Today’s post is by Monika Götzmann, the EMEA marketing director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. It specializes in providing exceptional customer service training courses and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success.
Sales and customer service reps – as customer-facing employees – all have an important role to play in creating the overall customer experience. Indeed, the main difference between the two roles is that the sales team deals with customers before a sale, while the customer service team typically attends to customers after a sale has been made.
Businesses have a tendency to view customer service as something that only occurs post-sale, but customers do not see it this way, and view every interaction with your organization as “customer service.” What this means is that your sales executive training should have a customer service element – and the two teams need to work together for improved consistency.
Your sales team has a very important role to play in the customer experience because, in many cases, they will be the first point of contact customers have with your business. For this reason, sales training has to cover more than just pure sales techniques; there should be a customer service element.
A 2011 survey carried out by American Express found that 78 percent of consumers have backed out of making an intended purchase because of a poor service experience, which highlights the importance of delivering great service in the period before a sale has been completed.
Therefore, sales executive training should focus on teaching employees how to solve problems for customers, how to communicate with them effectively, and how to make the sales process more personal. A very simple step is to treat prospects as individuals by using their name, yet ContactPoint found this happens just 21 percent of the time.
Although many business owners recognize the link between customer service and sales, many think of it as a one-way street, with good customer service helping to generate return custom. However, in actual fact, the sales team has a role to play in helping the customer service team do its job to a higher standard.
The most obvious way salespeople can have a positive influence on customer service is by listening to the specific needs of customers and passing that information on to customer service management. Using technology and data effectively can help create a seamless process, where customers do not have to repeat themselves.
“Customers shouldn’t have to feel as though every interaction with [your employees] after the sale is like pulling teeth,” says Shelly Kramer, CEO of V3 Broadsuite, in an article for the Website MyCustomer. “There is absolutely no excuse for not using technology to manage data and [improve] the customer experience.”
Ultimately, collaboration between the two teams is essential. While both departments will have their own goals, they should also share wider company aims. For example, sales training could be used to reiterate the aim of delivering a great customer experience – making the sales team more likely to help, rather than just focus on personal targets.
One of the biggest problems businesses encounter is the unequal incentives the two teams have. Sales reps tend to have an individual incentive to make a sale, whereas customer service reps tend to lack these incentives. This can sometimes encourage sales staff to act in their own financial interests, rather than in the company’s.
Put simply, the best way to solve this problem is to adjust your incentive system so success is a collective effort. For example, you may issue bonuses based on things that involve both teams, such as positive customer feedback, upsells, or retention rates, rather than simply when sales reps reach their quota.