Service after the sale has a significant impact on whether your customers will purchase more or purchase from you again. How are you influencing sales and customer service alignment?
A 2009 Strativity group study of 930 consumers in North America uncovered that:
- 73% of consumers stated that they would expand their purchases with a vendor by 10% or more if the customer experience was superior
- 55% of consumers agreed that they would stay with a vendor for 10 years or more as long as the experience was superior
- 58% said they would recommend companies that deliver superior customer experiences to others
- 44% of consumers would be willing to pay a premium price of 5% or more for a superior customer experience
A recent study by J.D. Power and Associates found that satisfaction with overall experience accounts for 45 percent of a customer’s propensity to remain loyal to their auto insurer.
Now that you understand the importance of sales and customer service alignment, there are three steps you can take to help build, strengthen and leverage this approach:
1) Understand The Existing Service Experience
The first step in sales and customer service alignment is creating an understanding of the current state, i.e. how your customer service team is performing and what they are offering. Meet with your customer service leader and ask him/her how they measure customer service success, and then ask to see recent reports that show performance against those goals.
Common service metrics include customer satisfaction (from survey results), percentage of first call resolution, speed of case closure SLA and customer retention rate. Learn how your service offerings (people, processes and tools) compare to the competition. Ask about the 2011 functional plan and the key initiatives that will touch your customers in upcoming months.
Oh.. and you may want to simply chat with your customers and ask for informal feedback.
2) Influence The Service Offerings
After the sale, you should have 100% confidence that your customers will receive a high level of service. Based on your current state analysis, determine what service strengths and opportunities exist, and then take some action.
Often times the service team is considered a “cost center” not a “revenue center” and does not get the funding that they need to offer world class service. If you believe that improvements in service can increase sales, partner with the customer service leader on a new business case to help them get the investments required.
With that said, customer service can often be enhanced through process improvements that don’t require major investments. If you see flaws in customer service, use your leadership and influencing skills to drive action and change.
You may want to consider creating a liaison role within your sales or sales ops team. This person could attend the weekly customer service staff meetings and help share information and represent the needs of the sales team and your customers, on an ongoing basis. (For more info, check out an earlier post: 5 Tips For Becoming A Better Sales Liaison.)
3) Sell The Service
Outstanding service after the sale, especially when your company offers complex or highly technical products, can be a fantastic selling point while attempting to close new business or to grow existing business. For example…
- “Our customer service team is available 7 days a week, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, while our competition only offers support during regular business hours. We are available whenever you need us!”
- “We practice KCS – knowledge centered support in our service center. We have built a database of product information for both our agents and our customers to use. This allows us to solve technical problems faster and more accurately.”
- “We consistently solve Priority One technical cases within 5 hours of the initial contact. This is 50% faster than our closest competitors.”
Service after the sale has a significant impact on whether your customers will purchase more or purchase from you again. As sales and sales operations leaders, it is our job to build, then drive sales and customer service alignment.
What has your company done to build sales and service alignment? Please add your comments.