Earlier this year, I was the guest speaker at the “Great Customer Engagement Goes Beyond Great Service” seminar. The main focus of the seminar was to look at the sales & marketing and the customer service departments as synonyms with each other. I spoke from the position that sales and customer service are equally as important to the overall customer experience. The conclusion of the seminar was that both departments need to work in unison with each other to maximize the customer experience, which leads to more sales and more sustained business. Salespeople need to know how to do customer service, and customer service representatives need to know how to sell.
Soon after the seminar, I published an article on CCW Digital on how to align sales with customer service. After writing that article, I began to really see the importance and relevance of customer service. Here are the five main reasons why customer service is important to both sales and the long-term business success.
Customers Experience Problems
At some point, a customer will experience a problem with your product/service. The problem will either be a real issue, or it will be a misconception with the customer. In either case, having great customer service skills can help you solve the problem. Having the team or the skills to delicately solve issues while keeping the customer satisfied is absolutely crucial to maintaining a long-term customer. This is only good news for salespeople – having a team or having the skills to solve customer problems means that less sales will be cancelled and people will be happier.
In the same vein, you will certainly experience a time where a customer tries to cancel the sale or switch to the competition. Usually, this is due to an unresolved problem or issue. In a perfect world, customer service will solve the problem. If the problem cannot be solved or if the customer is not satisfied, customer service means doing everything possible to save the experience and retain the customer. Servicing the customer to retain the sale or the business can be the ultimate difference between a satisfied customer who brags about your company or a dissatisfied and disgruntled ex-customer who tells everyone about their negative experience.
Great Customer Service Triggers the Principle of Reciprocity
The principle of reciprocity essentially is the societal expectation that people will respond positively if you do something that benefits them. In 2002, researchers David Strohmetz, Bruce Rind, Reed Fisher, and Michael Lynn published an article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that essentially shows the act of giving gifts can translate to real increases in revenue.The study focused on waiters and waitresses and how the simple act of giving customers mints with the bill increases the tips for the wait staff. The results are pretty amazing to say the least. The final results showed that by simply giving a customer mints at the end of the meal can result in increased tips by an astonishing 21%. The final conclusion of the study was that the norm of reciprocity was responsible for increased tips.
This can be accomplished with great customer service. By giving the customer great service, this can trigger the principle of reciprocity. They might feel more inclined to either purchase more down the road or tell their friends/professional contacts about their positive experience.
The Brand Reputation is Enhanced
Great customer service only enhances the overall brand reputation. We all know what happens when someone experiences bad service and it goes viral. Having excellent customer service prevents negative press from being an issue. The better service you or your company gives, the more your brand reputation will be enhanced. It will be much easier to build trust with both new prospects and existing customers. As we all know, trust is one of the cornerstones of sales.
Service Reassures New Customers
We have all been in the scenario where we purchased something and immediately thought “I wonder if that was a good idea?” I recently felt this way after my wife and I moved to a new house. We decided to go with a new internet company. After we got it installed, a representative called me and asked me how everything was going and if I needed anything from them. The rep told me that if anything pops up, they are available any time. It was a simple gesture, but it reassured me that I made the right choice. A high level of customer service is a great way to communicate to new customers that they are in good hands and they have nothing to worry about.
In this day and age, sales should no longer be separated from customer service. Both are important to the overall customer experience, which is vital for long term success.
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