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The alarming disconnect between the disciplines of sales and customer service

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Research conducted by a leading international training consultancy has uncovered an alarming disconnect between customer service and sales training.

Having worked extensively with three high-profile multinational corporations over the past six months, Sales Commando has discovered that customer service was often regarded as something outside the sphere of the sales team.

Sales Commando’s Doug Tucker confesses that he is surprised by the findings: “If the concept of customer service is not built into the sales philosophy from the beginning, there could be trouble ahead. If you are a talented sales professional you can sell anything to anyone – once. The real challenge involves building relationships with clients so that you are the first person that they think of when they need to buy the type of product or service that you are offering, and that they recommend you to others.”

It is the shift in emphasis from one-on-one customer contact, which was the norm until relatively recently, to high density call centres, which has been largely responsible for the separation of sales and customer care. This has resulted in a generation of sales teams who have forgotten the essentials of customer service. Tucker believes that the model of ‘battery-farm’ style call centres, backed by an impregnable customer care section that does more to protect the company’s sales figures than help the client, has been especially injurious. “Very often these call centres only allow their sales team to operate from a script, which is a disaster for them because they have no autonomy and are effectively unable to build up a proper relationship with the clients. However, it is even more harmful for the client, who is often badly let down once the sale has been closed. Thankfully, current trends indicate that these are being phased out.”

The findings uncovered by the work Sales Commando has recently carried out point towards the need for massively improved sales training, which should considerably lessen the need for an overloaded customer services department. “When your clients imagine that sales always involves them feeling bullied and rushed into making a decision that they may well later regret, it makes everyone’s life more difficult and less pleasant. What this ultimately means is that you have to spend a lot of time overcoming resistance to your profession before you can get down to the business of promoting your product,” says Tucker.

“The point is that there are a number of measures that can be taken to ensure that customers feel that their needs are being met by the sales team. This should be accomplished at the point of sale but, if it isn’t, this means that the customer service department is likely to be overworked.

“Sales teams need to be armed with the ability to develop long-lasting relationships with clients, so it was quite shocking to hear that so many companies are still failing to provide their sales people with the tools that they need to do their job effectively and efficiently. Customers should feel that they can speak to their contact in sales at any time and voice their concerns and reservations. My belief is that sales professionals should always take the extra step. Doing a little bit more than your job requires is an excellent investment for the future.”

Tucker’s years spent equipping trainees with all the skills that they will need for a successful career and the customer care component is a key aspect of this: “Sometimes it’s as simple as answering your phone and making sure that you’re available to iron out any problems as they arise, not making promises that you cannot keep and being helpful, even when there is no immediate profit in it. Just remember that nobody has ever complained that their sales contact has over-delivered.”

 

 

 

 

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Mercedes unveils electric compact SUV in bid to outdo Tesla

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Mercedes unveils electric compact SUV in bid to outdo Tesla 1

By Nick Carey

(Reuters) – Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday unveiled the EQA, a new electric compact SUV as part of plans to take on rival Tesla Inc and offer more emission-free vehicles to consumers to meet targets in Europe and China.

The EQA, the first of several electric models Mercedes-Benz plans to launch this year, will initially have a range of 426 kilometres (265 miles), with a 500km model coming later, the premium brand carmaker said in a video presentation.

The SUV will go on sale in Europe on Feb 4 at what board of management Britta Seeger described as “very attractive price points”.

Electric vehicle (EV) sales took off in Europe last year as carmakers scrambled to meet European Union CO2 emissions targets. Sales received a boost from subsidies included in economic stimulus measures rolled out in France and Germany, in particular.

Sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid models rose 122% across the EU through the first three quarters of 2020.

Mercedes-Benz describes the EQA as an “urban entry model” and board member Seeger touted its “sustainability, versatility and fresh look”.

Electric carmaker Tesla got a head start on traditional carmakers with their vast investments in fossil-fuel vehicles and has dominated global sales. The mass-market Tesla Model 3 is the world’s best-selling EV, followed in distant second place by Renault’s Zoe.

As well as emissions targets, carmakers face bans on fossil-fuel vehicles that come into effect as early as 2030 in some markets.

(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Jason Neely)

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Wetherspoon shares higher after raising cash at top end of expectations

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Wetherspoon shares higher after raising cash at top end of expectations 2

(Reuters) – Britain’s Wetherspoon priced its sale of 93.7 million pounds ($127.92 million) worth of new shares at the top end of its expected range on Wednesday, a signal of confidence from investors that pushed the pub operator’s shares 3% higher in morning trade.

The cheap beer specialist said 8.4 million new shares had been placed at 1,120 pence per share – a discount of over 5% to Tuesday’s closing price, but the proceeds raised were at the top of the range it had given when announcing the offer a day earlier.

“We like Wetherspoon’s relentless consumer focus, employee engagement, largely freehold estate and history of evolution. This profile should allow JDW to fast return to its former profitability,” Jefferies analysts said.

Following strict COVID-19 led curbs in December, England went into its third national lockdown earlier this month.

The pandemic-hit hospitality industry has laid off thousands of workers, with Wetherspoon cutting jobs at its head office and airport pubs.

The company said on Tuesday it expects pubs to remain shut until March and that the fresh funds would provide enough liquidity to deal with very low sales after reopening.

It is also considering buying properties in central London, freehold reversions of pubs of where it is currently the tenant, and properties close to successful pubs in an effort to cash in on declining property prices.

“It has a young customer base who have been less fearful of venturing out when restrictions do ease, which does bode well for recovery unless there is another twist in the trajectory of the virus,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter said.

Wetherspoon, which has seen no sales since shutting all its pubs from Dec. 31, had expected the placing to raise between 92.1 million pounds and 93.7 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7325 pounds)

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)

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UK regulator slams waiting times, patient records at trans clinic

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UK regulator slams waiting times, patient records at trans clinic 3

By Rachel Savage

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – England’s only youth gender identity clinic faced criticism on Wednesday from the country’s health regulator, which said patients “at risk of self-harm” were waiting too long to access specialist care.

A report by the Care Quality Commission rated the clinic run by London’s Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust as “inadequate” – the worst of four ratings – and said 26% of patients waited more than two years for their first appointment.

Two thirds of patients referred to a specialist at the Gender Identity Development Service had to wait for more than a year.

“Many of the young people waiting for or receiving a service were very vulnerable and at risk of self-harm,” the report said.

“The size of the waiting list meant that staff could not proactively monitor the risks to all patients waiting for their first appointment,” the report added, noting a sharp increase in referrals from 77 in 2009/10 to more than 2,700 in 2019/20.

The regulator’s criticism follows a high-profile court ruling last month that stopped doctors from being able to prescribe puberty-blocking drugs to under-16s without a judge’s approval.

Trans activists point to studies showing the drugs may help alleviate mental health issues trans young people suffer going through puberty in their birth sex, but others say the drugs have unknown long-term mental and physical effects.

The High Court ruling fueled a global debate about the age a child can transition gender.

The Tavistock, which was granted leave to appeal the judgment this week, said it took the Care Quality Commission’s report “very seriously”.

“(We) would like to say sorry to patients for the length of time they are waiting to be seen,” a spokesman for the Tavistock said in an emailed statement.

“We very much accept the need for improvements in our assessments, systems and processes … and will be agreeing a full action plan with the CQC to address further concerns.”

England’s National Health Service (NHS) said it had “previously recognised the need for a review of how to best meet the needs of children and young people with gender incongruence”.

It launched an independent review of the gender identity service in September.

Late last year, a transgender teenager took legal action against the NHS over the long wait to see a specialist at the Tavistock clinic. Under NHS rules, specialist care should be available within 18 weeks.

Besides the concern over waiting times, the Care Quality Commission criticised the clinic over the quality of its medical records.

“There was no clear rationale for clinical decision making,” it said.

(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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