To some people, the thought of a customer service team and a business strategy group working together could be compared to oil and water. Strategy pros are often the “dreamer” type, thinking big and worrying about how to accomplish their ideas at a later date. Customer service experts, on the other hand, are often meticulous and process oriented people focused on keeping a wide array of customers happy in a timely fashion. So, how exactly can these two functional areas work together – and more importantly – how does connecting them lead to business success? Here are a few ways to achieve a customer focused business strategy…
Hearing customer feedback from the source is vital to any successful growth strategy – Too often, business strategy looks to spend thousands of dollars on customer research because there is a feeling that their organization doesn’t “get” their customers. This is frequently not the case, and who knows how customers think better than the team that is on the front lines with them every day? The customer service team can illustrate existing issues in detail that the strategy team may be unaware of or detached from. Setting up frequent (weekly or monthly) “check in” meetings between strategy and customer service can keep feedback aligned and relevant for both parties. This tactic is especially effective at SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies where things change quickly.
Customer service can ensure strategy concepts will be “real” to customers – Strategy experts are fantastic at pulling ideas out of the air that nobody else can see or comprehend. However, sometimes with this genius also comes misunderstanding. When the strategy team fails to look outside of their own circle, they can use the wrong industry word in a campaign or promote something with a negative association to customers. Fortunately for strategy, this is where the customer service team comes into play to help them avoid customer service mistakes. They can keep the strategy team grounded and fine tune their broad concepts to ensure everyday language is being used that customers will understand. This collaboration results in strategy efforts resonating more strongly with current and prospective customers, and most importantly, more success and growth opportunities.
Align the goals of business strategy and customer service to improve success – It can be easy for strategy and customer service to exist in two different worlds. After all, they are two distinct departments within a company featuring two unique skillsets. Instead of letting the variance in skills drive a wedge, embrace them and create a true team culture. Provide customer service a stake in new business acquisition rewards and give the strategy team a piece of the business retention spoils. This will inspire customer service agents to upsell when appropriate and encourage strategy to focus on retention campaigns instead of always attempting to drive new business. In the modern era of large corporations, sometimes your biggest competitor can be yourself if your team isn’t motivated by a stake in the success of the entire company.
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To summarize, connecting customer service and business strategy leads to success because the two teams complement each other well in the workplace. Sure, at first glance they may seem like the “odd couple”, but the strengths of one can help conceal the weaknesses of the other. Aligning customer service and strategy ensures both departments are grounded, forward-thinking, practical, and collaborative. Having a successful business relationship between the two departments can also fuel growth. It enables a company to have an innovative perspective on how they approach customers in both short and long-term situations.