Apply customer service skills before, during and after a sale.
You are the regional sales manager for International Herb Express (IHE) which is a large, US-based spice & herbs supplier. IHE sells to other businesses that purchase bulk spices and spice blends for use in their end products. The primary customers are baking and soup mix corporations that sell to other businesses, for example, bakeries, restaurants, other food-service, and regional grocery chains. IHE is launching a new spice blend that reflects a more diverse cultural & ethnic flavor profile than IHE’s traditional offerings.
The abridged marketing strategy for this new spice blend is to target both current customers, but also to reach new customers that are target regions with higher ethnic diversity and/or the more adventurous “foodies” market. The marketing efforts will focus on taste testing, sampling, and on-site promotion. IHE is launching this marketing plan to help create a product offering that is not as commodity-driven (as most spices and herbs are the same quality no matter where they are purchased) and can potentially offer higher profit margins.
It is important to note that spices and other ingredients are raw goods and traded as commodities. The raw price for these goods changes on a day-to-day basis. Pricing is based on classic supply and demand, though nature is a key contributor to the supply–extreme weather as well as health of crops have a direct impact on the supply chain and access to the raw goods.
As the regional sales manager, you are part of the Customer Service Task Force for IHE. During a monthly meeting, you became aware of a reoccurring challenge the customer service team is experiencing. When current or potential customers contact customer service to inquire about the new ‘spice blend,’ the customer service team cannot answer basic questions or offer a level of service that your sales force often promotes in their communications with buyers. This occurs via telephone and email inquiries as well as when potential clients use your website and social media pages as a point of engagement.
In particular, the customer service team is unable to utilize the training that they have had on handling inquires such as these since the product offering is new and more complex than your day-to-day product offerings.
You need to prepare a training manual that focuses on the new product offering. The training manual will need to include:
- Introduction to build the value of the customer service team supporting the company’s sales efforts
- Key customer service skills and areas of expertise needed to be effective
- Establish a process to guide a customer service team to share basic sales information with customers/potential customers
- A recommendation to utilize customer service technology to enhance the experience for potential customers. (You can assume that the customer service teams have access to technologies such as a CRM package, social media accounts, website FAQ’s, etc.)
Please note any details not noted above can be created by the student, but must be consistent with acceptable and common business scenarios.