It makes sense to rely on the sales department to make revenue-boosting sales for a company. That’s what they do. But don’t underestimate the impact that other departments have on your sales. One of those invaluable internal team your company has to increase sales is those working in your customer service department.
The people manning the front line and interacting with your customers on a daily bases can be your best resource when it comes to increasing the bottom line. These employees who have constant contact with your customers will know their challenges and problems intimately, allowing your company, and sales in particular, to gain a deeper understanding of client issues and problems; their wants and needs.
By having a detailed list of customer interactions with your company, your customer service division is armed with the resources needed to help customers and --with proper skills-- increase revenue. Of course, customers that call customer service are most often calling with a problem or complaint, and should be treated carefully. That means the priority of the call is to serve the customer. But, if handled with skill and respect, these calls can be used to benefit both the customer and your company.
The strategy for coupling customer service and sales is to offer additional products as customers are being assisted. It’s time to stop seeing customer service/support and sales as two entirely different teams within the company. Help one to further the other to meet their goals individually and ultimately as a whole. This type of selling requires your customer service teams to have empathy, knowledge and empowerment.
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.
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.
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 empathizes 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:
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.
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.
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.
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 authorized 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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
The best way to see how Salesforce is revolutionizing customer service is with a guided tour of Service Cloud. With the guided tour, we can show you how Service Cloud shines in several common use cases and scenarios.
Questions? Our reps have answers. 1-800-667-6389