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Guest Blogger

By Daniel Bailey, VP Enterprise Business EMEA, Zendesk

It’s like a big game of pass the parcel – or at least it should be. As customers progress through the sales and service funnel, no matter how complex, their information and context details should move between teams, departments and agents. That’s not just hypothetical best practice advice, it’s now something that customers increasingly expect. And although this approach isn’t as widespread as it should be, the tools are available to make it easier to make it a reality.

On the whole, customers who interact with sales or service functions don’t know what the behind-the-scenes picture is. They don’t know how big the teams are, they don’t know how the teams are structured, and they don’t know the apps and tools that the company uses. In truth, they don’t need to know. However, there’s one thing they do have clarity about and it’s that companies should improve the way they communicate with them. And that includes having a joined-up approach to dealing with their information.

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, half of customers will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. That number shoots up to 80% if they have multiple bad experiences. Customer expectations are on the rise as businesses look to get the infrastructures in place to meet the needs of these customers who demand more than ever.

One of the things that frustrates customers is when the interactions they have with brands are disjointed or include repetition of the same steps they’ve already been through. Also, although customers have access to more ways for getting in touch with a business, they want the conversations to flow seamlessly across the platforms. They want access to companies at the places that are most convenient to them – the places where they are right now.

Everything in its place

That’s the goal and fortunately, it’s an achievable one. It does, however, require an appreciation of where internal interaction and collaboration is heading to make it work. Our research on customer experience trends found that customer service teams collaborate more with sales teams than any other internal organisation. Both teams can benefit from insights held by the other, but often there’s a tendency to operate independently from a data and tools perspective. In many cases, this disjointedness isn’t a deliberate move, but it’s forced upon them by systems that aren’t designed to interact well with each other.

As sales leaders expect both revenue growth and team growth, companies need to put data to work across teams, using shared tools to engage with customers from the initial sale throughout their experience with a product or service. When that happens, the parcel is passed smoothly between all stakeholders in a way that the customers appreciate. They notice when teams play nicely with each other because from their perspective it feels like one big team – and everyone’s talking to each other.

Employees are customers too

The approach we take at Zendesk is to make sure that the right collaboration can happen with the right people in-house. This means customer-facing staff can communicate with customers with the right details at their fingertips. Central to this is having an open and connected platform that can bring together customer information from the various apps and touchpoints with the customer, which in turn makes it easier for teams to have access to a full customer view.

There are two things at play that we need to acknowledge. The UI for internal tools should be slick and helpful. Taking the shortcut and not paying enough attention to this has a knock-on effect that could affect the brand loyalty of customers. If an agent is overwhelmed by the complexity of their own systems, they are slowed down and become less productive. It’s vital that staff can help customers in the best way possible by creating solutions that work flawlessly and look great.

But there’s also the issue of the free flow of data. Whether it’s education, consideration to purchase, or addressing issues after a purchase, customers expect companies to collaborate internally and with partners on delivering a great experience. Even with the best intentions in the world, there must be the systems in place that have the capability of delivering that.

Happy sales and service staff create happy customers, it’s as simple as that. Sometimes there’s a temptation to cut out the important middle step of service agents and look to better serve end customers. But with an approach that puts the power in the hands of the agents, they have all the tools they need to turn chance shoppers into loyal customers.

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