If we have to call a customer service rep, we know we’re in trouble. We’ve tried to fix the issue ourselves. Perhaps we have contacted the customer service department more than once, without resolution.
What if your customer service reps viewed each customer interaction as a business opportunity?
Is that how your customer service department is organized?
Most business models view customer service as the complaint department. So do your customers.
Consider that your customers feel compelled to complain because your company expects them to. That’s customer service status quo.
But wait. There’s more.
The customer service rep provides the required fix for the customer. If the session goes well, the customer service rep asks the customer whether they’d like to learn about new products and services. Then the formerly negative customer is shunted off to your inside sales department.
What’s the logic in that?
The customer starts all over again with a new person. After they’ve spent loads of time building rapport with your customer service rep.
You’ve just lost your business development opportunity.
What if there was only one department involved in all customer transactions? What if your inside sales and customer service reps were the same people?
How would your hiring practices change?
Here’s a Case Study
I spearheaded a project for a computer hardware channel distribution partner. The outside sales folks promised lots of goodies and sold much faster than the supply chain could fulfill orders.
Between lengthy back-orders and unapproved product substitutions, things blew up fast. Irate customers cancelled their contracts and told their colleagues what was going on.
That’s not the ideal way to build a profitable business, is it?
I went to the troops in the trenches: the customer service reps. They sat right outside my door. Each day I heard their side of the conversation at the rate of 20 calls a day per agent. It wasn’t pretty.
Here’s what we did over the next two weeks.
- Each customer service rep wrote down, verbatim, the entire two-way conversation coupled with internal data about the customer’s account.
- We dissected each conversation from a Voice of the Customer perspective.
- I empowered each customer service rep with the authority to offer alternative business solutions to the customer.
Here’s what happened:
- Customer service reps started offering solutions instead of fixes.
- They collaborated with the sales, marketing and ops folks.
- As sales, marketing, ops and leadership listened to Voice of the Customer insights, they got a rude awakening about marketplace brand and image.
- Business focused on throughput instead of everyone working in departmental silos.
- The business model pivoted.
- The business outcome was now aligned with the customer instead of company profitability goals.
- Accounts that were at risk were saved.
If you own a small business, you don’t have the luxury of separate departments for each job function. Your people do a little bit of everything each day.
They could be doing more if you would empower them to work with you instead of for you.
Think what that pivot would mean for your business outcomes.
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC is a management consultant and business coach. Top Sales World named Babette one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers and Bloggers in 2013 and again in 2014. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? is a business bootcamp in a book, full of tools and tips for collaboration and profitable business development.