Too often sales and customer service operate in isolation. With different functions, targets and management, the symbiosis can be hard to achieve. The relevance to each other is not obvious for everyone - though at the end of the day, the goals for both sales and service are the same: increasing customer satisfaction and revenue. For this reason partnership selling shouldn’t just end once the sale is made. The same partnership principles - understanding your customer’s personality and their problem(s) to be solved, collaboration through shared responsibility, and providing value beyond the product - should transcend to the post-sale service element. Here are some tips for partnership serving:
Share that expertise!
In numerous product categories, you will find competing solutions that cannot be differentiated by features. With the same offering, side-by-side, knowledge delivery becomes the critical factor in customer retention. Equip your service staff to not only resolve the query, but to offer best-practice advice to your customers that can only be achieved by asking relevant questions. For example: “I can definitely fix that for you. And I can probably recommend other features and uses that may be of use. What are trying to achieve with our product?" Your customers will appreciate the value-added insight they weren’t expecting, but will definitely benefit from.
Get into the win-win flow
Too many organizations see customer service as a cost centre, which is why they focus purely on reducing delivery costs. Plus, this ideology that companies lose out to complaining customers only undermines service performance. The fact is, if customers make the effort to complain, they still care enough about your company for you to reverse the situation - and even benefit from it. For example: “I am sorry for the inconvenience. The issue has now been resolved and I will refund the fee for last month. To demonstrate our commitment to you, I'd like offer you a discount on next year’s subscription if you extend your contract now.” And there you have it: valuable customer feedback, a satisfied customer, and customer retention for an additional year.
Shower your customer with freebies
Value-added service is even better when you provide shareable, branded resources that can assist your marketing efforts (we’re working on this ourselves - but hey, we’re just starting up!). For example, Hubspot offers an SEO template (with Hubspot branding) that I happily share with others. It’s a simple resource I didn’t expect, but was very glad to receive for free. Partnership service coming to the fore. There are many other examples of partnership service such as networking events, community forums and certified tuition, to name a few. At the end of the day, invest in your support staff, and in a free toolkit packed full of support resources - and you’re on your way to delighting your customers. Or... customers? Maybe we should call them 'partners for life'!