GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

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GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. 

While products form the basis of a customer-vendor relationship, services are the foundation from which post-sales customer relationships are built and sustained.  Services are a natural extension to core product features and offer access to the expertise, skills, and resources that drive customer value.

By Steve Schneider – Co-Founder, WorkRails

Why selling services can be difficult

Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult?

The ability of Sales to sell services is often complicated by inadequate systems and manual processes that reduce the speed and accuracy of service discovery, configuration, and quoting. Inhibitors to service sales are often systemic and arise from programs that are disproportionately focused on selling strictly new products.

Services revenue is more important than ever, and companies must make concerted efforts to help their Sales teams sell services more efficiently.

10 ways to help Sales teams sell services

  1. Make Sales aware of available services.

Sales teams may not be familiar with the extent of services available to customers or recent modifications and enhancements to the catalog of available services. Actively promote the availability and value of services to Sales.

Develop a comprehensive catalog of service programs with up-to-date program descriptions and critical details. Make the service program catalog available digitally in a single, easy-to-find location like a CRM.  Keep Sales up-to-date about enhancements to the service catalog.

  1. Make it easy for Sales to align customer needs with available programs.

The existence of a service catalog does not mean that Sales will know how to align customer needs to available services. Help Sales recognize service opportunities and provide the tools to match needs to available services.

Provide Sales with digital customer journeys, use case examples, and service configuration guidance (configurators). Consider creating predefined service-outcome-based journeys that package multiple service programs to deliver specific customer outcomes, but also support custom SOWs.

  1. Justify service value.

Every service program and service bundle will have an associated price, even if it is discounted. Customers will want to understand the benefits of service offers for the price paid. Be prepared to help Sales justify service value. Establish guidance to suggest the tangible benefits customers can expect, including faster time to benefit; lower costs to implement and maintain; and the attainment of business performance objectives.

Provide Sales with cases studies and quantification tools to help justify the cost of services.

  1. Simplify service configuration.

Some service programs will provide standard deliverables and resources, other services must be customized to meet specific customer needs. Make it possible for Sales to customize and configure services to meet the specific scale and scope of customer needs. Integrate configuration tools with the ability to create customized service quotes.

Provide Sales with access to easy-to-use sales enablement and on-line configuration tools to capture required information needed to customize service quotes.

  1. Streamline proposal creation.

Creating a service proposal should not be complicated. To simplify service proposal creation, use configured services information to automatically build proposals with up-to-date program descriptions, terms, and conditions. Provide the means to pull information from existing systems and integrate customer-specific configuration inputs to create customized service proposals.

Provide Sales with the proposal-generating tools necessary to generate customer-ready documentation quickly and easily.

  1. Digitize pricing, discounting, and Sales policies.

Pricing should not be a mystery and Sales should not have to hunt for quotes. Provide a digital experience for Sales and Service team members to dynamically create quotes based on customer needs. Add pricing and sales policies to your services catalog and keep all data up to date and relevant in one central repository. Assure that pricing and sales policies are clearly delineated by regions.

Provide Sales with a digital platform to generate quotes on demand based on customer requirements.

  1. Automate approval workflows.

Take the guesswork out of pricing and discounting by establishing clear sales policies and approval guidelines. Automated, end-to-end service sales workflows and approvals assure that proposals are aligned with current sales policies.

Provide Sales with clearly defined sales policies related to pricing discount and approvals. Provide digitally enabled processes for creating and routing new proposals to the appropriate internal resources for approval—deal desks or executives— with the ability to capture customer approvals digitally.

  1. Seamless system integration

Selling services should not require extraordinary efforts by Sales. Disparate systems that require time and effort to keep up to date can increase the time to close new service deals and lead to errors and inaccuracies.  implify the service sales process by integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM),  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), and other back-end systems that enable service sales actions such as configuration, pricing, quoting, booking, and scheduling new services.

Remove the burden on Sales teams to update multiple disparate systems by providing seamless system integration across the end-to-end service sales process.

  1. Incent action.

Streamlining and simplifying the end-to-end service sales process will help Sales sell services, but it may not be enough. If you want Sales to take an interest and commit time and efforts to selling services recognize and incent action. Structure compensation, goals and KPIs to properly align products and services.

Incent Sales to sell the right services to the right customers and adhere to established service sales policies and guidelines.

  1. Measure and improve.

Monitor the effectiveness of service sales actions to identify which service programs are most often purchased and w messaging and sales resources are most useful for closing service deals. Evaluate the effectiveness of selling platforms and processes to further streamline the service sales process.

Continually monitor service sales performance and engage with Sales teams to assure that service offers are aligned with current customer needs; sales resources are effective; and that systems and processes are streamlined.

Help your Sales team sell services.

Services and the means to sell them are imperative. With the right resources Sales can quickly and accurately discover, understand, configure, price, and quote services. Effective service sales capabilities create opportunities for recurring revenue retention and growth. Help your Sales team sell services by providing the information, systems, and processes they need.

Service sales can be complex and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

About WorkRails

WorkRails has reinvented how software companies sell services to their customers.  With over $700 billion a year spent on technology services, we were shocked to see the most advanced companies relying on old documents, spreadsheets and predominantly manual processes to drive such an important part of their business.

Through automation, WorkRails makes selling services easy, fast and more accurate for our clients, saving them time and money.  Our SaaS solution powers an e-commerce experience for services employees, clients and partners that increases adoption and reduces errors.  Our clients include some of the top software companies in the world.

Learn More about WorkRails at https://www.workrails.com/

 

GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

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GUEST POST: Service Outsourcing Should Be at the Top of Your 2021 To-Do List

Today’s customer service leaders are under enormous pressure to deliver high quality service to more customers across a growing number of channels with budgets that are not matching the pace of interaction growth. Facing these constraints, some may find themselves purposely hindering the customer experience (turning off channels, reducing hours of service, or increasing acceptable response time windows) instead of considering an entirely different approach to their costs. Read about why you should really be considering outsourcing right now.

By Amanda Quinn, SVP Finance & Marketing, ArenaCX

Picture this: The new smart watch you ordered online has finally arrived. You successfully turn it on and get it syncing with your phone. For the first week or two everything is going great – you’re loving the health insights, being able to respond to messages on the go, and finding out the weather with a flick of your wrist. 

But then, all of the sudden, your watch stops receiving text messages. You go to the manufacturer’s website and call their support line. The estimated hold is currently 95 minutes. “That’s crazy,” you think.

So you go try to self-serve by visiting the company’s help center to look for articles that might explain what’s going on. You follow the directions to troubleshoot (turn the watch off and back on, turn your phone off and on, unpair your watch from the phone) with no luck. You even call your nephew to see if he knows any tricks you don’t.

Now what? Do you call the manufacturer back and just resign yourself to the long wait? Do you email the general support address and hope you get a timely response?

Let’s paint a new picture of service.

Imagine the original scenario, but this time when you go to the manufacturer’s website you see the option to start a chat and the estimated wait time is less than 2 minutes. The agent asks you a few basic security questions, listens to the issue you’re experiencing and offers you a few easy-to-follow troubleshooting tips. Before you know it, your smart watch is back up and running and you can get back to your life.

Now, what if I told you the person you were just chatting with is actually an outsourced customer service representative based in Honduras. Would you be surprised that you could get “good” support from an overseas agent? Most people would be.

Unfortunately, customer service outsourcing has a lingering bad reputation from a time when offshore centers were notorious for treating their customer service agents with little respect. When you hear “offshore call center,” sadly, you probably still picture poorly vetted sweatshop environments with underpaid, mistreated, and miserable workers. While I’d be remiss to say that those types of outsourcing centers have become completely extinct, I can gladly say that that awful scenario is becoming less and less frequent as the number of well-managed contact centers consistently rises. 

Think about outsourced service in a new light.

Over the past few years, the outsourcing industry has made considerable improvements so it’s time to start thinking about outsourcing in a new light. Now there is a plethora of well-managed contact centers with excellent performance records, high ethical standards, sophisticated technology, and a deep appreciation for the modern customer experience.

Today’s modern contact centers are well-prepared to handle the day-to-day operations of assisting the customer at multiple touches and through multiple channels. They also strive to meet the financial, culture, social responsibility, data security, and regulatory compliance requirements of the companies they are representing.

This can be accomplished by a demonstrable shift in the way CSRs are managed: They can now expect fair wages, respect from their employer, and opportunities for career growth and success. As a result, these happier CSRs have a more positive outlook on their work, which reflects in how they treat the customers they’re serving.

This has been widely recognized in the industry, and more and more outsourcing centers are doing what it takes to do right by their employees and by their client’s customers. After all, Happy Customer Service Representatives = Happy Customers = Higher Customer Satisfaction Scores

Ranging from small boutiques to publicly traded companies, contact centers are now present in every geography, helping fill language and time zone gaps for internal teams. Brands can partner with firms that are local (US-based), nearshore (Latin America and the Caribbean), offshore, or even an open-talent firm. 

Better yet, a combination of partnerships is often the best bet, allowing brands to tap into a disparate set of skills and strengths for different aspects of their business. This enables the brand to save money on support costs while maintaining the level of support their customers expect and deserve.

In short, service outsourcing no longer requires a tradeoff of quality for cost.

For those still hesitant to trust these improvements, take comfort knowing that industry watchdogs, news outlets, and social media platforms won’t hesitate to spread the word about bad actors in the outsourcing space. A bit of vetting and getting customer testimonials will help you find the partners who fit with your business.

It’s important to outsource with integrity. 

This obviously includes choosing a reputable partner who treats their employees responsibly and respectfully, but it also means that once you’ve chosen your partner(s), it’s imperative that you treat them as such: trusted partners. You and your outsourcing partners must understand that you are mutually responsible for business outcomes and must manage the relationship collaboratively. Your partners can become huge assets in your quest to deliver high quality support with a constrained budget. 

We view the traditional headcount-based model of engaging with a contact center as an impediment to creating the true spirit of partnership most brands desire. Instead of contracting on a per-agent basis, we recommend engaging your partners on a per-interaction model where they earn more of your business the better they do. We believe aligning incentives for your company and your partners is key to long-term successful partnership.

In short, if you feel your customer service operations are not 100% able to meet your customer needs (channel, hours, languages, etc.) within your budget, you should really consider outsourcing. 

About ArenaCX

ArenaCX is the world’s first marketplace where contact centers compete to better serve your customers. We make it easy to find and trial new contact center partners. If you’re interested in learning more about outsourcing or how ArenaCX can help match you with vetted, ready-to-onboard partners visit ArenaCX.

Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

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Best Practices and Metrics for Assisted Support Delivery

Making it easy for customers to get help depends upon the channels available to access support resources and request assistance. Many companies offer assistance by phone but there is a clear shift towards electronic channels.

Assisted Support

The time, effort, and costs required to provide assisted support make it imperative for companies to find ways to expedite issue resolution and bolster efforts to prevent issues.

Companies offer a variety of channels for customers to request assisted support. These include interactive channels like chat and phone, and passive methods such as e-mail, Support communities, and web case submission. Customers have embraced electronic channels and are relying less on assistance by phone.

Key Trends

  • 83.1% of companies offer both phone and electronic channels for support. Only 14.9% offer electronic-only support contact methods.
  • Support case submission by web-based form is the top channel used, followed by phone and e-mail.
  • Phone support use has declined by 8% as electronic channel use grows.
  • The use of chat has grown by 26% while use of e-mail has risen by 24%.
  • The reasons customers request support assistance are equally distributed across three primary categories of “How To,” “Bugs or Performance Issues,” and “Installation, Configuration, Setup.”
  • Most support interactions are reactive, although proactive engagement is on the rise.

Best Practices

From case open to closure, case management and resolution processes must be efficient and effective.

  • Apply structured data collection to assure that submitted cases are complete.
  • Encourage adoption of web-based case submission.
  • Apply intelligent automation to triage and routing of new cases.
  • Deflect as cases are created.
  • Collaborate.
  • Leverage case closure automation.
  • Completely document closed cases.
  • Trigger knowledge process upon case closure.

Key Metrics

It is important to track how your customers engage your Support organization as well as the types of issues they need help with. Consider using the following metrics and measures:

  • Cases by Channel
  • Assisted Issue by Types
  • Support Access Point

What more insights about assisted support best practices and metrics?

For insights about how support is changing and the opportunities and imperative for 2021 please review ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics.  This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives.

Download your copy now

Make a Plan to Optimize Assisted Support

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies optimize support performance and apply best practices.

Let’s make a plan to optimize support.

Contact ServiceXRG by chat or e-mail now or click on my calendar to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs.

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

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The 2 Keys to Preventing Support Issues

Our research has revealed that nearly a third (32%) of Support demand stems from questions related to either installation, configuration, or setup. This understanding gives companies an immense opportunity to reduce this demand—and we see two major keys to preventing Support issues on an ongoing basis.

Preventing Support issues starts with customer knowledge.

The more that your customers know, the more capable they are with your product, the less they will require Support. Therefore, we see the two keys to Support issue prevention as Onboarding and Training. It then follows that effective customer onboarding and training will require planning and action on the part of your organization.

The opportunity for greater Support issue prevention is very real: Currently, fewer than a third (28%) of companies have proactive engagement efforts in place to help prevent Support issues. What’s working for them?

Key #1: Onboarding

Proactive Support includes formal efforts to onboard customers with planning resources, as well as guidance and expert resources to assist with installation and configuration. Proactive Support is also triggered by remote monitoring, alerting, and product “call-home” features.

Formal onboarding allows companies to proactively engage customers before they need assisted support. Onboarding practices and resources may consist of digitally available “getting started” checklists, best practice guides, or self-paced training (“tech touch”). Onboarding may also include formalized planning, account management, and coaching with onboarding experts (“high touch”).

Key #2: Training

“How to” questions are another significant source of Support issues. Companies can head off such questions with formal efforts to help customers develop proficiency with their products. These efforts can include (but aren’t limited to) training, knowledge transfer, best practice guides, and coaching.

Be proactive, be early when it comes to preventing Support issues.

Companies that can help customers with formal onboarding and training programs in the early stages of new product adoption are best positioned to mitigate Support demand because:

  • They better equip customers to use the product(s) (and get maximum value) from the start.
  • They connect customers to the resources they need to resolve issues themselves.

Not only do proactive, early onboarding and training prevent more Support issues, they also contribute to Customer Success and increased customer lifetime value.

What more insights about onboarding and practice customer engagement practices? Download the research.

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics.  This report examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make a plan to get proactive

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance.

Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Take These 5 Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

Take These 5 Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

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Take These 5 Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

The future success of your Customer Support organization relies on your ability to scale Support delivery. By taking these five actions, you can effectively scale Support delivery to not only meet the expected demand growth, but also fulfill an expanded, Success-focused mission.

When you can scale Support delivery, your team can add more value.

I recently blogged about my POV regarding Support demand in 2021 and beyond (spoiler alert: Support demand will increase). While increased demand presents an opportunity for Support to take on more high-value customer engagement activities, it first requires increases investment in diversified, targeted actions that will enable Support delivery at scale. Focus on these five action areas that have been proven to drive results.

  1. Prevention – Support must take the lead in identifying the root causes of support demand and aggressively advocate for mitigation of these circumstances. Support must work with Engineering groups to improve product performance and usability issues and work across the company to promote effective customer onboarding and skills development activities.
  2. Self-Help – Support teams represent a repository of product expertise and must work to make their knowledge available to customers. Many new support cases can be avoided if customers are able to access the knowledge and expertise of Support. Transferring knowledge to customers to help them become more self-sufficient should be high on the list of strategic imperatives for all Support organizations. Read more about self-help and Knowledge management.
  3. Proficiency – Companies need to look beyond just helping customers help themselves and consider how they can build customers expertise so they can use and apply products more competently. Proficiency will require companies to move beyond a reliance on self-help-focused strategies and invest in building the foundational technical and business skills customers need to apply products successfully.  For a great example of building customer proficiency, read our article about Salesforce Trailhead.
  4. Automation – Support has always been a labor-intensive function that relies on the skills of product experts. Support cannot scale based solely on human power. Read 6 Ways to Apply AI to Technical Support.
  5. Augmentation – The ability to rapidly adjust staffing levels is difficult but may be a business imperative in situations such as high growth, seasonality, fluctuating demand, or in response to an unexpected shock. Maintaining redundant sources of capacity and leveraging trusted providers of on-demand expertise to augment your team provides a viable way to scale support.

Want to better understand Support demand trends? Download our research.

Are you ready for the challenges your Support organization will face in the year ahead?  Are you ready to capitalize on new opportunities?  How will you scale and transform Support?

For insights about how Support is changing and the opportunities and imperatives for 2021, download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make your plan to meet the Support demand in your organization—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

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Poor Support Case Management Practices = Missed Opportunities

The time and effort to capture what is learned during the Support case management and resolution may seem untenable and an added cost that Support cannot afford. But the missed opportunities and long-term costs are far higher when insights from customer interactions are not fully documented and analyzed.

Support case management missed opportunity #1: incomplete case records

According to ServiceXRG’s new study on Support Practices and Metrics more than 90% of the time and effort spent on Support case management and resolution goes into issue determination and formulation of a response to the customer. As a result, this leaves little time for some of the most important actions necessary to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Support: advancing product quality and innovation and retaining and expanding customer relationships.

The study further finds that only two-thirds (67%) of companies formally document the circumstances of each case in their ticket management system. Even then, their compliance to completely fill in Support case record details is lower than 50%.

These incomplete Support case records diminish Support’s ability to identify root causes of support demand and plan mitigation efforts such as enhanced self-help, product improvements, and training.

Support case management missed opportunity #2: knowledge base neglect

Only 42%, of companies indicate that a knowledge base article is updated or created when a case is closed according to ServiceXRG’s research. The fact that a case was submitted by a customer indicates that there may be a need for information to possibly prevent future support cases from being submitted or help expedite resolution of a case by sharing knowledge among Support team members.

Turn around your missed opportunities with these Support case management best practices:

Apply structured data collection to assure that submitted cases are complete.

Leverage processes and tools to assure that new cases submitted include all information required to begin meaningful issue diagnosis and resolution. Use structured data collection tools such as web-based forms and conversational chatbots. Discourage use of unstructured case submission channels such as e-mail.

Encourage adoption of web-based case submission.

Electronic submission of new cases using structured web-based form is more conducive to automation. Create opportunities for customers to submit support cases through web forms and incent customer adoption of this channel by providing enhanced service levels or other incentives.

Completely document closed cases.

When cases are closed, assure that relevant data attributes and circumstances of the case have been captured.

What more insights about Support case management practice and metrics?

For insights about how support is changing—plus the most urgent opportunities and imperatives—download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make your plan to optimize Support case management—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

Fresh, authoritative, actionable insights for Support leaders

Exclusive Research Report:

Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics

Download the ServiceXRG Support Transformation 2021 research report

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