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What device are you reading this on? Or, better still, how many devices could you choose from? Probably quite a few.  

Connected devices are multiplying, and that’s one of the major challenges every customer-centric team in your business has to deal with every day. More devices means more interactions with a single customer, and more data about those interactions. 

The trouble is: everything seems to be connected except your departments. Your Sales and Service teams might work on the same floor, but if they’re working in silos, they might as well be on different planets. 

That’s when customer data complexity can turn into chaos – but it doesn’t have to. 

Some brands are turning this data-driven, multi-channel challenge into an opportunity. (Amazon comes to mind, of course, and all eyes are on their acquisition of Wholefoods, to see how they integrate that in-store experience with their slick online one.)

Think Amazon isn’t your competitor? Think again. Slick customer experiences raise the bar for everyone: Once consumers get used to a great ecommerce experience, they won’t put up with a sloppy one from their bank.

 

What customers want

Wherever their expectations come from, the customer is always right. And the customer wants four things:

  1. Faster service – that gives them the outcome they want, first time.
  2. Smarter service – so your reps have the right information in front of them.
  3. Connected experience – that pulls all relevant data from all channels, even before your service agent picks up the phone. 
  4. Service anytime, anywhere – whenever the customer needs it, however they want it.

So how do you give your reps – in Sales and in Service – the power to deliver on these expectations? 

It’s not an easy ask, especially when you factor in the fact that 70% of companies have not tied their Sales and Service efforts together.

But it’s worth the effort: we’ve all heard the statistic that says 80% of your sales come from 20% of your existing customers, but did you know that repeat customers spend 30% more than new customers? And that people are 86% more likely to buy from you again if they had a positive customer experience?

 

What does connected sales and service look like in the real-world? 

When you connect Sales and Service, you can do three things really well.

  1. Get personal. With a single, 360-degree view of the customer, you can engage them across any channel they choose to use, with the right message or action at the right time.
  2. Stay consistent. Nothing quite makes a service issue worse than receiving conflicting, contradictory information from one agent on the phone and another on email. But if you create consistency, you could expect to see a 26% uplift in customer retention. (Take a look at Virgin Media’s story, and how they used Salesforce to unify a fragmented Service setup.)
  3. Enjoy the 360-degree view. Take the blinkers off your Sales and Service people and the benefits are mutual. Your salespeople can sell better when they know what’s going on with a customer’s case history, service reps can identify cross- and up-sell opportunities and identify VIP customers, and managers can view the health of the business across both realms.

At Salesforce World Tour London 2017, we heard from brands like Coca-Cola, who are developing a new generation of sales and service professionals without a wall separating their departments. Both sides (though we shouldn’t call them sides any more) are trained to slip seamlessly from service queries to sales opportunities and vice versa.

 

Centrica Connected Home: connecting homes and experiences

We’re big fans of the work the Hive brand have been doing with the help of the Salesforce platform to create a single, coherent journey for their connected home customers – from purchase to installation, and on to service and beyond. 

You can learn more about the story here, but read on to hear from two of the people making it all work. Neil Procter, Global Head of Customer Systems, and Terence Sorrell, Business Solutions Manager at Centrica Connected Home, talked to us about Hive’s connected customer journeys.

Connectivity as a competitive advantage

The Hive products that make up Centrica Connected Home were conceived to help consumers take control of their home environment easily, making everything from their thermostat to their lighting flexible, smart and, most importantly, connected.

It was a bold but necessary move in a market notorious for its competitiveness. “We’re a nation of switchers,” said Terence. “It’s incredibly competitive, so British Gas and Centrica wanted a new way to connect with their customers.”

Customers don’t draw a distinction between their provider’s Sales process and their Service experience – if either’s bad, they’re likely to vote with their feed. Luckily for Centrica Connected Home, Terence and Neil see things the same way. “I don’t see Sales and Service as two separate things,” said Terence. “They’re part of one journey, and we need to figure out how to get from A to B.” 

All the data you need

Neil spoke about his Salesforce journey, now in its fifth year: “We’ve evolved with the Salesforce platform since we first implemented it in 2013. Today it’s our customer data master: no matter where a customer comes from, or where an interaction takes place (on one of our digital services or with an engineer in the home), all the data is available at that touchpoint.”

Neil’s team then relies on automation to do much of the heavy lifting for them. “In a single customer basket, you might have a subscription product, a one-off purchase, and an item that needs to be installed. That creates all sorts of challenges for journey-building, but the Salesforce platform acts as the business brain to choose and automate next steps intelligently.”

“And when we’re talking to a British Gas customer, for example, Salesforce helps us to automate the co-branding of all our content when we need to,” Terence added.

Only the data you need

It’s an end-to-end data-driven journey, but it’s not data for data’s sake. In architecting customer journeys and business models alike, Terence and Neil exercise a kind of practical minimalism: “When you have so much data from multiple sources (customers, external partners, whatever) that’s so integrated, the challenge is knowing when to use it and when not to.”

Neil agreed: “When it comes to stakeholder management, you need to be so organised up front, or you’ll have to deal with the consequences later. If we have a new partnership, or use a new marketing solution, for example, we need to have an open conversation across Marketing, Sales and Service as soon as possible. We have to make sure that any new data requirements will only affect the integrity of the system and the customer journey in positive ways.”

Terence wrapped it up in a suitably customer-centric fashion: “We don’t take everything. We take what’s relevant to the customer experience. If it doesn’t make it better, we move on to the next thing.”

 

Ready to start creating those great customer experiences? Download this insightful and practical Creating a Connected Customer Experience guide.