Does sales love or hate service? Does marketing care about either?
These may sound like questions to get clicks. But, I honestly think about such things as I evaluate the future of service in 2017.
Service has always relied on other business functions [to do work or get work done], but the inverse hasn’t always been true. The service team needs inventory, operations, the customer support team, sales, IT, engineering and even marketing to efficiently solve customer problems. But this one-sided relationship leads to some missed opportunities; like the creation of products that are difficult to service, sales folk who don’t sell the value of service, or technology investments which don’t take into account the user. As these missed opportunities turn into lost dollars, the importance of re-thinking the relationship between service and other functions is bound to change – specifically, the partnership between service, sales, and marketing.
Marketing Communicates the Service Story to Customers
In current research TSC is working on, organizations see the need to focus on consistently connecting and sharing the value delivered with customers while making it easier for customers to find the information they need. Having a dedicated service marketing team ensures understanding of service but also the importance of communicating the value service can provide. As more organizations see the value and importance of the customer experience and the impact service has on that experience, I expect there to be more of a dedicated effort by marketing to tell the service story of value. Telling the story is one step. But I also believe that there needs to be a service marketing business unit / team in order to achieve the strategic goals of –
– Communicating value to customers
– Making customer aware of the entire service(s) portfolio
– Helping close the divide from service provider to solution partner
– Educating various stakeholders within the customer of importance of action / investment
Invest in a Service Sales and Service Marketing Team
As seen in TSC research, the propensity to invest in resources which tie the sales and marketing functions to service are a priority for many manufacturers and service organizations. TSC data from 2016: 5 Major Transformations Impacting Service Businesses found that service sales and marketing headcount was the second most desired roles to be added to organizations in 2015, only trailing field service. This investment in cross-collaborative resources highlights the strategic vision of a service organization that runs more like product businesses of old and not just a support function – i.e., let’s innovate service offerings, communicate value to customers, and proactively sell the right solutions to the right customers to build loyalty and customers for life. But as these investments in new resources are made, organizations must be mindful to ensure the customer and their experience remains at the forefront of decisions and initiatives. The service team’s first job is to ensure customer issues get resolved, and a service sales or marketing team must always keep that as a priority.
All for One, One for All
The technician can often be viewed by the end customer as a trusted advisor or partner. Where doors are shut or phone calls not returned by sales folks, the technician or service team member has direct access. This accessibility should not be abused. Technicians, as noted in TSC’s Field Service 2016: The Technician’s Perspective, enjoy solving customer problems and the interaction afforded by their jobs. This rapport should be leveraged by sales and marketing to connect the customer to the right products and services for the future. Insights gleaned from service interactions should not be viewed as erroneous technician chatter, but as nuggets of insight from the customer’s mouth. The sales and marketing teams need to work with the front-line service team to gather better insights into customer needs and future opportunities. Techs shouldn’t necessarily be sales reps, but instead an extension of the sales and marketing team to ensure not only resolution of the issue at hand but also a partner is built for life.
Help Us Remove the Divide Between Service, Sales, and Marketing
In a couple of months, we will launch our first benchmark dedicated to sales & marketing and its impact on service (agenda below). If you have a sales or marketing title, we want to get you involved. If you have a major focus on working with service leadership to identify new service products, we want to get you involved. If you take the lead on getting products to market, we want to hear from you. If you instead would like to refer the right person, please also send us a note. The collaboration between sales, marketing, and service will be interesting to follow in 2017, I hope you will join the conversation. Don’t miss out.