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If your brand’s fortunate enough and works hard enough at service and engagement before and after the sale, a one-time customer can become a lifetime customer who also creates additional customers.

But often, there is a disconnect between sales and customer service where the two don’t work together to attract new customers and keep current ones.  As an example, I recently visited the customer care section of a major eyewear/apparel brand, and because it was after their live customer service business hours, sent an email requesting help with a missing part for my son’s glasses that I could not find via their website or the search engines. Two weeks later, and after several additional emails to them marked high priority, they still haven’t answered or acknowledged my customer care request.

That same night, I went to the product section of the site and ordered a part that I hoped would work with my son’s make of glasses. Within one minute of purchase, I received an auto-acknowledgement email thanking me for my order, and have since received seven additional emails promoting the brand’s sales and summer products. Meanwhile, still no email or acknowledgement from customer care. Will I ever buy from them again based on this happy-to-sell, but not happy-to-help experience? Not unless I absolutely have to. They’ve lost my loyalty, trust and continued interest (and investment) in their brand.

Customer Service and Sales: Better Together

According to recent research from NewVoice Media, an estimated $41 billion is lost by U.S. companies alone each year due to poor customer service experiences. If your brand’s sales and customer service departments aren’t working closely together, they should be.  Here are seven ways customer service can support sales:
 

  1. More Sales through Customer Evangelists. Delight a customer and they will tell their friends. The average number of people a social customer will tell about a good customer experience: 42, according to the American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer.
     
  2. Sales Retention through Customer Service Knowledge. The best salespeople should be able to quickly connect their customers to support, know their customers’ current issues, and be able to view and update them on the progress.
     
  3. Increased Sales through Responsiveness and Personalization. When the customer feels like the whole company knows and cares about them beyond the sale and through to customer service, retention and future sales are sure to follow. P.S. If you use a channel for sales (such as email in my personal story above), also use it for customer service (and be just as responsive).
     
  4. New Customers from Engagement. When a prospective customer sees a brand actively engaging their current customers on social media, not just in conversation but in customer service, it’s most impressive. When companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company, notes a Bain & Company study.
     
  5. Customer Retention through Action on Feedback. When a customer requests or makes a suggestion for a product or service, and it is made so – cha-ching! You’ve earned their business for years to come.
     
  6. Helping and Selling Customers on Chat. Live chat is a staple of customer service, but it’s also a helpful sales tool. May I help you find something? Are you having trouble with checkout? Might I suggest this for you instead? Proactive customer service and engagement via live chat can be sales’ best friend.
     
  7. Courting Customers with Content. Content is king, every facet of it, including customer service. According to Fleishmann-Hillard, 80% of consumers go directly to business websites or turn to Google, Bing or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses before any human to human interaction takes place (if it ever does). Make sure your customer service knowledgebase/FAQ section is up-to-date and search friendly to bring new customers to your site and satisfy current ones through information.

Forrester Research calculates that just a 10% improvement in an enterprise company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion in increased revenue. Make sure your brand’s sales and customer service teams are working together to give that extra 10%.

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