How to achieve the holy grail: True integration of customer service


This is a guest post from Monika Götzmann, the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group.

In today’s sales environment, where competing based purely on product and price is no longer sufficient, the customer experience you deliver is arguably the key competitive differentiator. Not only can it generate loyalty and repeat business, it can also improve your organisation’s reputation and sales effectiveness.

Indeed, the level of customer service you provide goes a long way towards determining overall success or failure. According to HelpScout, 70 percent of customers are willing to spend more with companies that offer excellent customer service, while 78 percent have bailed on an intended purchase due to poor service.

With that being said, the very best customer experiences are delivered by organisations that have successfully integrated customer service into the very core of their corporate culture. In this article, we explain how you can achieve this Holy Grail of true integration of customer service, and reap the rewards.

1. Take Responsibility For the Customer Experience

The first step towards achieving this kind of true integration of customer service throughout your organisation is for leaders to take responsibility for customer service. Company culture must also make clear that everybody – from the C-suite, to sales, to marketing and of course customer service – is responsible for the customer experience.

Unfortunately, in many organisations, this attitude does not exist. Instead, customer service is thought of as the sole responsibility of the customer service department and its frontline reps. While they certainly have a vital role to play, this attitude can be the downfall of any customer service strategy.

“So many factors that make up the performance of a frontline customer service employee are dependent on decisions made higher up,” says Micah Solomon, writing for Forbes. “Have company leaders allocated the resources necessary for great customer service? Has company leadership invested in finding and implementing a methodology that supports the recruiting and selection of frontline customer-facing employees?”

2. Map Out and Understand the Customer Journey

The customer journey is now more fragmented than ever before and customers have access to organisations through a whole range of different channels, including the world wide web, email, social media, the telephone and in-person communication. Integrated customer service requires both an awareness and understanding of this.

Using the customer journey as a design point is not only essential for customer service training, but for sales enablement generally. Yet, in the CSO Insights 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, it was found that the majority of businesses (53.8 percent) only have random or informal customer journey alignment in place.

To make customer service an integral part of all aspects of your organisation, you must map out the customer journey, understand which departments come into contact with customers at each stage, learn what customers need and expect at each stage of their journey, and use this information to inform your training and coaching strategy.

3. Provide Continuous Learning and Feedback

Next, you need to ensure that you are using service training and customer service coaching programmes to develop the customer service skills of your staff, and that this learning is a continuous process, with regular feedback. This means committing time and money to the cause, and adopting a formal, defined approach to coaching.

Customer service coaching should not be limited to customer service staff either. All staff should be coached to develop their own customer service skills and learning about how they can boost sales effectiveness by improving the experience provided at the phases of the customer journey they are involved in.

“When it comes to providing your staff with the required expertise to deliver superior customer service, the type of training you offer is of paramount importance,” says Michael Hawthorne from Miller Heiman Group. “Ideally, customer service courses should blend in-person training with digital solutions.”

4. Ensure Your Leaders Are Being Trained Too

Again, it is essential that leaders within your organisation take responsibility for customer service and, in order to do this, it is imperative that they are also provided with sufficient training in this area. This means departmental heads and other leaders need to also attend customer service training sessions.

Unfortunately, we already know that many sales organisations have significant room for improvement when it comes to training leaders. The CSO Insights 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report revealed that 18.6 percent of organisations make no financial investment in training their sales managers whatsoever.

It is impossible for leaders within your organisation to recognise good and bad customer service and to coach others on delivering excellent customer service unless they have training in this area themselves. This learning needs to be continuous and aligned to the customer journey.

5. Establish a Brand Promise and Measure Performance

Finally, one of the best ways to ensure that your organisation achieves true integration of customer service is to draw up a brand promise. Effectively, this refers to the experience that you promise to deliver customers and it can serve as the focal point for your entire customer service strategy, helping to bring it all together.

One of the interesting revelations from the CSO Insights 2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study was the fact that only 36 percent of organisations felt they consistently live up to their brand promise. However, when this was restricted to world-class organisations only, the number increased to 89 percent, highlighting its value.

This shows how important it is to clearly define your brand promise and ensure that everyone in the organisation understands it, and what they need to do to contribute towards it. Make continuously living up to your brand promise a key metric for every single department.

Each department and individuals performance should be measured on a regular basis – most tend to do this on a monthly basis to see how the team and individuals are performing against the agreed target for brand promise, which should be broken down into all of the individual touchpoints with a customer over the journey – and the measurement of success for each. Individual customer feedback is another important metric to incorporate.

The teams performance should then also be fed into the companies overall performance which is usually reviewed on a quarterly basis.


This is a guest post from Monika Götzmann, the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group.
Author Bio:
Monika GötzmannMonika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global customer experience and sales training company helping organisations develop dynamic sales skills in their sales people. Culturally savvy, she has years of international experience in B2B marketing on behalf of dynamic, world-class enterprises. She likes to share her experience to help organisations.

You can connect with Monika on LinkedIn here and say Hi to her on Twitter @GoetzmannMonika.

Thanks to Pixabay for the image.


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