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Customer Service & Sales? Aren’t We All in the Same (Sales) Boat?


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How do you measure good customer service and why is it important to sales people?

It’s really quite simple. Good customer service means that you feel comfortable with a brand and it increases brand loyalty which then helps sales people with new business development.

 As you know, I am a consultative sales specialist and my company offers a consultative sales training program but many of our clients work with us, enrolling their customer service teams in our program. Why? Because the art of listening and meeting a need that we teach in our program is as important when talking to existing clients as it is when selling to prospects.

What is good customer service?

Is it important that customer service people are attentive, courteous and compassionate? Yes, of course it is but what matters most is that at every single step of the interaction they keep in mind that they need to resolve an issue. If the issue is not resolved at the end of the interaction, the service was not good, no matter how friendly the exchange. In order to resolve an issue, one needs to listen and identify it.

Focus on resolving the issue

Recently, I had a frustrating experience with my wireless provider (what else is new?). One of my devices wasn’t working and I needed it for business travel. While the person on the other end of the phone was nice and friendly, he missed the reason why I was frustrated and was trying to resolve an issue that didn’t exist. I won’t bore you with the details, but in a nutshell there was a lack of understanding and listening.

Just being friendly can be annoying

They wanted to fix the device and not the problem.  I was literally on the phone with customer service and tech support for four hours over two days. First they had me delete and re-install the software, re-start my laptop multiple times. Then they had me go to the local corporate store to replace the SIM card. When that didn’t work either, they decided to send a whole new device, that also didn’t work.

Address the issue

No matter what was suggested to me during the hour long conversations with various people including management, nobody really understood my problem. Everybody was trying to fix the device and not the problem.

Sometimes in sales AND in customer service you need to be creative

Finally after hours of conversations, pleading and almost threatening, a really compassionate supervisor got on the phone and started to think out of the box. He listened to what I had to say and we both came up with an alternate solution that fixed my issue, at least in the short term which was me being able to access the internet while traveling.

Scripts should be recommended guidelines

Everyone was trying to help me at each step of the process, but only to the extent as guidelines allowed them to. They put me through a process that robbed me of many hours, while it seemed that the script didn’t leave any room for thinking and/or decision making.

What does customer service mean?

The words “Customer Service” means that you service a customer to find a solution to a problem, issue or concern. It doesn’t mean that you read from scripts and apply procedures to comply with company policy.

And, how does this hurt sales?

In this new way of engaging through social media, news travel a lot faster and the word gets out, so a bad customer experience can hurt new sales.  That’s just the way it works. In working to keep your customers happy with your service or product, there’s not much difference between a customer service employee and sales person representing your product or service. Sales people are often the first introduction to a company, but if customer service representatives don’t satisfy a need, which was clearly the case in my situation, it’s hard for sales people to stand by a sale with integrity.

Your script should guide you, not control you

What is more important is that sales and customer service people need to be trained in a way that they use a script as a guideline and not as the only option. 

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