Happy customers are the best salespeople. Just ask Modern Marine. In a story recounted in The Tennessean, Ben Hanback and his friend Chris Williams bought a boat from the genius marketers at Modern Marine. Knowing their customers meant owners Johnny and Jason Padgent recognized and took advantage of the fact that the second-best thing to sailing for a boat owner is talking about his or her boat.
Johnny and Jason asked Ben and Chris to come to the boat show wearing “I am a happy Modern Marine customer and I would love to answer any questions!” name tags.
“We quickly found ourselves talking about how much fun our families had on the boat over the summer and the memories we were making vs. the features of the boat, gas prices and price tag. Needless to say we’ve worked the boat show ever since.”
Using customer service for sales can be incredibly effective. Here’s how to make it happen.
1. Provide a great experience
A Harvard Business Review report tells a story of a pay television company who had consistently high ratings on each customer interaction, but low customer experience satisfaction overall.
Puzzled, they looked at their customer onboarding process. They found that each step of the process went well: six or so phone calls, a home visit from a technician, and numerous web and mail exchanges. But that in key customer segments, average satisfaction fell almost 40% over the course of the three-month journey. The problem wasn’t with the steps, it was with the fact that there were so many of them, and over such a long period.
From the report: “A company that manages complete journeys would not only do its best with the individual transaction but also seek to understand the broader reasons for the call, address the root causes, and create feedback loops to continuously improve interactions upstream and downstream from the call.”
No one is going to sell their friends on a long, complicated, frustrating journey.
There is often no single person with responsibility for orchestrating and, when necessary, fixing the entire journey. But customers aren’t waiting for companies to work out their organizational issues. They’re switching for a better experience.
People will tell you that they make purchasing decision rationally, using metrics such as price and quality. But the truth is that people make decisions based on their feelings, then rationalize those decisions with logic and information.
2. Reward great service
Rewarding superior customer experience can motivate support personnel to go beyond the minimum requirements or SLAs. One study recommends basing bonuses, in part, on customer satisfaction. However, customer satisfaction is a result, and incentives work better when they’re aimed at rewarding actions. These could include cross-team cooperation or creating and implementing new operating procedures.
In addition to being personal, knowledgeable, and multi faceted in conversation on different platforms, customer service can also aid in skyrocketing sales by providing authenticity. This goes along with being personal, but it goes one step further.
You should also segment your customer service. The 80/20 rule (20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue) applies here. Don’t treat the 20% like the rest. For example, Hubspot recommends offering high-volume ecommerce customers expedited shipping or cheaper rates because shipping costs are even more important to customers who are placing orders frequently.
This helps customers feel like individuals in your eyes.
3. Use reciprocity
Kissmetrics recommends above-and-beyond service because it can trigger feelings of obligation in customers. Initiating a follow-up conversation, for instance, can make a customer or potential customer feel cared about. They may feel the need to “treat the company better, promote them, recommend them, or buy more things upon a company’s well wishes and helpful solving of their problem.”
Of course a feeling of obligation alone won’t help you if your customers don’t know how to reward great service. You’re more likely to reap the benefits of a feeling of obligation if you ask your customers to help you.
So after agents go above and beyond, train them to ask them for something. Ask them to refer a friend, or leave a review, for instance.
Your happy customers can be your most effective salespeople, if you know how to utilize them. Are you using customer service for sales? How’s it working for you? Let us know in the comments!