This article first appeared on ICMI.
Service and sales are more interconnected than before, especially in an era where the customer has a wealth of information and competition is abundant. To add another strategic weapon in a company’s playbook, service and sales must merge into one point of contact: the customer service representative (CSR). The CSR, existing as a voice or the other end of an online chat, provides multiple touch points with a loyal customer each year, and also has the power to cross-sell products and services without adding organizational costs.
Businesses have begun to realize that the “hidden” customer service channel is ripe for leveraging a “sales through service” model. Some businesses execute it well — such as credit card companies, which can generate up to 25 percent of total net revenues and telecom operators, who produce 60 percent of revenue, according to a McKinsey report. Other companies are less “mature” in this aspect and are still attempting to solve the CSR selling model.
Ingraining “Service Through Sales” Within an Organization
By investing in the customer service division and structuring it more like a sales organization, complete with revenue goals and a sales-oriented leader, this department no longer needs to be considered a cost center.
As with any change in an organization, the leadership team must be firmly on board, backing the initiative from both a managerial and investment standpoint. Change management and a culture shift within an established department is no easy feat, but with a strong sales-focused manager at the helm, he or she can guide the service-focused employee by aligning personnel to work towards the common goal of converting their department into a revenue-generating entity. However, this must not come at the expense of providing a superior customer experience.
It will be necessary for the manager to communicate expectations, provide metrics, and outline goals to the division. Training, both initial and ongoing, must be aggressively provided, easing the current workforce into a routine of giving service to customers while also integrating a sales conversation into the mix. Incentives also go a long way, motivating and rewarding employees to embrace the “sales through service” model with monetary compensation. Additionally, the manager should consider making changes to the hiring strategy moving forward, recruiting personnel with both sales and service competencies.
Acting as both a service and sales representative requires a delicate balance when communicating with a customer. Since customer service personnel typically field inbound customer inquiries, it’s imperative that CSRs address a customer’s initial service request before cross-selling. Once a customer’s request is resolved, agents must quickly reengage the customer long enough to clearly and quickly deliver the “sales” offer.
More than 80 percent of customers who were happy with a rep’s performance said they were willing to listen to the agent’s offer. The order is service first, sales second to produce revenue.
Ivan is Chief Operating Officer of Jolt Consulting Group, a company exclusively focused on assisting companies improve their customer experience and accelerate growth. Ivan and his team deliver success business outcomes for their clients across the entire customer journey by assessments of their sales and service delivery, optimization of business processes, operating metrics, and deployment of enabling technologies. As a consultant, Ivan has worked with clients across 10 industry verticals to transform their operations. Contact Ivan at [email protected].