Sales AND Support — Not Sales VS Support

fightSome years ago I received a call from AT&T to tell me about their U-verse service and how it would save me a ton of money over what I was paying Dish Network.  I’m a little foggy on the details years later but for Internet and television I would have been paying half of what I was paying for just television.  Was it too good to be true?

When I received my first bill, it ended up being significantly higher than I was quoted.  While it was still a savings from what I had been paying, I felt that I had been deceived by the sales guy I spoke with.  At this point it became a support problem that required several phone calls to customer service and I was put in the position of needing to haggle to get somewhere close to the price I was originally quoted.  In the end, the best they could do was about ten dollars more than I was quoted and that would only last for six months.

This had the look of a situation where the sales person got me in the door with an amazing price, got his commission and gladly handed me off to support to clean up his mess.  Had I known the inner workings of AT&T sales and support, it’s entirely possible there was a reasonable explanation for this.  The fact of the matter is that I didn’t and therefore, assumed the worst.  I was deceived, duped, tricked and hoodwinked.

Have you ever been in my shoes?  This happens all the time doesn’t it?  From the perspective inside a contact center, the marriage between sales and support is indeed a delicate one.  Each support call that begins with “sales promised me this…” threatens this relationship.  Allow me to offer some suggestions to forge a lasting bond between sales and support:

  1. Train Sales To Do Support- Your sales team does not need to be experts in customer service but they need to have a strong understanding of the systems, processes and products for your company.  This ensures that they understand the capabilities of the system they are selling and also gives them some cred with the support staff.  That’s right– I said “cred.”
  2. Include Sales In Your Support Meetings- Sales staff needs to spend time with the support staff both in regular meetings and team building exercises.  Never neglect the important practice of building relationships.
  3. Everyone Must Leave Notes- Notes on accounts are critical.  Both sales and support MUST think carefully about the things they tell customers.  If the answer to the question “would I want to know this information if the customer calls back?” is yes, then note it.
  4. “Sales Promised Me This…”- When a customer calls and says they were promised something by sales, go to the source and ask them.  By speaking with a coworker, you are searching for a reasonable explanation rather than assuming the worst.  It’s best to present a united front to the customer.
  5. Call Customers Back- There’s no better way to make a customer feel used than to stop returning their calls after you have closed the sale.  Call customers back before AND after the sale is closed.

The dynamic between sales and support is a delicate one indeed.  I shared one example but have lost count of how many times I have been through this exact situation both from the perspective of the customer and the company.  If we are going to be known for AWESOME customer service, it’s clear that sales and support must be on the same page.

Now, if you have a great example of a time where sales pulled the wool over your eyes to get you in the door, do tell!

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Jeremy Watkin is a Product Marketing Manager at 8x8. He has more than 19 years of experience as a customer service professional leading high performing teams in the contact center. Jeremy has been recognized numerous times as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working you can typically find him spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis. Be sure to connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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