ECONOMY

Experts teach salespeople ways to improve their customer service

Jeffrey Gitomer, an internationally renowned expert in customer service, will be the keynote speaker tomorrow at the 2nd Customer Service Summit, organized by the Hellenic Customer Service Institute (EIEP). The summit’s theme will be «Customer Loyalty and Retention» and will also feature Paul Winterburn, the founder of the company Your Customer, whose training branch Hearts & Minds delivers training programs for frontline sellers. «Anyone who has an answer to everything is someone who probably has no time to listen to what he is told,» writes Gitomer, the author of «Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless» and of «The Sales Bible.» He expects sellers to be not only devoted but actually «crusaders of sales.» «The Crusades were more than just religious wars. They were for those people who fought with passion for what they believed in. They did it regardless of all the adversity, deprivations and risks. Would you do it? Are you a sales crusader?» he asks. Gitomer explains that selling is not a religion, but can be a way of life. With specific pieces of advice he methodically unfolds the «carpet» on which the ambitious seller can march to success. In one of his articles, he says that in success and in failure the responsibility is always ours, reminding that «failure is a fact, not a person.» He also breaks down failure on various levels: The first five include the failures to do what is best, to learn, to accept responsibility, to be aware of predetermined targets and to have positive behavior. «It was hard for me to concentrate on the negatives, but I felt it was the best way to disseminate the following message: If you are not strong in one of those, it is essential that you make a change as soon as possible.» Giorgos Panigirakis, marketing professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business and chairman of EIEP, confirms that in today’s environment of intensive business changes, there are many companies which try to apply activities and programs for improvement in customer service and place customers at the center of their operations. «In the last few years, there has been a swing by companies from customer satisfaction to customer loyalty and retention,» he argues. Such changes in trends are monitored closely by EIEP, as the choice of the summit’s theme shows. The central idea for this event is that «the profits of companies are not measured only by the quantity of sales anymore, but to a great extent by the maintenance of perfect customer relations and the development of loyal customers. The companies’ ability to attract new customers and turn their existing ones into ‘battling ambassadors’ of the company strengthens their capacity to expand steadily in the long term,» suggests Panigirakis. At the summit, he will present the course of EIEP’s development and refer to its achievements and activities. The success of this second summit is secured by that of the first summit, last November, which was attended by 470 Greek market professionals, as well as marked by the experience and education of the keynote speakers and the round-table discussion by the Greek market leaders who were invited. Other speakers include Dr Vassilis Masoulas of Microsoft, who will talk how to achieve the «Improvement in the Experience of Customers and the Company’s Associates,» and Stephanie Edwards, special project manager of the Customer Service Institute in Britain, on the awarding of special distinctions. Kathimerini is one of the sponsors. For more information, contact EIEP on tel 210.802.1145 or visit www.customerservice.gr.