Customer service and support is not only a baseline operational function, which is required to serve the customers and hopefully retain them. It can be used for many strategic purposes. In other words- a function which is main touch point to your customers, has to be more than pure operational.
Here are some non-operational and strategic roles customer service can play
Use for cross-sell (selling related product) and up-sell (selling more of the same product)
You may keep on sending the mailers and unsolicited calls to your existing customers on your other products and services which could be useful for him. However, customer service is also a great opportunity for the same objective, as client has initiated that touch-point and he is engaged to listen. A customer service person will need the following enablers:
- A single customer view and detailed profile (through operational BI or Master Data Management)
- The product affinity analysis (either automated product affinity analysis systems or the staff can be trained on simple heuristics like "sell accident insurance policy if the customer doesn't have one)
- Selling attitude: One needs to have a different script and attitude to sell vs. serving the customer.
- Training on products and the selling scripts.
TIPS- As one does the cross-sell and up-sell, one should not forget the core role of the customer service person. A good and satisfactory call creates more than half the ground for the up-sell/cross-sell.
TIP- Sometimes, it may not be possible to have the customer service staff to double up as a sale person as well, due to sheers skill and attitude difference. In that case there are two options:
- A customer service person can briefly introduce a product and generate a follow-up lead for the sales staff.
- The customer call can be transparently forwarded to a sales person who can get into explaining the value proposition.
Use customer service as a key input channel for product improvement and design
Customer service keeps on receiving solicited and unsolicited feedback on the products and services. This input if managed well (via knowledge management, group feedback gathering session and training the staff) can form a key basis for planning your product introduction map and product design.
Use Customer Service for Process Improvement
Customer service keeps on throwing up process issues, which keep on getting fixed as they arise. Beyond that, customer service is able to provide feedback on customer expectations of TATs (turn-around time) and the quality expectations. Therefore, it can also lead to process overhaul to achieve process standards in alignment with the customer expectations.
Customer Service as a tool for training and customer orientation
I strongly recommend that all of the employees should be taken through the customer service experience, as that will be an eye-opener for many. You cannot get a better insight into the minds of your customer, than by going through customer service experience.
Customer Service as a tool to launch new campaigns
This is a close relative of cross-sell and up-sell, but not entirely same. When an organization launches a new campaign (especially the ones which are not entirely focused on getting new customers only), the voice advertisements can be done as the customer is waiting for his turn. After the customer service call is over (and it is a successful call), one can give a brief highlight of the campaign.
Tool for conducting customer satisfaction surveys
There are mixed views on this. Some people say that getting customer satisfaction survey done, after a service call does not capture the true level of customer satisfaction, as it is colored by the current experience. Whereas the other school of thought is that it is the true reflection of the customers’ views about the organization.
Our recommendation is that one can do the customer satisfaction survey at the end of a service transaction, but that should not be more than 20-25% of the responses that you get on your survey.
Apart from the customer satisfaction survey (which is on the broader set of parameters), one can usefully conduct the survey on the customer satisfaction around the service call. There are three ways to do it:
- The customer support person himself take-up the customer feedback (not recommended).
- Customer feedback is taken through the Interactive Voice Response System, with the customer service person not being shown the feedback.
- The customer is forwarded to another cell, which is focusing on the customer feedback and they take the input from the customer.
Customer Service and support as a tool for generating the sales lead
After a good service call, and if the customer seems to be happy, one can ask for references for customer's network.
TIP: We have shared many benefits which you can draw from your customer service and support environment. However, these should not be diluting the core delivery and purpose for the customer service. One has to be careful that the customer service staff can match-up to the task of the drawing these side benefits. If your customer service staff is not made up to take the feedback surveys, or to cross-sell or to introduce the campaigns, do not enforce the same on them.
TIP: A customer should not feel that a service call is a hidden sales call. Broadly all the side-benefits mentioned above which are related to sale and feedback gathering, should not be done for more than 25%-30% of the total customer service transactions.