360-Degree View Promises Delivery

Do all the external-facing departments in your company see the world through your
customer’s eyes? All customer touch points, including marketing, sales, customer
service, technical support and accounts receivables, should be integrated with each
other.

No matter who your customers connect with in your company, their experience must be
consistent, clear and coordinated, an integrated “360-degree” view of your customer,
ensuring that promise and delivery are in sync.

Three elements of a company propel its business: marketing, sales and customer
service. Most companies know, theoretically, that these three elements need to work
together effectively to produce steady sales, revenue growth and happy customers.
Frequently, however, there are aspects of human nature that get in the way of each of
these elements, preventing them from performing at peak opportunity. The ability to
identify, address and resolve these issues goes a long way towards building a loyal
customer base that keeps coming back.

Marketing: The Introduction and the Promise

A business’ marketing materials frequently serve as its “letter of introduction” to
prospects. Brochures, direct mail pieces, product sheets, newsletters, advertisements,
Web sites — all of these introduce prospective customers to your business’ offerings, or
inform current customers of additional offerings that may be of interest.
But it’s equally important that these materials also feed the internal knowledge of the
sales and customer service staff. Therefore, it is imperative that information put forth in
these materials be clear, concise, accurate and, most significantly, focused on what is
important to the customer.

Send these materials to your internal people before you send them outside. As obvious
as that sounds, it’s amazing how many customer service, sales and even operations
people never see customer communications materials in advance of the customer. That
dropped step leaves staff unprepared for customer questions, comments and
expectations — and often makes the customer the first bearer of news.

Sales: The Listener and the Relationship-Builder

A sales representative is a business’s ambassador to its customers and prospects. Since
strong relationships are built on trust, a firm’s sales reps must possess a keen
understanding of the breadth, depth and scope of his/her company’s offerings.
While sales reps are usually compensated based upon the number of sales they make,
their relationships with customers should be based on integrity and honesty as these
will produce a much longer “shelf-life” for the business, bearing more repeated rewards
over time than a quick sale based on sketchy details.

To achieve this, it is crucial that the salesperson’s articulation of the company’s
offerings be identical to the information and offers in the marketing pieces. This way,
the printed message reinforces, and is reinforced by, the verbal messages. Connecting
the two is how trust is built.

Customer Service: The Promise-Keeper

The third element of the equation is to ensure that the customer service team is singing
the same song as the sales and marketing teams.

If your customer digests your marketing materials, then shakes hands on a deal with
your salesperson, and then calls for service or clarification and gets a different message,
you have disconnected your organization from that customer’s expectations.

Even if the same message is delivered but in different words, the result could be
customer frustration. It is fundamental to your business’ success that post-sale
communication underscores those ideas that prompted your customer to buy in the first
place.

Never underestimate the importance of the comfort of the customer with his/her buying
decision, post-sale, as it is vital to a long-term relationship. A well-trained, well
informed customer service team can cement that relationship for your business.

The Same Page

Problems arise in businesses when these three elements harbor different
understandings, or different messages, or different approaches.

Your marketing reps may be trying to tout an aspect of a product or service which, to
them, seems fresh and revolutionary, while sales sees the customer as seeking a simple,
dependable solution. So sales reps, in their enthusiasm to please the customer and strike
a deal, may promise delivery on things that are not yet ready for customer
consumption.

Customer service, in turn, may not have sufficient training concerning the customer
account and the application, cost or turnaround of the product or service, confusing the
customer even more than before he/she placed a call.

Though it may be possible to achieve business success when marketing, sales and
customer service each have different goals, objectives and agendas, a lot of luck is
needed. It plays to that old adage: There is never time to do it right, but there is always
time to do it over if it doesn’t work.

Instead, smart companies act to ensure that each department is reading from the same
page. When all three divisions work together in concert, the customer’s experience
flows from promise to relationship to delivery — turning customer expectations into
customer satisfaction and trust.

— Chuck Dennis & Lisa Dennis
© Knowledgence Associates, 2011 / All Rights Reserved

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