While my experience has been sales and then marketing, I also carry a revenue responsibility.
When you carry a revenue responsibility, managing client engagement becomes a major task.
A lot of times deciphering the why behind the what becomes a tight rope walk. Especially when you are selling services, where, unlike in the case of a product, the boundaries are not clearly defined, managing the gap between the customer expectations and the delivery of services is an every day challenge
One thing I have found useful is to pre-empt the conversation. You don’t give a chance to the customer to come and complain. You go and tell her the challenge, what could be the impact and how you think you are going to solve it. Then you ask the customer for suggestions so that she sees herself as superior to you, which helps manage her ego . Also since you have informed her of the problem, before she could complain, she is now partly responsible for finding the solution. This affirmative action also increases trust.
A lot of the out-bursts which happen when a customer complains, can be completely avoided if we pre-empt things. However most service delivery people are scared to do this out of fear, that the customer will fire them, not realizing that the firing in a complaint situation is even worse.
If you are in services, its always a good idea to pre-empt the conversation if you want to be successful.
Till next time then.