Does your sales force know?Why is keeping the sales force updated important?

In a large organization, the sales team on an account may not know about issues the customer is having. Customer personnel may be calling the service organization with their problems. In many cases the front line staff in support handle the problems from the customers in an efficient and effective way and  the sales team need not know.

But what if the customer is not happy with the resolutions being offered. The sales team may be preparing a new proposal for the customer or have a presentation planned with the customer. If the sales team doesn’t know there are hot issues, they may walk into a firestorm at the customer’s office and be ill prepared to handle it.

What process could be put in place to notify the sales force?

A process would need to be created in the service organization that would allow any front line staff to create a notification record to identify when an individual in a customer organization appears to be agitated and / or is threatening to escalate.

The process would disseminate the information to the sales team in a timely fashion, including the nature of the problem, the people involved, the solution being worked on and the action plan to fix the problem.

After the initial notification goes out to the sales team, a follow up process would be needed as the action plan is executed, including the temperature of the affected customers.

How to create the internal notification process?

This is a bit more complicated than it sounds.

1. The service organization are unlikely to know WHO the sales person or sales team is for every customer who calls in, so this needs to be automated. The support representative just needs to know the name of the customer and the organization and be able to enter the issues into a system that will route the problem to the right sales staff and their management. The record should include the name of the support staff working on the problem, so the sales team can contact them, if necessary for additional information or to get involved.

2. Criteria need to be established to determine when to use the internal notification process: when should it be used and when it should NOT be used.

3. The service team and their management  needs to be trained on the process and the criteria.

4. The sales team and their management need to be trained on the process and what kinds of problems are likely to come to their attention.

5. The sales team may also want to have some additional criteria added to the general rules for an individual or individuals at their customer or for the entire organization.

6. Once established, regular reporting to both service and sales management should be implemented to show the number and nature of incidents being reported.

What do to first?

1. Engage the sales team. Find out what issues they have been involved in where they were blindsided.

2. Engage the support team. Get feedback from them on their ability to predict when a customer is getting angry before erupting and escalating.

3. Work with your systems department to create a process that will allow the  service problem report to route to the right sales staff.

4. Create a process to regularly update the routing system, as sales staff may change.

5. Train both sales, service and both management teams.

6. Monitor results and fine tune as necessary.

 

Do you have a notification process in your organization that signals the sales team when a customer is dissatisfied? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

 

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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

One Response to “Warning: Is Your Sales Force blindsided by Customer Service?”

  1. Customer Service - Keep Sales Informed: an IBM Example | Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management Says:

    […] an earlier blog post titled: Warning, Is your Sales Force blindsided by Customer Service I talked about the need for customer service to keep sales informed about potential customer […]

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