The Blurry Line between Customer Service and Sales

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Your sales team has been carefully trained to provide customers with everything they need in order to make purchasing decisions. The customer service team has training in making customers happy, going the extra mile for them so that they will retain their great opinion of your services. In many cases, however, those departments are kept separate. The reality is, there's a blurred line between customer service and sales--and your salespeople and customer service department need to be familiar with both. 

Salespeople No Longer Hold Power

Many customers today are taking salespeople out of the buying equation entirely, making their purchasing decisions online without ever speaking to a representative in person. When they do make contact with a sales representative, it's because they need help for some reason: troubleshooting a problem, deciding which of your goods best suits their needs, or learning critical information about the company that they were unable to find online. Because of this, salespeople must be more focused on providing stellar customer service than they are on making a sale. 

Consider this scenario: a couple walks into a showroom looking for a washer and dryer. They've done their research online and have a pretty good idea of the type and brand they're looking for. When they enter the store, the only thing they need from the salesperson is the answer to a few key questions--not an attempt to turn them aside from their purchasing plans and make them choose something else. A too-pushy salesperson may actually turn the customers away from the store--even if they were ready to make a purchase when they walked in. An informative salesperson who is unobtrusive while still being on hand to answer questions, however, will quickly close the sale. 

You may not sell washing machines, but chances are, you've experienced similar opportunities within your own store. Salespeople must know their products and the customers who come to buy them--and they have to know how to read those customers in order to provide the best service to them.

Customers Want Brands that Engage With Them

Just as the focus of salespeople has shifted, the focus of customer service has changed, too. Now, customer service doesn't start after a purchase has been made--it starts before! Customers are looking for brands that are willing to engage with them, troubleshoot with them, and work with them long before they make that first purchase. There are several things you can do to entice customers with your first-class customer service even before they make a purchase:

  • Create a solid social media community where interested customers can get answers to their questions or hear directly from people who are already using your business.
  • Design an extensive content library that will help both current customers and those interested in your business. Offer the answers to frequently asked questions. Provide more detail about the problems people who need your products might face. An extensive content library will help increase their trust in you as an expert in your field.
  • Answer questions for interested customers, not just those who have already made a purchase. Sometimes, those conversations are the difference between customers who take the plunge and those who have walked away. Answering these questions may include responding quickly to emails, providing a fast response on social media, or engaging over the phone with customers who need to troubleshoot. 

The line between customer service and sales is changing drastically. People expect more from their sales now than they ever have--and if you don't provide it, your competitors will. By understanding how the line has changed and redefining your own efforts, you can change the way you interact with your customers forever.