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Where does Customer Service start ?

Author johnny458
#1 | Posted: 9 Dec 2008 09:46 
A couple of days ago, I thought of getting myself a wireless internet connection because I was not very happy with my current broadband service provider. I went to this ISP (who were a big company — who spend millions just in advertising campaigns) to find out how soon they can have my new wireless internet connection up and running. They wanted 24 hours time but I felt that was too long to get one new connection going. I told them I would be interested if they could get it done the same day and they had about 8 more hours to go. The sales person made a few calls and then said it could be done. Then by the end of the day, I even got a call from the sales person that my new connection was activated. Unfortunately, I could not check at that time.

When I went back home and checked, it was not active and it was too late in the night to call the sales representative. So, I waited till the next day and tried to call that man. But he did not answer my phone calls. Finally, I had to go back to their office and tell them that I was not interested in taking a connection from their company anymore. The manager there had my connection activated in about five minutes. But by that time I had lost interest in the deal and I chose to go with one of the lower usage plans.

My question would be this — to what extent is customer service involved during sales? Can we consider that it is a part of delivering good customer service in providing the correct information to the customer even during those initial discussions — that is, before a customer becomes a customer! Where does it start? Would it be after a person has bought a product/service of a company or would it be even before that?

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 9 Dec 2008 10:30 
Aaaahhhhh, Johnny!!!! You've been bit by by the main crux of a Dilbert comic - - the disparities between Sales and Service.

Promise the moon, but deliver shuttle-craft jet fumes. (Or perhaps, a toolbag floating in space).

Figure out how to marry the two, get Corporate World to buy in, and you'll put Dilbert out of business.

Just my personal perspective: People tend to think that sales people are naturally-born...that they have some sort of genetic difference (the schmoozing skill) that enables them to sell, while the rest of us mere mortals cannot. The truth of the matter is there is no natural born sales person. We *all* are in sales, whether we realize it or not. (Think back to kindergarten/first grade...how did you make friends? By selling yourself to them.)

The problem with sales is an inability to say no. When you are trying to please all people all the time, developing a backbone to be able to say "No, our product doesn't do that." becomes tantamount to "losing a sale," and we simply cannot have that in Corporate World. Far easier to say 'oh sure, we can do that' and then let Service deal with the fallout.

The Sandler Sales Method is one that I know of that addresses just this issue. They call this "Wimp Juction"....the point where a salesperson will veer off the tracks and allow the customer to control the sale.

Sales & Service are (and maybe always will be) two disparate functions, with disparate goals. They are generally managed by different people, each with their own agenda and motivation. They oftentimes report to different people as well (Sales Manager to VP of Sales, Service Manager to VP of Ops), and THOSE people also have different agendas, different motivations.

One would think an organization would not have disparate goals...but, then we all eventually graduate from school and get out into the real world.

Author Secondreview
#3 | Posted: 29 Dec 2008 12:12 
Karen has quite a point in her last paragraph and I think you will find much of the same thing in most companies. Sales people are driven by their management to make a certain new business quota or revenue on a consistent basis. Usually they report to a different manager and department than the Service/Operations Dept. I do believe however that most successful sales people sell a viable product without promising things that their company just isn't going to do. After all, a Sales person would want to keep that account.

What happens often is that Service Departments do not report failures and/or changes to Sales in a timely manner. They tend to bury it or try to fix the issue internally without broadcasting it. For the most part , Sales find out about service /operational failures, when they are contacted by their client.

This is not the way it should be but even in the largest companies, one can find this dynamic.

Gloria Rubaine

Author schola
#4 | Posted: 6 Jan 2009 04:48 
I personally feel a link should be created between Sales & Service. At initial discussions with a prospective client, the Sales person has to employ some customer service tact-providing required information as at when there is the need by the prospective client.

This helps to sustain the client's interest and when the deal has been contracted the bulk of the customer servicing is shifted to the appropriate department and that account is maintained.

Author infowhse
#5 | Posted: 8 Jan 2009 14:35 
Sales and Service should be a seamless process in which Customer Service is used to create processes and process flow to benefit the customer. All too often companies think of Customer Service as a reactive process that gets involved only when a problem arises. The reality of things should be that Customer Service be a part of both the sales and service process so the customer has fewer inconveniences and issues. Plus, when problems arise, they are handled faster and with less effort on behalf of the customer.

David V. Greis
The Customer Service Training Institute

Author ayaree
#6 | Posted: 9 Jan 2009 19:05 
"All too often companies think of Customer Service as a reactive process that gets involved only when a problem arises. "

Infowhse, so true. And the reality can often be that the customer service group has not been included in the formation of knowledge ALONE on a particular topic (product/change/thing) let alone how to react to a problem, foreseen or not. Sometimes left out of things that are so crucial and also so basic that it boggles the mind.

I have seen many cases where a process map included tons of geometry devoted to groups of people that don't have to respond to questions and, in the same process map, which tells little about how Customer Service activities feed into processes, a small box at the "end of the street" called "Questions to 1-800 number" or something along those lines. It's just somebody calling.......Even after having gone through experiences where no process map was designed, for whatever reason, and there are lots of them.

I'm not really sure why professionals in varying roles put Customer Service into a lonely box on its own, without seeing all kinds of linkages between this and that and him and her, literally or figuratively. Over the years, I have had different leanings on the answer, from abject stupidity (when I was at out of school age) to arrogance (random, recurrent) to laziness (lately). I'm not old enough to have a good enough opinion, to me, nor young enough to enjoy the search for the answer.

Any recent time I can remember a customer experience I didn't like, it had to do with the amount of information possessed by the person handling information. And any time I see that I am the one who needs to contribute to an effective customer experience, it's the information I have and the way I handle it that determines how much good I am to somebody (that's how I see it). If I am in a "box" called "Oh, and also questions," and not tied to all the other pieces to the puzzle, I am offering a customer an opportunity to do extra "homework," and people don't like that.

Well worth it to see Customer Service functionS (plural) as pieces to a larger picture.

I've embarked beyond the original question (and I have inserted myself beyond that point too), but I guess I would say that customer service begins once you have begun to shed light on something. I believe in all the usual techniques to present oneself as customer-oriented and courteous, and even believe in ways to enhance the delivery with style and not just substance (the voice, the body movements, etc). But if you have rubbish for information to start with and do a rubbish job at delivering any kind of information, you have little to offer. At this moment, I can only say customer service starts with knowledge for me.

Author da foresight
#7 | Posted: 27 Jan 2009 07:59 
[i]customer service relating to my organisation is one thing we need to upgrade, as we just relocated to a new environ.Much awareness and optimistic publicity i believe we need.Just employed a new desk officer who probably will much orientation on customer service.Anyone with great idea will be welcome.As a new member,i will more encourage with great idea, as i look up to reading from your articles as well for more update.

Thanks in anticipation.

Author suehayles
#8 | Posted: 17 Feb 2009 08:18 
All of these comments only serve to prove that very few organisations are truly interested in their customers. CS is a function that SHOULD sit horizontally across the entire organisation and be well embedded in the organisations culture, strategy and process. Customer service starts quite simply with the customer!! Understand them and create the environment to service them, respond to their values and beliefs to |BE the solution , not just DO the solution!

Author KarenSB
#9 | Posted: 18 Feb 2009 05:54 
You are correct, Sue. The problem is that CS function often does not have a seat at the strategic table, making it nigh impossible to be the solution when you are allowed only to do the solution. Or perhaps there is an obligatory seat at the table, but no voice is allowed.

Case in point: If CS had a strategic voice, would the golden parachutes, executive bonuses, luxury retreats, executive office make-overs of banking industry ever have happened using taxpayer bailout funds?

Ahhh!!! The life we lead...voiceless drones in organization's armies!!

Author Tech
#10 | Posted: 10 May 2009 13:39 
oldish topic but...

is it possible that some customers "know what they want, and how to do it"
before they make contact?

I just posted a topic
"Customer attitude change ---Warning!--- another rambling from Tech"
regarding the attutude of a customer percived by the customer

based on the orginal post here I would have handled this as a customer "A"
one of the first questions I would have ask is "why are you here?"

I see it as a customer, first "wants" the connection within 8hrs and when told it requires 24hrs the customer "feels" this is too long!

next question why was 24hrs too long?

the next red flag that is present is the fact that the customer servce personal had to "make calls" to confirm and come back with a YES

So now we have a situation where a customer wants something they have been told they can't have, and for whatever reason somebody has said they can (sounds like a unreasonable promise for a unresonable request)

I would have loved to hear a recording of the conversation to hear what was "really said" by the customer to allow this to happen!

yes the above comments are genneraly correct with the percieved missing link between servce and sales

but at the end of the day if a company is not responsibe enough to turn down some customers because "we don't want them type" then thats something they need to work out and the losser here is the customer because they will probably never get the service they require from that comany while the provider will keep sending you bills.

next question,johnny458 how did it all go in the end?
is the service now how you expect?
or do you still have ongoing issues?


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 Where does Customer Service start ?

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