Here is why great customer service is important when you are trying to scale your business in Europe.
Several Australian customers of ours are now at a stage where they either have just reached the million Euros in sales or are beyond. At that stage in their development, we are looking for leverage of their current European customer base. That means growing our sales with these current customers.
Whether your European customers are hospitals or large corporates, there is one way to increase your revenue with them. Great customer service is the thing that will help you achieve more revenue from them.
Here is why great customer service is important when you are trying to scale your business in Europe:
First of all, repeat sales come from satisfied customers. The first sale is the easiest one. The next sales require more effort. Once the first deal is signed, the sales teams really make sure that the adoption of the new technology or the new product by our customers is running smoothly. This is where it becomes tricky! Most sales people like to sign and go off to the next deal. Hang on! Once the deal is signed, this is where it all starts! The critical pathway to obtain a satisfied customer is to make sure they fully adopt and love your product.
There are several ways to ensure customer satisfaction. The first step is to train them in the use of your product. Training is key to guarantee adoption of your product. As I write this article in May 2020, Europe is slowly coming out of their confinement. Corona virus has enabled us to train via video conference a high number of new European customers on the adoption of new technologies. When you sell a technology, and there’s no on-boarding of new customers, or no training, your customer may have a bad experience with your product and you are not even aware of it! Down the track you follow-up with them because there is not ordering anymore, and you realise (too late) that their users did not like the product. You may also come across some customers that would use your product the wrong way, and thus not making the most of your product features, or creating issues with your product.
When you are expanding in the European market, these new customers are so important, that you really need to hold their hand until they are fully happy about the adoption of your product. A side benefit to this ‘training & onboarding’ process, is that you are going to learn so much about them and their habits along the way.
Once you have made sure that your new European customers are happy with your product, it’s time to leverage this success! In a large corporate, in a hospital or in a government department, it’s time to check if another department, another division or another subsidiary could also adopt your technology. This is a good way to showcase what your customer has done in their department. Can you make them look good in front of their peers? For you it will always be a faster sales to expand into one single account rather than hunting a brand new European customer!
Second, great customer service is a way to detect leads. Customer service is always seen as a low-value repetitive type of work. I think this is a very under-rated function. If you have a very switched-on and commercial person to run your customer service, you can really increase your revenue ! A great customer service person will detect opportunities. So many times if you solve an issue for your customer and provide excellent service to them, they will make sure to stick with you. Who wants to change a supplier when a product works well and you can get support when you need it? No one! In addition, a talented customer service person that is well trained, will be able to detect an opportunity to sell additional features or service from a conversation. What I also find, when casually following-up with key customers, is that they are not often aware of a new product or feature. A casual ‘check-in’ conversation, is a good opportunity to update your customer on any new service, product or feature you would have and sell them!
If you train your customer service team, they can really boost your sales. It also makes their role more motivating and interesting! This is why I usually like to hire quite senior and switched on people for that role. It is a critical business function when you scale your business internationally.
Thirdly, providing additional customer service could be an additional revenue stream in itself. Why not?! In your business are there some additional services you could charge for? It could be maintenance, training, technical support. What additional service of high value to your customers could you charge for a fee? If your best interest is to provide this service anyway, why wouldn’t you charge for it? I find software companies are usually very good at that. Manufacturers usually don’t always think of what they could charge in addition to their physical product. It’s a very lucrative business model to be able to charge extra services along with your device or machine.
However, it’s really important to make sure this is a real value-added service for your customers. Don’t be that supplier that charges for every single service and provides little value. As a business owner, I usually don’t keep the suppliers that charge me a fee on every single occasion and only provide very little value for it.
That is why building a solid international customer service position is a strategic piece when scaling your business in Europe.
Christelle Damiens is the founder of Exportia, she is also a second time author and speaker. If you would like to know more about scaling your business in Europe, get in touch with Christelle via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to our newsletter here.
Christelle turned her back to a successful career as a sales representative in the corporate world in Europe. When she moved to Australia in 2006, she started Exportia to share the wealth of her Europe-wide sales experiences for a small business as an export manager and as a sales representative at IBM in Paris.
“Having taken dozens of Australian businesses to Europe, I personally know the difficulty for a small business to significantly grow their sales in the European market. It is a very diverse market and small businesses often don’t know where to start. Small business owners are often caught up with running their business and with their domestic market to be able to allocate enough time to the European market. Lowering the risk for small businesses and guiding them to maximise the export sales results are what drives us at Exportia.”
Christelle has also encapsulated her learning into a book called “Ready Tech Go! – A definitive guide to exporting Australian technology to Europe”. French native speaker, fluent in German and English, with Basic Italian and Hindi.