Customer service as a revenue driver is a relatively new concept. Businesses used to see it as merely a cost center that should prioritize metrics like speed, scale, and margins. But increasingly, the most innovative customer support leaders are recognizing how important customer experience is to their bottom line.
In fact, in Salesforce’s most recent State of the Connected Customer survey, more than 50% of respondents say their management now views the support department as a revenue generator.
It really does make sense: your customer support team is one of the only direct touchpoints with your customers, so they have a huge impact on your customers’ perception of your company. Great customer experiences drive loyalty, loyalty drives retention, and retention means revenue without the acquisition costs. So an organization that sees support as a mere cost center is losing out on the opportunity to increase customer lifetime value — and therefore losing out on profits.
Data from the customers’ perspective backs this up as well:
“88% of respondents consider experience to be as critical as the product itself, in deciding whether or not to buy from a company.”
When the experience of interacting with a company has essentially become a product in itself, it’s crucial to make that experience an exceptional one. Here are a few ways that you can shift to a more revenue-oriented customer service approach and drive growth with customer support.
1. Empower your customer service team to bring in the cash
If you want your customer support team to sell, you have to give them the tools to do so. Make sure they’re armed with as much product knowledge as the sales team, then train them to upsell and/or cross-sell when the time is right. Allow them to handle both post-sale and pre-sale questions to make this even easier.
"Many companies think of customer support as a post-sale function. By doing that, they're totally missing out on prospects that could be having trouble buying."
Hosam Hassan, Support Automation Expert, Ultimate
If the support team actually selling doesn’t make sense for your business, train them to proactively notify the sales team when they find sales opportunities instead. And when a customer is making a return, have your team suggest items that can be exchanged at equal or higher value.
Lastly, give your customer support agents an incentive to sell. Whether that’s in the form of commission or career development or simple recognition, a little encouragement goes a long way in motivating a change in behavior.
Empower your team with the right support skills
2. Listen to customer feedback
Listening to your customers is the first step to creating a truly customer-centric organization. By listening to what your customers want and addressing their needs, you can ensure your customer support function is set up for success from the start.
Some ways you can collect feedback from your customers might include surveys, usability tests, social media listening, public reviews, a “Was this helpful?” button on your website, or a questionnaire at the end of customer support interactions that collects CSAT and other information. You can then use the information gathered to tweak your customer service experiences to be exactly what your customers need.
Customers crave efficient and personalized service. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a business that offers personalized customer experiences. So creating a frictionless experience that feels tailored to each individual customer will create exceptional CX that drives loyalty in the long run.
3. Automate your customer service, but not at all costs
Customers want their problems solved fast. Over 60% of customers say the most important part of a good customer experience is getting their problem resolved quickly.
The best way to provide efficient customer service, especially when it comes to simple or repetitive problems like asking for a shipment update or canceling an order, is with automation. This has the dual benefit of generating revenue automatically and cutting down on some operational costs.
A bot or a virtual agent can instantly resolve your customer requests while allowing human agents to tackle the more complex cases that require human intelligence and empathy. A virtual agent is also perfect for allowing customers to self-serve. Your bot can surface FAQ articles that answer your customers’ questions; just be sure to sprinkle some opportunities to purchase items or add-on upgrades throughout those help articles if you want to generate even more sales.
"Uber does this best. They use the perfect mix of bots and humans to get their customers from point A to point B. The repetitive booking flow is handled by a bot but then a human is responsible for the rest!"
Hosam Hassan, Support Automation Expert, Ultimate
Customer service as a revenue generator
Customer service as a revenue generator is a trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s clear that it’s no longer a viable business model to let your product speak for itself or to only offer the bare minimum level of service. By empowering your agents to sell, listening to what your customers want, and automating processes that can be automated to cut costs and increase efficiency, you can leverage good customer service into increased sales.
To maximize the ROI of your support team, both in regard to the level of service your customers receive and the amount of revenue you generate, it is essential to think of your customer service as a growth driver. It’s a simple switch in mindset, but don’t be surprised when that change results in your customer support team paying for itself.