In a small company with a couple of clients, everyone knows about everything that’s going on. Once the company grows, the more clients it has, the more people are involved in the customer service process. The information gap between employees is ever growing as well, so two outcomes seem to be possible here: your employees will spend a lot of time to be up-to-date (and will often hear “I don’t know, ask X”), or they will simply stay uninformed. Data circulation is crucial.
A few weeks ago I was thinking about recommendations about one of our Client’s service funnel in their CRM. As each service is a little different, it was very hard to point out specific rules of thumb which will be effective for every company in every industry. That’s why I decided to ask some fast-growing companies about good practices which they use on daily basis.
Detailed understanding of the client service process is key. The structure of this process in CRM (or any other tool which you use for clients service management) is a reflection of what needs to happen to make customers happy.
I hope this blogpost helps you find tips which will point you in the right direction. Let’s get started.
It’s generally a good idea to keep your sales and service pipelines separate. You can of course keep them both in the same software but remember that quite often a lead’s journey through sales process is a lot different than a client’s journey through service process. Think of your service stages or client’s milestones that you’d like to keep track of – this funnel should reflect those and help your team be better oriented of what’s next to offer or do. Digging deeper, each deal should help ensure better relationships with clients – take advantage of your CRM’s functionalities, task reminders, calendar and preferrable smart integrations with other tools.
Great sales should be followed by even greater implementation. If you don’t want to spoil the contract, remember about transferring all the data from sales to your service funnel. Make sure that production team has a full description of what has been ordered, and what quality is expected.
Don’t worry about Service Level Agreements, the more detailed description you get, the better. It’s good to add a verification stage at this point. Don’t be afraid of double checking, a mistake at this stage will cost you a fortune at the end of the process. Furthermore, make sure your Client knows who is responsible for their contract, especially if it is not the same person as before. Automate all predictable and easy information, and make all demanding and unpredictable information personal. If you fail, remember that you can prove your business value in hard times. Good luck!
When you are building a funnel structure in your CRM platform, you have to consider that every part of the funnel has its own business purpose. There is no ready-made and one hundred percent effective template. The funnel should fit your business model, branch or communication type. Although there is no instant recipe for success, you can refine it by your own, thanks to testing and optimizing every process.
Another important thing is to use the right software which allows you to create almost every automation process that you can imagine. At CallPage, we have built our service funnels in HubSpot CRM platform. It contains marketing, sales and retention stages. Every contact from online sources is acquired by the Inbound Marketing department and it goes directly to marketing stage, where we are evaluating contact with some variables and set its status for MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) and SQL (Sales Qualified Lead). The former is not ready to be contacted by our sales department, so we include it in our marketing processes and work on that contact to heat it. SQLs are the sales-ready users, who go through the Sales stage of our funnel.
Next stage is pretty simple, when SQL becomes our client, it’s automatically included to our Retention funnel, where we take care of the user with some nurturing programmes, product education and upselling.
Before speaking about after-sales activities, first we need to define when a sale is finished. It can be the moment of signing a contract, when we issue invoices, or the implementation of arrangements. From that moment on, our actions should be focused on strengthening the customer’s belief that he or she made the right choice. If we are able to deliver something faster or better than expected – we should. It will pay off. The customer will not only be satisfied with their choice, but may also be willing to recommend us and order additional services. The next actions are more like a cycle than a funnel. They have intervals rather than stages. Periodically, we should contact the client, maintain our relationship, verify the possibilities of up-selling, and in the case of continuous services – examine the level of satisfaction and willingness to recommend.
After the last stage of Sales Funnel, when a potential client becomes our customer (depending on how big they are and what is the scope of our cooperation), we can specify these stages:
While creating your customer service funnel, you need to map the crucial stages of your potential client’s lifecycle. Probably the first stage will be right after signing the deal. Find milestones which need to be accomplished during successful onboarding – creating a different stage for each milestone will help you in creating the best possible way to onboard your clients.
Thanks to that, you will be able to measure how long each stage, and the onboarding itself, last. Keep in mind that a successful and quick onboarding equals successful client who is aware how to use your product to gain maximum value. Just focus on true milestones so you won’t create too many stages 🙂 After your client is mature and aware of your product, it’s a good time to map the next stage and find the best time (milestone!) in your client’s lifecycle, which is an ideal trigger for renewing the contract or upselling. Your main focus should be to help your clients reach those stages with success, it will maximize your sales potential.
For me, service funnel is a reflection of the stages of cooperation with clients as a result of analysis of the client’s and organization’s needs. This funnel and its function is a component of two most important factors – position and dynamics. Position is nothing else than the place/ stage in which our cooperation with a client is located, e.g. onboarding or negotiations. I recommend to map this stages using customer journey mapping workshops.
Regarding dynamics, my experience is that each stage is characterized by its specificity, what is more, it is not always high dynamics that is preferred. Now thinking about these dimensions, KPI’s for the service funnel should talk about, for example, the number of customers in specific segments and at certain stages or the flow time between the stages.
Once we close a contract and Account Manager establishes a great relationship with the client on the pre-sales activities, our post-sales activities are much easier to do. I cannot stress enough how important pre-sales activities are in order to have a smooth service after closing the contract.
I could split the post-sales activities into couple main things:
Closing a deal isn’t a matter of putting your leads into the “Won” stage. What you really want is keeping them there. This is where client service (or customer success) comes into play. Unlike sales, client service support shouldn’t have a “Won” stage. That is for deals, while you’re interested in keeping the clients active.
If you want to retain your clients, you need to provide a top-notch service. So design your CRM records with client support in mind: store all data which might be useful in resolving cases, i.e. purchase history and any technical data you have on a client.
You also want to make sure that clients are getting the most out of your services. For example, in SaaS, you should be analyzing your client’s activity. Sync analytical data with your CRM system to create alerts for when a client’s activity goes down for a long time (you might be losing that client). Or if you see that clients don’t use a certain feature, maybe you need to reach out and explain how it can be useful to them.
You’re releasing new products or features which might be interesting to a certain subset of your clients. Again, define those interests in the CRM to send targeted email updates. This will show that you’re improving and developing your service, asserting trust in it. Or if you’re releasing a complementary product, your faithful clients will be an easy sell or upsell.
Service funnel should be appropriate to your product and delivery process. It should support the Delivery Manager’s job, not overwhelm him but bring its intended value – information about the customer status and what it actually means for us.
Easy to say, hard to do. At TestArmy, we were experimenting with the service funnel strategy for more than a year, testing a few approaches. Finally, we shifted to a very detailed one, having 3 major stages (post-sales, execution and closure), and each of them has 4-5 different steps.
The goal of post-sales stages is to synchronise sales with delivery, it consists of the briefing collection and review, optional scope redefinition meeting (if needed) and handover to the PM. This is the time when the responsibility is being transferred from Sales to PM.
The most important step of the execution phase is the introduction – usually in a form of a kick-off call with the client. During this meeting, we once again confirm the scope, accesses, communication channels, form of reporting and introduce the team. Behind the scenes, the PM is working hard on project preparation. Then comes the delivery.
After the delivery, we start the closure phase, initiated with gathering metrics and deliverables. Then we organize a summary meeting with the client. If everything is once again confirmed, the invoice is prepared and sent to the customer. The last step is the retrospective meeting with the team. It is very important to exchange and save the knowledge we learned. The customer is put on a “contact next quarter” list.
Right now, we serve 350,000 customers in 183 countries, in seven languages by chat and email, handling over 1500 interactions a day. Our 50 Customer Success Advisors are based in two locations, providing their support 24/7. Since we believe that each interaction with a customer is different, we don’t use scripts, and our CRM system is simple.
In our experience, division by language and expertise area is all we need. If an inquiry goes to the right place the first time, our customers will get a response quickly.
But a CRM platform is not the key here. It’s only a tool that helps us funnel the inquiries. The key is the people we hire. They’re not only smart, intelligent, multilingual or fast learners, but most of all they have a passion for what they do. They’re eager to jump in and help or guide our customers towards their success because we believe that their success is our success.
Each service and each industry differ, so the application of the lessons described above will surely be different as well. If you want to keep your customers happy, you should consider these tips as a checklist. Delivering good service is one thing, but keeping tabs on relevant data and making sure that your customers are happy is another. Especially when your company grows quickly or everything changes. If you would like to discuss anything further, feel free to shoot me a message at email@example.com.
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