Over the years I’ve noticed that there is a common discord between sales and service/operations. I was even asked in an interview, “how would you go about mending the relationship between sales and service?” which made me question what exactly was I getting myself into. The level of customer service in Trinidad & Tobago is at an extremely poor level and as much as we complain about it there are also ways to fix it. For companies experiencing this challenge, here are 4 things the leadership team can look into to help solve the problem. 1) Stop the Finger Pointing: If you speak to both departments, each will tell you that it’s the other department’s fault. While there may be some truth in specific situations it’s hardly ever the norm and more of an exception. “Your salespeople are not selling properly” - said the service manager or “Your service team lacks professionalism,” said the sales manager. These disputes get the company nowhere and in the end, spills out into the public space where the customer experience is now negative. “Lyndon it’s clear that your sales and service departments don’t operate well together” - Customer
2) Operate as ONE TEAM The customer’s journey with your organisation should be smooth, from stage one, two, three, etc. However, in some instances customers have the had the experience that sales and service are two separate companies with different objectives. I once had a customer say to me “Lyndon it’s clear that your sales and service departments don’t operate well together”. As much as this was true, it should never be so apparent to the customer that they can tell you about it. This, in the end, affects the customer’s level of comfort/satisfaction when it comes to after sales and their ability to feel that they made the right decision. To achieve this there much be collaboration. | “I appreciate the opportunity, to be part of the meeting” - Service Manager
3) Communicate & Collaborate Often: Communication is always the key when it comes to bridging any divide. One strategy I took was to start including the service team at my monthly sales meeting. This allowed the sales team to share feedback received from customers on the level/quality of the after sales. On the flip side, it gave the service team the ability to share their challenges with the sales team when errors are made in the sales process. Overall, both teams got better in the way they communicated, sold and addressed customer issues. "I think I’ll like to give sales a shot" - Service Technician
4) Cross-Training & Career Transitions: One thing we expected was that the teams will have a better understanding of each other's departments and how they work. However, one surprising benefit was that it created an opportunity for members of either team to request a change from one team to the next. I had the experience of seeing a service technician, after having a better understanding of sales ask to transition across into sales. This was of major benefit to the organisation as we had someone experienced from the service end, now on our frontline. We also had a revitalized and motivated employee that also gave the sales team new energy and confidence. 5) Share in the wins and losses: Both departments represent the organisation, which means there is one common goal, mission, and vision. As stated in the first point, I've seen departments point fingers at each other when a major customer cites reasons as to why they have decided to terminate their relationship with the organisation. This does nothing but create a further divide and not look at the bigger picture of what needs to be done to not have this happen again. With leadership taking the responsibility to share in the wins and losses of new and existing customers, the team becomes stronger and operates as ONE UNIT. "One of us is not as strong as all of us" - Ken Blanchard
Conclusion Two departments ONE TEAM, regardless of how they are internally structured, what different budgetary objectives they have for the year, its all one unit. Each department is dependant on the other, i.e. Nothing is done until a sale is made, and nothing works until the technician services. The growth of a company, especially at this pivotal economic time is pegged on how well each team does, independently and as a unit. From closing new business opportunities to retaining and keeping existing customers happy. Both units must share in the responsibility of doing their best and doing it together.
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