Manufacturing & Distribution

Prioritizing Customer Service Boosts Seller Productivity

Customer service is the backbone of high-performing commercial organizations. These organizations view the Customer Service function not as a cost center but as a revenue driver. Prioritizing customer service can lead to increased customer lifetime value and improved seller productivity by reducing the number of service-related tasks sellers perform. Identifying which tasks drive customer satisfaction and sales effectiveness to grow revenue is critical.

Customer Service Drivers

Leading companies know the value of keeping their existing customer base happy. Increased retention and the higher likelihood of upselling or cross-selling these customers have a multiplying effect on the revenue they generate over their lifetime.

  • Nearly three-quarters – 74% of customers – will pay more for a great experience.
  • 77% of customers are likely to share a positive brand experience.

On the flip side, a poor customer experience creates hard costs to the organizations, in addition to the opportunity cost of potentially losing these customers. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative customer experience.

  • A customer is 4x more likely to purchase from a competitor if the problem is service-related vs. product-related.
  • It costs 6-7x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer.

The benefits are clear, but aligning the activities and responsibilities in a cost-effective manner is the critical next step. ¹

Building a Successful Customer Service Organization

Identifying the specific service-related activities is essential to realigning the sales and customer service organizations. It starts with an assessment to understand the effect of shifting activities and their impact on customers. The next step is to develop practical solutions that address these five primary areas:

1. Elevate customer service mandate.

Without understanding the impact of customer service on revenue growth, it can be easy to overlook this function’s importance. The current customer service organization may be a low priority, resulting in generalist roles and inconsistent initiative deployment. A tailored approach, backed by investment, is often required to prioritize customer service. Evaluating roles based on strategic importance and aligning them to the optimal organizational structure can help ensure growth.

2. Align with the buyer journey and cost profile by segment.

A Forrester study and job management survey indicate that customers prefer a single point of contact. However, keeping each customer service representative (CSR) tied to a list of accounts is costly and may only be justified for top segments that can afford white glove treatment. Additionally, specialized teams may handle some requests better than a generalist CSR. There is no “one size fits all” approach. A specialized customer service organization, with varying service level agreements (SLAs) for different customer tiers, is required to balance the cost of service and customer experience.

3. Define job roles and ownership across the CS and sales team, focusing on job clarity and ownership.

CSR roles can become a catch-all of activities, leading to a need for greater role clarity. For instance, only 10-15% of CSR time is spent on customer support. However, CSRs can spend significant time on quoting activities despite a dedicated quotations role. Leading companies reduce the unnecessary overlap in roles and responsibilities and assign ownership to dedicated resources.

4. Train and enable CS teams for success.

Providing the customer service organization with adequate tools and associated training can significantly impact service levels and response times. For example, typical tasks such as placing repeat orders or tracking invoices or shipments can be expedited with appropriate tools in place, reducing the CS capacity required and improving customer experience.

5. Leverage metrics to drive actionable insights.

While customer service and call centers typically offer the opportunity to track multiple key performance indicators (KPIs), these KPIs are not always adequately leveraged. It is critical to derive actionable insights from these metrics and use them to train or update materials, such as playbooks. Call audits are a great way to supplement KPI insights and get to the root cause of the issues revealed in lackluster KPIs.

Improving Seller Productivity

A typically overlooked benefit of a well-designed and deployed customer service organization is the impact it may have on the sales organization, specifically on sellers’ engaged selling time. Alexander Group’s research indicates that more than half of the additional engaged selling time top sales organizations can get from sellers comes from the reduced time spent on customer service issues and implementation and/or delivery-related problems.

Manufacturing Seller Productivity Research- Alexander Group, INC.

The opportunity is apparent: free up sellers’ time so they can spend more time in front of customers on critical, engaged selling activities. But what’s the benefit? By shifting some of the service-related and implementation challenges to customer service, who are more equipped to manage these issues, sellers gain a sizeable productivity increase that directly translates to revenue growth:

$1M per seller productivity increase

We based our estimates on manufacturing companies generating $8M per seller and an increase in sellers’ engaged selling time of 13%, from 22% to 28% of their total available time.

Balancing CSR-related activities has a clear benefit. Placing the right activity in the job role best equipped to manage it can increase seller productivity and create a more robust bottom line.

Enhancing Revenue Growth

Balancing exceptional customer service and seller performance is essential to grow revenue. Determining job roles and responsibilities and associated metrics ensures your organization is on the path to growth.




Need more information?

For more information on how to improve seller engagement time, please contact an Alexander Group Manufacturing and Distribution practice lead.

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