Customer Service is not Sales. Keep it that way.

What’s preventing organizations from helping customers capture value and drive more revenue and profit for their own businesses at the same time? One of the biggest barriers is actually company culture. Service people tend to think that generating revenue is strictly the responsibility of sales, while providing value-added service is owned by the service people. We routinely hear service people describe sales as manipulative, high pressure and focused on getting the customer to buy something, even if they may not need it. Sales, on the other hand, often thinks of the service team as people who routinely ‘give away the farm’ to keep the customer happy.

Like most stereotypes, neither side has it right. Unfortunately, customers often share the same misconceptions. The reality today is that sales and service are both focused on the same thing; creating value for customers and getting paid for that value. Sales people, who can’t clearly demonstrate how their solution creates value and addresses their customer’s business outcomes, are quickly relegated to commodity supplier status by their customers. On the other hand service people, who don’t understand how their service activities can create real value for their customers, can miss significant opportunities to provide even more value to customers and get paid for it.

 

Service Can Create and Capture Real Value

The key is to stop thinking in terms of ‘selling’ and ‘providing service’ and start thinking in terms of creating and capturing real value for you and your customers. Companies are shifting the focus of their technical service people based on 3 capabilities that service organizations have had for a very long time.

 

1. TRUSTED BUSINESS PARTNER RELATIONSHIP WITH CUSTOMERS

The first unique capability of your service people is the Trusted Business Partner relationship that they have with their customers. If you think about it, when a customer meets with a service person they are thinking that the service person is there to solve their problem. That’s their only goal. But if a customer meets with a sales person, they perceive different motivations. The customer could get nervous about the sales person’s desire to sell more instead of helping them solve their problem. So, the service person is embedded in the minds of the customer as somebody who’s really going to help.

 

2. KNOWLEDGE OF THE CUSTOMER AND THEIR GOALS

The second capability is that the service person has tremendous knowledge of the customer and their goals; the service person knows how the customer is trying to apply products and services, the challenges they are having, what the customer is trying to achieve, the business outcomes they need to get to, and the problems they are encountering in getting there.

 

3. KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR ORGANIZATION’S SOLUTIONS

The third capability of service people is their extensive knowledge of your company’s solutions. The knowledge of your own capabilities means that your service person can help the customer address their business needs and achieve their outcomes in ways that the customer never imagined. They can anticipate problems proactively and take action to get to the customer’s real needs.

 

These three capabilities are what we call the power of service revenue generation.

One client in the technology industry is moving all their customer service, technical service, and field application engineers to become Total Customer Focused by leveraging these three capabilities together. Since beginning Total Customer Focus, the client, who used to put a lot of pressure on the customer service team, has experienced reductions in firefighting, pressure and attrition of service people. The client is also seeing renewals in contracts. They have currently trained 1,500 people and will soon have all 4,000 people trained in this new mentality.

Your service people are visiting different customers 70 times per month on average. Imagine if they thought proactively about problems the customer has at each of those touch points instead of thinking reactively about what they are going to do on a service call or installation. Proactivity and understanding the customer’s real problems are the keys to success.

To learn these capabilities first hand, attend one of Global Partners’ upcoming Total Customer Focus Public Programs.

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