Laying the Groundwork for Customer Service Sales
Whether it’s an activation code that won’t work, a broken ski pole, a lost shipment, or question about your company’s software, customer service teams need to put themselves in the customer’s place in order to truly understand their frustration. An important aspect of empathy is showing the customer you hear and understand their needs.
- Customer: “I was expecting my order yesterday, but I can’t find my tracking number.”
- Rep: “OK. You need help tracking down your order. Let me help you with that.”
Restating the request or problem clarifies the issue for the customer service operator and shows the customer you’re both on the same page. It shows the customer you get what they’re going through.
- “No one else has had this problem. Did you make a mistake assembling the product?”
- “Ok. So you’re having difficulties getting the printer to connect. That’s frustrating! I can help you with that…”
The first statement is accusatory and belittling, a big no in excellent customer service. The second statement restates the problem so the customer knows the situation is understood. The better approach: the rep empathises with the customer, but quickly focuses on the solution. Warmth is important, but remember there’s a fine line between empathy and agreeing. Customer service workers need to be careful not to berate the company or products in any way while interacting with the customer. Notice the difference between the following statements:
- “That really sucks. Sounds like the product is pretty lame.”
- “I’m sorry about that. Let’s get a replacement shipped out to you.”
The first response is empathetic, but it disparages the product and, by association, the company. The second response shows understanding, but rather than following up with negative remarks about the product, the customer service operator brings the call back to a positive note and focuses on solving the problem.
Another way to provide excellent customer service and build rapport is to use a CRM service software, which provides front-line phone associates with data to fully understand the customer’s needs, ensuring that any associate taking the call will understand the customer’s situation. This is critical in order to facilitate the service process and resolve the customer's issue as best as possible. If needed, agents can also be coached while on the call, allowing them to improve their skills.
Customer service representatives need to be knowledgeable
Empathetic statements show the customer service rep understands both the customer and situation. However, it takes more than that to solve the problem with competence.
In an age of Google, online forums, and tech-savvy customers, when they call for support or log onto chat it is because the information they need is not quickly accessible. For this reason customer service teams need a sizable knowledge base to help their customers. When they appear competent and knowledgeable, customers feel at ease.
Customer service CRM can help associates gain the knowledge they need to resolve customer calls. Features of customer service CRM can include crowdsourced answers to commonly asked questions, allowing answers to be obtained quickly, calls to run smoothly and wait times to be decreased. Speaking with a knowledgeable person increases customer satisfaction and confidence, laying the groundwork for continued mutual success.
Customer service teams need to be empowered and competent
The company needs to support customer service knowledge with a wide range of solutions. From a library of answers to actions such as refunds and replacements, the customer service representative needs to have authority to employ a range of solutions. Knowing how to solve a problem is one thing, but if the customer has to be put on hold several times to get a higher-up’s approval, the customer service magic begins to fade. To ensure the possibility of repeat business, customer service agents need to have the authority to fix many--if not all--problems.
To start with, there needs to be a “big picture” knowledge of the company’s goals and the customer’s individual situation. Seeing the entire picture helps customer service operators frame the importance of each customer’s concerns.
Leveraging Your Customer Service Team for Increased Sales
Customer service sales are a largely untapped resource for increasing revenue. While your sales department gives an initial impression for a company, the customer service department maintains that tone. That’s why it’s essential for customer service professionals to be empathetic, competent and authorised to solve concerns. The relationship they build in those few minutes on the phone or in chat paves the way for more sales.
When a customer service representative has built the groundwork on a call or chat by empathetically solving problems with the customer, a relationship is forged. This relationship puts customer service in the position to also be a customer service sales representative. Try one or more of these strategies to gently leverage customer service sales:
The 3 Ps of Customer Service Sales
Sales is basically problem-solving. All businesses are set up to fill a need or solve a problem: Birthday gifts, a dress shirt for an office party, a better way to hydrate while hiking, a machine to increase manufacturing efficiency, allergen-free snacks. Entire businesses are formed because a problem and solution were identified.
When salespeople, customer service reps, and the rest of a company see themselves as problem-solvers for their customers, a shift in thinking begins to occur. Problem-solvers change their thinking from “how do I make that sale?” to “how can I help make the customer’s situation easier?”
Empathetic customer service understands the customer’s needs and offers solutions.Those solutions might be related products, additional services or simply good advice. Often, customers may be looking for a solution and don’t know your company has the answer. For example:
- “ We’ve just released ______. It has the capability to _____”
Problem-solving shows customers you’re on their side. When customers feel understood, they’re more open to suggestions.
For customer service sales to be effective, service needs to be armed with an promotional offer. Whether it’s free shipping with a $75 order, 10% off any order placed on the call, a sale on a popular item, or a discount on a quantity purchase, promoting an additional sale can feel very natural to the customer. Some examples of promotion might include:
- “The _____ is available for pre-order. May I put you down to have that shipped on ___?”
Offering the customer additional discounts, perks or products adds to the bottom line. If discounts and sales are not part of your business model, helping the customer plan for future needs can be an important customer service function.
Alerting the customer of trends, production schedules, and new offerings allow the rep to help the customer foresee any needs. Examples of planning statements for customer service sales include:
- “We are releasing _________ in ______. Would you like to preorder?”
Using both sales and customer service teams offers a dynamic strategy to increase revenues. It’s all about looking out for the customer’s needs. Having service reps that connect with the customers increases customer confidence. With problem-solving, promotion, and planning, your company can look after the customer’s needs while increasing your own bottom line.
Excellent customer service lays the groundwork for increased sales. Customer service experts who are knowledgeable, empathetic, and empowered to solve problems are in an ideal position to increase company sales. By offering solutions, promotions, and opportunities to plan for future needs, your customer service department can make a big impact on your bottom line.