· a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.
Examples: 1) lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist in a band 2) The Red Sox and the Yankees 3) Sales and Customer Service. Okay, the Red Sox and Yankees could be a reach. But let’s face it, the two organizations benefit from their rivalry through increased ticket sales every time the two teams play each other. The fans (customers) are the ultimate beneficiaries, witnessing playoff level performances at every game!
So why Sales and Customer Service? The two groups are inextricably linked, a part of the customer experience fabric. Having spent many years in both professions I am uniquely qualified to be a pundit. I have always thought that when sales and customer service work together as a team, the customer benefits. It is an evolving relationship with the customer. The sales phase is the courtship while the customer service phase is the ongoing relationship. A customer’s lasting impression of your brand is the sales and customer service experience. When customer service is delivered in a convenient, efficient, empathetic, and customer-centric way, it is a competitive advantage.
When a customer invests in your brand, it is not only a financial commitment, but an emotional one as well. Take capital equipment as an example. At the purchase point there is a level of excitement and anticipation on the customer’s part that this newly purchased equipment will contribute to gaining incremental customers, revenue and profit. The customer expects that their investment will perform as advertised, and that issues will be kept to a minimum. Problems and performance issues often equate to inefficiency, lower production yields and equipment downtime, leading to potential lost opportunities, a longer-term return-on-investment, and frustration for everyone involved.
Get Ahead of Your Competitors…Anticipate Your Customer’s Needs!
How your company onboards a new or existing customer is critical to happy customer experiences. Tools and services provided should include:
1. An introduction to the customer service team, specifically those individuals that will be servicing the customer.
2. An online “Getting Started Guide” which includes available resources and how to access them, as well as a “How to Guide”.
3. A review of the warranty entitlements and the different service contract offerings.
4. A review of how to find part information and the different purchase channel options available.
- User training which can be online, in-person or a combination of both.
- Maintenance training (if applicable)
- Best practices training
A well-defined, customer-centric, onboarding process goes a long way toward minimizing customer frustration and keeping them from considering your competitor for their next purchase.
“Customer empathy, overcommunication, and a well-defined plan to resolution”
In a customer service situation, your brand is first and foremost being measured by customer effort (CE). How easy did your company make it for the customer to handle their issue? This metric is both time and emotion based. A customer is more likely to rank your company a 9 or a 10 in an NPS survey (willingness to recommend your brand to a “friend or colleague”) if an issue is resolved quickly and with minimal effort and contact on their part. If your customer must make multiple communications with different touchpoints over a longer period, even a “heroic” effort to resolve the issue often leaves an emotional scar. The reality is that issues are not always resolved quickly. Customer empathy, overcommunication, and a well-defined plan to resolution, shared with the customer, is the best course of action.
Customer Service Disfunction is an Open Door to Your Competition
Customer service channels need to be seamless to the customer. Channel switching and channel abandonment leads to an increase in customer effort, frustration, and issue resolution time. Customer service channels must be a collaboration to yield positive customer outcomes. Effective communication between customer service groups, along with sharing common goals and objectives, metrics and incentives that encourage a quick, effective, and positive resolution to a customer’s issue is essential to delivering a positive customer experience.
Excellent Customer Service Experiences is the Ultimate Competitive Advantage!
When your company’s customer service consistently delivers excellent customer experiences, the reward is new and repeat business increasing the top line and positively impacting the bottom line. It is a competitive advantage that the sales team can use to bring in new customers. Now that is a symbiotic relationship!
Patrick Sandefur is the Founder and Managing Director of Bass Harbor Group / Customer Experience Solutions. His 30+ year career in Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Product Management and Business Development has given him a unique perspective of what customers want and expect when interacting with a brand.
Read more from Patrick Sandefur by clicking on recent posts below.