Sales and customer service, the same thing?
During my sales training sessions, I often hear employees reply: “I was hired to do customer service, not sales”. The question to ask is whether or not sales and customer service are the same thing. In the public sector Clearly, if the employee is part of a service-only organization, such as a government agency, there […]
In the public sector
Clearly, if the employee is part of a service-only organization, such as a government agency, there is no direct sale to be made. And yet, the customer service agent’ s job is to understand the customer’s situation and objectives, explain the regulations in force and “sell” the choice of the best solution for him or her. But he has no product or service to sell.
In the company
It’s in a company that sells products or services that the problem arises, and some of the service agents remark that they were hired for service, not sales.
And yet, from the company’s point of view, every contact with a customer should be an opportunity to propose.
Let’s look at it from the customer’s point of view. If you go to a doctor to ask for a syrup for a sore throat, and he gives it to you, is he providing good service? No, because you’re not a doctor and this may not be what you need.
What should the doctor do?
- First of all, consult your file to find out about your history and whether you often come for the same thing. Well, the customer service agent should do the same and consult the customer’s file to find out about his or her history.
- Then ask yourself questions to find out how long you’ve had a sore throat and what your symptoms are. An agent should do the same with his customer to find out about his situation and expectations.
- Checking you for other symptoms, this is the same as observing the customer’s problems.
- Depending on your needs, you may be offered nothing at all, a syrup, antibiotics or further tests by a specialist. The service agent, for his part, must also propose the best solution to the customer, and not necessarily what he asks for.
All of this is in fact a consultative sales process, i.e. a customer problem-solving process. Like the doctor, the service agent knows his products and services, so he’s in the best position to advise his customer.
I heard of a real-life example in a financial institution, where a long-standing customer is going to spend his winter in Florida. Some time later, he suffers a heart attack. The good news is that he gets treatment and pulls through, the bad news is that when he returns home to Quebec, a bill for $180,000 is waiting for him… So he has to sell his house and end his life in need.
The customer service agent who has served him for 20 years at his financial institution, and who refuses to make sales because “she’s not cut out for it”, could and even should have sold him travel insurance, or a credit card with insurance, which would have covered him, was in fact the the best way to serve your interlocutor.
The same goes for a customer service and sales agent in an insurance company who responds to a quote for a car, without asking the customer if he or she owns the car and has insurance.
The agent’s job is not just to meet the customer’s expressed need, but to take advantage of the contact to find out what the customer’s needs are and offer the best.
Every contact should be an opportunity to sell.
There should be no pressure selling, only consultative selling, and the customer service agent should be the doctor of the specialty in which he or she works.
The advisor proposes, the customer disposes.