Ready to level up your business development efforts? Your customer service strategy could hold the key to meeting (and perhaps exceeding) sales goals, increasing customer value and reaching fans excited to interact with your brand.
But the first step is a change in thinking. When you see your customer service strategy as more than just a way to keep customers, you begin to see it as a way to create more customers.
If you're curious about how you can take your company's customer service department and transform it into a powerful part of your business development team, dig into these three questions. With a bit of thought, planning and coordination, you could be on your way to increased sales and better service.
1. How much data do you have and what are you doing with it?
As part of a firm specializing in helping companies turn marketing and customer data into actionable strategies, Chris Penn knows all too well the amount of data companies leave on the table.
Penn recommends that companies step back and assess what data they have at their fingertips, how they're tracking that data and what's being done with the data gathered. To do otherwise is the same as leaving stacks of dollar bills on shelves in your warehouse.
A customer success team with enough reps to be able to do that kind of proactive account outreach is going to be the most successful in terms of creating happy customers.
—Ryan Croft, co-founder and COO, TransitScreen
To help your business development efforts, make sure your customer service department is tracking all the data it possibly can and labeling that data so it can be searched and analyzed.
“If your customer service data is well-labeled—meaning [labeled] as a successful or unsuccessful resolution, upsells, customer lifetime value and more—you can then examine all of that data with machine learning techniques," says Penn.
Examining your customer service data is where savvy businesses can uncover previously unidentified revenue streams.
For example, Penn's company analyzed data from a company in the food and beverage sector and discovered that two major requests kept coming up in customer service interactions over and over again. Using machine learning to identify those requests led to the company creating products in a multi-billion dollar category.
“Data science and machine learning will open lucrative doors for companies wanting to leverage customer service and experience data, but only if the data is in a state where it can be used," Penn says.
2. How deep is your customer service strategy?
Once you have a grasp on your customer service data and the stories it's ready to tell, it's time to shift focus to how your customer service team services your customer base.
“For every client, we have an account manager who is in charge of the long-term relationship success and a product owner who is in charge of the product success for the current work," says Fingerman.
These two members of their team check in with the client frequently (in some cases, daily). ArcTouch has also implemented processes to gather feedback about the company's services from all client stakeholders several times per year.
This is a company that's learned that the customer and user experience is everything to a brand. The happier they are, the more likely they're going to remain customers.
“They're also more likely to tell their friends, who would then also like to become our customers," Fingerman says.
With a deep customer service strategy, your company can have several fingers on the pulse of your customer relationships. Those relationships can also come back to reward you.
Ryan Croft, co-founder and COO of TransitScreen, a firm that helps commuters assess mobility options in real-time, has seen first-hand the benefits to the deep level of customer service they offer their clients. TransitScreen tends to do a lot of work with residential property managers, who can tend to move around between employers quite a bit.
“We've had dozens of customers move to new properties and request our service at their new job, something we can attribute directly to a great customer experience," Croft says.
A deep customer service strategy goes back to what you already instinctively know: Great service keeps clients and can earn you new ones. Croft offers an additional benefit for your customer service efforts: an avenue to new advertising.
“When you go above and beyond for your customers," he says, "they're also more likely to be willing to go on record about their experience with you in a testimonial or case study, which can be used in ongoing sales efforts."
And on that note, be sure to ask for testimonials and talk to marketing about a case study strategy for the coming year.
3. How burdened is your customer service team?
You can have data and have built deep relationships with your clients. You might see your business development goals getting knocked out of the park. (Good job!)
But how sustainable are your efforts at the end of the day?
When you overburden your customer service team, you might see those amazing biz dev result fizzle out faster than planned. Croft at TransitScreen says there's a huge difference between being able to react to customer problems and having them time to proactively reach out to those same customers.
“A customer success team with enough reps to be able to do that kind of proactive account outreach is going to be the most successful in terms of creating happy customers and having them maximize their experience, as well as in becoming advocates for your product and your company as a whole," he says.
Now, you have three powerful questions to help rev up your business development efforts, all thanks to your customer service team. Keep in mind that these questions aren't one-and-done, either. They have a long shelf life. Ask them at regular intervals to make sure your customer service strategy and your business development efforts are benefiting fully from each other.
After all, you've done the hard work—getting the customer. There's no shame in using a few smart questions to help you not just keep them, but also earn more customers in the years to come.
Read more articles on customer relations.
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