Four questions prospective utility customers won’t ask

Phoenix, AZ, April 9, 2008 — A utility’s prospective customers always have lots of questions as they decide whether to buy a product or service, but there are questions they don’t ask that can make or break a sale.

“A utility’s customers won’t come right out and ask questions about trust, respect and value, but they are wondering about those things as they interact with customer service representatives,” says David Saxby, president of Measure-X, a company that specializes in helping utilities improve their customer service and sales. “The perception they have of the utility will be formed in their mind as they collect answers to those questions.”

Saxby says utilities need to be aware of the following four questions that may be topmost in a customer’s mind but that won’t be blatantly asked.

Question 1. What value do you bring that others don’t? “When a prospective customer believes that you offer superior value, they simply want to trust you more,” Saxby says. “It’s important to effectively communicate and emphasize the value or benefit you bring to the table. The more clearly you demonstrate how your product or service can improve their business or personal life, the more the customer will want to find you trustworthy.”

Question 2. What’s in it for you? “It’s normal for a customer to wonder what the utility gets out of the sale,” Saxby explains. “Obviously, you make a profit, but the customer often wonders why you think he should buy, buy now and buy from you. To keep this question from getting in the way of a sale, focus the conversation on outcomes and objectives that benefit the customer. Customers listen to what you say. Focus on what’s of value to the customer.”

Question 3. Are you competent enough to deliver on your commitments? “Customers gauge your ability to deliver on large commitments by how you handle the small ones,” Saxby says. “Something as trivial as forgetting to send an e-mail you promised or failing to respond with requested information may not seem like a major offense to you, but in the early stages of a relationship, these simple things may be the only foundation from which your customer can judge whether you can be trusted.”

Question 4. Do you respect me enough to deliver on your commitments? “Trust and respect go hand in hand in customer relations,” Saxby says. “It’s impossible to trust someone we don’t respect, but it’s easy to trust someone we do respect and who we believe respects us. Earning your customer’s respect is critical. Your attitude and behavior help to earn your customer’s respect, as does showing him respect.”

Prospective customers may not come right out and ask about such intangibles as trust and respect, but they do wonder about them, Saxby says. “If customers sense trust, respect and value in their interactions with your utility, they are more likely to feel good about doing business with you.”

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