The Customer Service/Sales Profile

The power of Customer Relations Management (CRM) lies in its ability to help create, maintain, and expand customer relationships. Managers and executives are excited and ready to begin delving into the process of creating their own CRM strategy, whether at the organization level or as it applies to their specific areas or department. Before doing that, it is important to take a more in-depth look at who the current customers are and what their relationships with the relevant executive and manager look like. The given model, the Customer Service/Sales Profile, will help these mangers and executives do three things.

First, it will show what kind of customer relationships they are trying to create. Is your success based in initial, standalone transactions? Or does the nature of your service or product put customers in partnership with you over longer periods of time? How important is it for you to have satisfied customers acting as word-of-mouth advocates for you in the marketplace?

Second, the Customer Service/Sales Profile will help identify strengths in current CRM practices. Even in cases where there’s no formal CRM strategy, if you’ re still in business, you must be doing something right, maybe several or many things. Knowing what right practices have evolved naturally will help create the greatest possible improvement with least amount of expense.

Third, because this process creates a visual image of customer relationships, you will find it helpful in communicating to others throughout the organization. Knowing your current profile and the desired profile will naturally help you focus your energy and attention.

Why Call It the Customer Service/Sales Profile?
We call our model the Customer Service/Sales Profile because every business activity is ultimately justified by how it serves the customer. Even if you and your team never see a cash-paying external customer, the contribution you make must have some positive impact on those external customer relationships or else you should strongly question its value and purpose. We use the phrase “Service/Sales” to remind us of three important facts.

1) Sales do not equal relationships. Way back in 1983, Theodore Levitt wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review titled “After the Sale Is Over.” In it he explained that the sale is just the beginning of the relationship with your customer-a relationship more akin to a marriage than to a one-night stand. And consultants, practitioners, researchers, and authors have been building on this theme ever since.

Yes, a sale is a very important point in customer relationships. However, it is bracketed by the quality of service you are willing to offer, able to deliver, and credited with providing to your customers.

2) Service extends beyond the buyer. Whether you are selling in-home plumbing repair or pacemakers or e-business solutions, creating a customer relationship, and extending the opportunities you have to do business together means more than wooing the individual who writes the check or signs the contract. You need to consider all the people who touch or who are touched by your product or service.

3) Service and sales are on the same team. All too often, we are called into sales organizations or customer service departments that claim that everything would be better if “those other people” in service or sales “would just straighten up and get their act together.”

The sales people lament that the customer service people just complain, complain and complain about irritating details like few over-promises or a couple if tight delivery deadlines. “Don’t they know that we’ve got to promise those things to get the sale?”

The customer service people roll their eyes at visions of golf club-swinging sales types teeing off with unrealistic promises and assurances that “the customer service team will be happy to move mountains for you.” “Don’t they know we have policies? If we did that for this customer, we’d have to make the same exception for every customer.”

The truth is that to win the game of business, sales and service has to be playing on the same team. The phrase Service/Sales can serve as a reminder for both groups that you win only when you work together.