) with customers, has always been controversial. Questions are frequently raised as to whether commissions to retail sales clerks and telephone order takers or production bonuses to those responding to service calls or letters might degrade the overall service level.
Some executives suggest that employees could become more interested in increasing their own earnings than genuinely attempting to help the customer with his or her shopping or service problem.
Notwithstanding the above concern, cash incentives have proven to be very effective with a number of companies in increasing both sales and worker productivity. Further, those companies with professionally developed programs do not report any adverse effect on MLM and Party Plan customer relations. Here are three examples of the successful application of cash incentives.
- Telephone order clerks are paid a percentage of the sales dollars of “specials” they personally sell to customers.
- Telephone order clerks are given a monthly cash bonus based on the total dollar amount of orders taken over a predetermined base (hourly, daily, weekly, etc.). In both examples, payment is based on orders actually shipped.
- Customer service correspondents are paid an incentive bonus for production above a standard processing volume. Separate standards are established for simple and complex problems. Work is assigned to correspondents based on complexity.
This refers to anything from addition of gold stars on identification badges to personal commendations by senior management. One executive said, “There can’t be too much in the way of acknowledging the contributions of top-notch customer service personnel.”
A wide variety of non-monetary rewards have been put to use, most with very positive results. Here are a few.
- Selection of one or more customer service representatives-of-the-month who are rewarded with one of the following:
- Preferential parking spaces
- Flowers at the work place
- Trophy placed on the desk for the month
- Announcement and picture on the bulletin board and in the company newsletter
- Naming of a space and putting up a sign (“The Chris Starr Lunchroom”)
- Sending letters of commendation addressed to the residences of top performers
- Presentation of a merchandise certificate of nominal value or tickets to sporting, musical or cultural events when an employee receives compliments from four customers, indicating something extraordinary in the way of service.
- Giving outstanding representatives the latest management/business best sellers or a subscription to a business publication.
- Luncheon or dinner (sometimes spouses are invited, too) when an individual or department exceeds its sales or production goals.
- Sending employees to special seminars, workshops outside the company, covering topics related to customer service.
- Award of a pin, certificate, or achievement plaque for “plus performance,” with presentation made in front of colleagues by a member of senior management.
- Creating a “Best Accomplishments Of The Year” booklet and include the picture, name and statement of the best customer service achievements.
In sum, there is positive evidence that monetary, semi-monetary, and non-monetary rewards, or a mix of these, all play an important role and encourage telephone and customer service personnel to help customers effectively. Since multilevel marketing (MLM) and Party Plan compensation systems thrive and survive on relationships, and because their continued existence is wholly dependent on the customer service environment that you create within your culture, making the commitment to become a leader in customer service and support is essential to your long-term success. By applying these concepts and using these tools, and others presented in the series on MLM customer service, you may become better service-givers in the exciting world of MLM and party plan distribution.Read More