Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

2.5. Apply product and/or service knowledge to provide effective customer service

ryanrori January 28, 2021

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Knowledge is power and for retailers, product knowledge can mean more sales. It is difficult to effectively sell to a consumer if we cannot show how a particular product will address a shopper’s needs.

The importance of product and/or service knowledge to answer questions

Having a thorough understanding of the products they sell can help a Customer Service Representative to use different techniques and methods of presenting the product to customers.  At the same time the importance of product and/or service knowledge in order to answer any product and/or service related questions cannot be stressed enough.

Boosts Enthusiasm

Hearing someone’s completely enthusiastic about a product is one of the best-selling tools. As you generate excitement for the product, you remove any uncertainty the product may not be the best solution for that customer. The easiest way to become enthusiastic is to truly believe in the product.

Grows Confidence

If a customer isn’t fully committed to completing a sale, the difference may simply be the presence (or lack) of confidence the representative has towards the product. Becoming educated in the product and its uses will help cement that confidence.

Assists in Overcoming Objections

Objections made by customers may be struck down with factual information regarding the product. That information usually comes in the form of product knowledge. Being well versed in not only your products, but similar products sold by competitors, allows you to easily counter objections.

How to Gain Product Knowledge:

  • Marketing Literature 
  • Sales Reps 
  • Training Sessions 
  • Testimonials 
  • Role Playing 
  • Practical Use

Describe each product and/or service – benefits, features and product or service related information

It is important to understand how the product is made, the value of the product, how the product should and can be used, and what products work well together.

What to Know About Your Products:

  • Pricing structure 
  • Styles, colours or models available 
  • History of the product 
  • Any special manufacturing process 
  • How to use the product 
  • Product distribution and delivery 
  • Servicing, warranty and repair information

It may take a while to easily articulate your product knowledge, especially with new products, but over time you’ll become comfortable and confident in providing the correct information to shoppers. That confidence will pay off in improved sales results.

The distinction between the terms benefits and features is an important concept in developing and marketing a product or service. 

Features are characteristics that your product or service does or has. For example, some ovens include features such as self-cleaning, smooth stovetops, warming bins, or convection capabilities.

Benefits are the reasons customers buy the product or service. For example, the benefits of some ovens to buyers include safety, ease of use, affordability, or—in the case of many ovens that feature stainless steel casings—prestige.

Just like products, services differ from one another in having distinctive features and benefits, though these differences may not always be so obvious to potential customers. One building contractor may use master painters while a second uses labourers to paint. Both will tell you they do painting, but one has master painters (a feature) and produces a better-looking paint job (a definite benefit).

Every product or service has a purpose. For example, the purpose of an oven is to bake raw food, but not all ovens have the same features and benefits.

The uniqueness of a product or service can set it apart from the competition. Features can communicate the capability of a product or service. But features are only valuable if customers see those particular features as valuable. You want products or services with features which customers perceive as valuable benefits. By highlighting benefits in marketing and sales efforts, you’ll increase your sales and profits.

It’s important to remember that customers buy products and services because they want to solve a problem or meet a need. Consciously or unconsciously, your customers will always be asking the question, “What’s in it for me?” Your product and service offerings have to deliver solutions and satisfy needs, or they won’t be successful.

Given that benefits are ultimately more important to your customers than features, it is imperative that you understand the benefits your products and services provide, emphasise these benefits in your sales efforts, and update your products and services when new or additional benefits are desired by your customers.

Think about how automotive manufacturers advertise. To sell minivans, they don’t emphasise the layout of the vehicle or its carrying capacity. They show images of happy families loading their kids, sports equipment, and toys into the vehicle. They emphasise the benefits above and beyond the features.

Here are some other examples emphasising benefits beyond the features:

  • A Web site shopping cart vendor who offers hosted solutions to medium-sized businesses can emphasise the convenience and time-savings of not having to maintain a Web site. It’s selling convenience, not software.
  • A carpet company might be more successful if it illustrated how its carpets could help create attractively decorated interiors. Pictures of beautiful rooms could be more beneficial than a stack of carpet samples or a list of fabric features. It’s selling beauty, not carpets. 
  • A consulting company might focus its marketing efforts by highlighting its end product—improved performance and increased profits—not its consulting methods. It’s selling profitability, not consulting. 
  • A manufacturer of computer printers might emphasise less hassle or less wasted time rather than emphasising reliability or quality. It’s selling ease-of-use, not printers, and not quality. 
  • A salmon fishery might emphasise the health benefits of eating salmon. It’s selling health, not fish.