Since time immemorial, sales and customer service have had a fraught relationship at best, and an outright adversarial relationship in the worst of times. Both are major budgetary expenses. Customer service has often drawn the short straw because it is seen as a budgetary drain while sales brings in the money. If one has to suffer, it is usually customer service.
There is also the fact that the sales department has a bigger budget to higher top-sales people and pay them generous commissions and bonuses in addition to their salary. Customer service is often treated like an entry-level position with fewer perks.
Finally, sales people often complain that their commissions are sabotaged by customer service. The job of the salesperson is to make the prospect a customer. The service side is more likely to err on the side of placating the customer rather than retaining the customer. It doesn’t have to be that way. Adversarial relationships within a corporation are dysfunctional relationships. When this occurs, both sides will suffer. Here is how a more functional relationship looks:
Customer Service Is a Key Factor in Government Purchasing
Contrary to popular belief, the government at every level is very careful about purchasing mission critical equipment. There is a lot riding on every transaction with the potential for high levels of accountability for mistakes made during the process. Many believe that the lowest bid is all that matters. But that is far from the whole story.
Customer service might well be the most important factor for mission critical, government purchases. That equipment is linked to projects that can ill-afford downtime. When considering which inspection robot manufacturer will supply the fleet, top providers like Sarcos do more than provide assurances of the highest quality build for the most innovative products. They have to provide a track record of world class service. When it comes to the largest contracts, there will be no sales without world-beating service.
For Good or Bad, Customer Service Becomes a Part of the Brand
Your customer service becomes a part of the complete customer experience strategy. Customer experience does not stop at purchase, timely receipt of the item, unboxing, and initial use. It has to extend to when the customer runs into issues they cannot resolve on their own.
How that experience goes becomes a part of the brand. There are many companies that make compelling products with high, initial satisfaction that have earned a poor reputation for service. That becomes a brand that is tarnished in the minds of future consumers.
Likewise, when a brand is associated with good service, it becomes one of the key factors consumers use for trusting a new product or service from that company. The job of sales is much easier when it is supported by positive customer service experiences.
The Better the Customer Service, the More Customers Are Willing to Pay
There are many reasons good customer service allow you to charge more for your products and services. Even when your product is not the cause of problems the customer is having while using them, they still expect help. Not everyone is technically inclined. You can be a hero by providing that help. When they know that help is available and responsive, they will be willing to pay more for that product.
Particularly in the realm of consumer electronics, a hallmark of budget products is the lack of service. If service is available, the process for getting it is so onerous, no one is willing to go through it. Those who do tend to come away with an even great sense of frustration and wasted time. Serious customers do not have the time to waste. A clear and reliable process for service is often the difference between the winning bid and the lowest bid.
A dysfunctional relationship between sales and service is a sure sign that something is broken in your company. The healing can only happen when both sides realize that service is a key factor for winning government contracts. Service is an integral part of your brand. And the price people are willing to pay for your product is largely related to the premium your company puts on good service.