Service and Sales in 2017 – the customer at the center.

Remember when customer service was viewed as a cost item? It’s certainly never been given a seat at the revenue table or considered a growth – not significantly, anyhow. Well, until now.

Your customer service team doesn’t just solve problems anymore. If you still think of service as an irate customer dialing a hotline, and being soothed by a representative trained to read from a data sheet, you should know that the depth and goals of customer service have grown way beyond that.

Here’s what advanced customer service looks like now: a prime channel for fostering 1:1 conversations and a doorway to new opportunities. Instead of focusing on resolving temporary complaints or requests, this department aims to develop a connection that deepens the customer relationship. And one tool they use to do that are the valuable insights harvested by your CRM (like Salesforce).

Another important aspect: making customer service an organization-wide initiative. Customer-centric devotion isn’t just for public-facing employees, as Salesforce lays out in this great infographic:

75 percent of customers have spent more because of positive interactions.

Service isn’t just obligatory – it’s a living, breathing, reliable benefit. Being pleasant and positive when greeting customers isn’t enough. Creating a good customer experience, where your buyers feel heard and appreciated, really does encourage them to buy again, buy more, and maintain a relationship with your company. Service takes what could be a one-time transaction and transforms it into an ongoing relationship – when the service is good, that is.

81 percent say negative things about you after they call….

Yikes. But let’s be honest – we all know customer service teams don’t always do right by their customers. I know I’ve hung up the phone and muttered a few choice words after failing to get the answers and assistance I needed. And a few times I’ve been dissatisfied enough to tell someone bluntly, I wouldn’t buy from that company. Stay away.

A broken promise, a disappointing product, sloppy service, a disdainful attitude: any of these can not only rupture customer loyalty, but spark a spreading wave of negativity toward the brand.

…. And 82 percent say companies could have done more to prevent them from switching brands.

Think about this one for a moment. The customers are saying that. And most of them aren’t even trained in the many marketing and sales techniques smart teams use to deepen customer loyalty. But they still walked away feel neglected, and thinking about what companies could have done to win their loyalty and future sales. Think about all the ways you know to create brand affinity and make sure you’re investing in the right ones.

More negative news: 62 percent have had to contact a company multiple times to resolve an issue. And 56% have had to explain their issue more than once.

This might strike you as the fault of inept customer service reps. No doubt, that’s probably the case in many instances. But it’s also clear that CRM data plays a role here. What kind of interaction would customers have if they spoke to a rep who had access to their past purchases, their preferences, their needs? Probably a whole lot of explanations would vanish, because there would be a stronger understanding of what the customer needs and why it matters to them.

You might still be wondering what role the sales team plays in this. Well, here are a few reasons that connecting the customer service and sales departments matters.

70 percent of leaders said having a single view of customers led to cost savings.

85 percent said the lack of a single view led to business problems – and 18 percent said they were missing out on vital cross-selling and up-selling opportunities as a result.

In our world, we’re always talking about unity and alignment. Linking sales and customer service is good for both departments, because they build the positive affinity that drives revenue. It’s just another argument for giving your people the tools they need to succeed with the aim of giving your customers a great experience.