Why the Wall between Sales and Service Must Come Down

by Granville Triumph

According to Aberdeen’s 2013 State of Service study, more than half of respondents say increased competition is the top pressure facing their organizations. Reputation and past success are no longer enough to guarantee continued customer loyalty. Organizations are under constant pressure to show and deliver value in order to retain existing customers and acquire new customers.

This intense pressure is only exacerbated by the disconnect between sales and service that exists in most organizations. In many cases, there is a flat out lack of cooperation between these two customer-facing business units. In a worst-case scenario, this disconnect becomes apparent to customers, which can seriously damage the organization’s reputation.

When sales and service aren’t on the same page, organizations pay dearly. Upsell and cross-sell opportunities are missed. Service processes are inefficient, improperly aligned and poorly executed. Sales sets customer expectations that service can’t meet. Not only do customer satisfaction and referral business suffer, but the extra work required to meet unrealistic expectations can prove costly.

Organizations can better align sales and service by doing the following:

  • Agree on specific service offerings. Clarify the deliverables, process, timeline, pricing and other details for each offering. This helps to manage customer expectations and ensure consistent, repeatable delivery of services.
  • Offer service personnel incentives to help sales. By solving customer problems, a member of your service team can quickly become the person most trusted by the customers they assist. Empower service to leverage these relationships to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities – and reward them for doing so.
  • Make sure sales and service messaging are consistent. This will ensure that customer expectations are properly set and customers receive the value they were promised without discrepancies or confusion.
  • Leverage customer data. Sales and service both collect customer data. Process this data to create a shared pool of information that helps to improve customer service and identify sales opportunities.
  • Define performance metrics and targets. Measure the success of both sales and service and tie those results to overarching corporate goals.

The short-term and long-term benefits of aligning sales and service are many. Organizations deliver a better customer experience, which leads to improved customer retention, satisfaction and loyalty. Information gleaned by service personnel provides valuable customer insight that can be used to create additional selling opportunities.

Instead of simply focusing on the task at hand, service can help sales lay the foundation for a stronger relationship between the customer and your organization. These relationships and the bottom-line benefits created when sales and service come together are essential in today’s ultra-competitive business environment.

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