Global studies tell us that 78% of customers have not made an intended purchase due to a bad customer service experience. Other surveys say we have a 60-70% probability of selling to an existing customer versus less than 20% probability of selling to a new prospect. And another survey reported that only 1% of business-to-business customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
Despite these statistics demonstrating the importance of high quality service for future sales and retention, and companies stating their commitment to providing excellent service, the actual operational and financial support for service teams is often less than what is needed.
Companies will spend large amounts of money for training their sales teams saying, “We have not had a problem spending money for sales or marketing because these folks bring money in.” Many not only provide the training perks but also offer high wages and pay for attendance at conferences or offsite sales meetings at resort locations. The problem comes when a company doesn’t show the same commitment to resources and funds to support service operations.
When was the last time the President or CEO spent more than a quick walk through your center? Did he/she spend time observing and talking with frontline supervisors and your agents?
Unfortunately some CEOs think service success simply means answering the phone quickly with a smile and meeting operational metrics.
These CEOs don’t see the need for spending the time and money on soft skill or other key training for long time agents. It’s disappointing when a center manager says, “We don’t have time for training” or “Our company is spending so much on (technology, marketing, sales, new product development, etc.) that we don’t have any funds for training.”
Frontline service agents, supervisors and managers are dealing with the challenges that will affect future sales and retention of customers. Many are also focused on cross-selling and up-selling, and work closely with the outside sales representatives to support their sales efforts.
When it’s time for crucial customer service training, most contact centers like to have a mix of training methods for best results. They use online e-learning modules, webinars but also like to have time for in-person facilitators and of course live, real-time coaching. There are definitely solutions for finding the time to train and coach.
What is more challenging is convincing the C-suite team that money should be spent on the service team.
As a manager or director, you need to be prepared to sell your customer service team and the benefits they bring that go way beyond just answering the phone quickly with a smile. You must find ways to communicate how your team both directly and indirectly increases sales and retains customers.
These are a few suggestions to consider. You may already be doing some or perhaps all of these, but are you selling the results?
- Collect customer feedback that demonstrates the difference individual agents and your team are making with customer satisfaction. Call back customers who give high praise to reps and ask for details and document.
- Track the add-on sales and product substitutions made when the original purchased interest isn’t available. How were your agents able to save an order? This goes beyond normal cross-selling or up-selling programs.
- Listen to customer comments during call monitoring and coaching and save calls where customer says they continue to buy due to great service.
- Create a dynamic presentation based on the facts and audio collected.
- Request a show-and-tell meeting with top executive leadership: keep it brief and interesting. I’m worried when executives say no to this request, and as a manager you should be, too.
- Share the challenges of keeping the team well trained and motivated and the cost of losing an agent and replacing them. Find statistics that demonstrate the link between training and customer success as well as training and reduced agent turnover.
- Wrap up with solutions you have for training and motivation that will keep sales coming in and customers retained.
In essence, center leaders must learn how to be the best sales people for their customer service teams. Sell your team every day in every way possible and ask for the financial and operational support you need for continued success.