We all know that customers aren’t just influenced by products and services when choosing who to give their business to – it is the customer experience that comes with buying them that has a bigger effect. The necessity and quality of your products is indeed important, but every market has its players; every company has at least one competitor, and as a result, customers can nearly always choose to have their needs met elsewhere.
This is why product knowledge is so important within any company. Demonstrating strong knowledge and expertise of your products is crucial for creating a positive customer experience and instilling faith and trust within the customer. Without accurate or available product knowledge, your products may as well be worthless. Yet many companies fail to do this well.
Covering the basics
Building a dependable product knowledge base within your employees all starts from the bottom, when you are developing your product and establishing your brand value. Your company needs to be able to answer the basics about your product in order to clearly convey where it fits in with the rest of society. Consider the following:
- What is the purpose of your product or service for the customer?
- How can it be described? (size, shape, colour, function, benefits)
- How can customers access it; how is it delivered to them?
- How much does it cost and what are the conditions for its use?
There are other questions and aspects of your product that you are recommended to consider for your own benefit. These include:
- Why your brand is the best avenue through which to obtain the product
- Availability of the product, and how economical or sustainable it is to produce
- The wider implications of using your product, environmentally or socially
- Whether your product is likely to be around for a long time (longevity), or whether it is time-sensitive or dependent on certain conditions (like environment or location).
All of this information must be relayed as readily as possible, both in verbal and written practice. It is one thing to provide the back story of your product, along with its uses and benefits, on the pages of your website or within your product literature or brochures. But your staff and salespeople need to be able to deliver it too, by retaining all of this information and being able to explain it in a simplified, customer-centric way.
Technical jargon across all of your customer touch points is not recommended – this can turn customers away and fail to tell them what they really need to know, which is, “How can this product help me?”
This is, of course, where your sales and customer service reps really come into their own.
A tailored customer experience
Ask any customer about what makes a great customer experience and they will usually mention something pertaining to genuineness, uniqueness and a human touch. Customers like it when they are treated like people, so a customer service rep that pays close attention to their needs is much more likely to gain a sale.
This is an area where product knowledge is crucial, as it means understanding your product so thoroughly that your reps are able to make it work for any customer. A wider knowledge that is more in-depth is the best way of ensuring your staff will be able to help that particular customer and offer a unique, personalised service that is sure to impress.
At LUSH Cosmetics, new recruits are trained to know almost every single product inside and out before hitting the shop floors, and even then there is continuously more to be learned. “It is vital that our teams understand the products they are selling so they can find the correct product – not just sell them the latest favourite,” LUSH co-founder Rowena Bird says.
Similarly, the customer service teams of mobile network companies like T-Mobile won’t just try to sell handsets, but will make the customer’s choice more affordable by offering them bespoke packages to make the product more affordable. This might involve buying a lower end package with added-on extras so the customer gets everything they’re looking for, or offering an updated version of an older handset.
Either way, it is this ability to recommend the best option to the customer based on their needs, desires or circumstances that shows you have their best interests at heart. This in turn builds trust between business and customer and leaves the customer feeling assured and positive about their purchase.
Benefits over features
While listing your product’s features enables the customer to make an informed decision on their own, it can also leave them feeling a little overwhelmed with information and at worst, unable to see what value the product will have in their own lives.
You must therefore be able to explain exactly how the product could make a difference to the customer – whether it will make them look better; feel better, or their life easier; happier; healthier or more productive. This again is where your knowledgeable and perceptive customer service reps come in.
And what’s the best way to get to know any product? By using it, of course. It is recommended that all employees go through the process of purchasing your product and have a go at using it themselves. This will enable them to see the unique benefits it could potentially bring from a first-hand perspective. They will be essentially stepping into the shoes of your customers and see the product’s functions and features in whole new light.
Looking from the outside in
And last of all, don’t forget customer feedback – that vital thing that gives you precious insight into what your customers really think, and enables employees to expand their knowledge.
When asking your customers for feedback via surveys, ratings or emails, be sure to ask that they are as honest as possible. It is only by knowing both the good and bad aspects of your products that you will be able to overcome problems and grow your company knowledge.
The growth of any new product or business is a journey that the whole team should embark on together. Above all, remember that every setback is just another opportunity to learn.Comments