Divide and conquer: 4 tips for working with clients in the service business
Maria Zubareva, head of Ingate’s customer service Department, shares her professional experience and gives advice on how to improve the process of interacting with clients in the service delivery sector: why it is important to hire a separate specialist to collect debts, who to assign additional sales and how not to get bogged down in routine operations
It happens that the client worked with you for many years, became a friend and brother, and then turned around and went to competitors. And then another, and another. In this situation, it is logical to check the entire business process, starting with the quality of the service provided-and ending with communications. But what to do when you have a great product and team, but customers still leave?
Our company works in the digital sphere: we are engaged in search engine promotion, SMM and performance marketing. Income from regular customers is a significant source of profit, so we monitor the number of departures. When the percentage of departures exceeded critical indicators for our business model last year, we started looking for errors in the customer service.
The problem lay in inefficient work. Accounts were so busy with routine operations that they did not have time to consult clients. The solution was the division of roles, which allowed not only to overcome the crisis, but also to increase sales by 5 times. We tell you how companies can quickly and independently improve the efficiency of customer service.
Select the collection of accounts receivable function as a separate function
In the service business, customer service employees are multi-armed shivs. They solve customer problems, collect accounts receivable, and sell them along the way. This is a mistake. We also prepared special forces from our accounts until we realized that it was expensive and pointless. The account Manager must do one thing-keep customers.
Release the account from the “accounts receivable”, create a position for this work as a specialist in accounts receivable (account receivable manager, A/R manager). If your business, like ours, operates on an advance plan, without prepayment, work on the project stops. The task of the accounts receivable specialist is to duplicate the invoices if necessary, draw the client’s attention to any changes, and return them to the agreements on payment terms and amounts.
Do not transfer current accounts to this position — most likely, they will get bored. People who are used to looking for errors in accounts and checking reconciliation acts will do better: former document specialists, Bank employees, and collectors. Experimentally, we found that the accounts receivable specialist is effective in an Alliance with a working group of 6-7 accounts.
As a result, they killed two birds with one stone: they reduced the cost of collecting “debtors” and unloaded account managers. Previously, 1,000 rubles of collected debt cost us 12 rubles, now it is three times less. In addition, accounts that were exempt from collection work received an additional eight hours per month to solve the client’s pressing problems.
Conclusion. Free your account from the task of collecting accounts receivable. Let a specialist with experience of such work do this.
Create a specialist position that provides additional sales
Despite the large customer base, the specialists did not fulfill the plan for secondary sales in the low cost segment. Projects with a small check are run by newcomers. Keeping the attention of customers, they did not have time to sell, and if they found the time — they did not always cope. Then we released them from this role and transferred sales to experienced employees.
Assign secondary sales to a specialist with the right skills. We call it Business Development Manager (BDM), but you can call it something else. BDM is a hybrid of an account and a sales account. BDM sells, prepares commercial offers and enters into contracts-thus removing routine operations from accounts. Like A / R manager, one additional sales specialist is attached to a working group of 6-7 accounts. BDM should be perfectly versed in the range of services, so it is easier to grow it from competent accounts. Find a specialist with the ability to sell and strengthen their Department. The key skill of such an employee is fearlessness. This compares favorably with an account that always keeps customer loyalty in mind.
Let’s present a problem project. The client is dissatisfied with the results and makes claims to the account. In this situation, the account is afraid to offer new services or increase the budget. But BDM knows that the best retention is extra sales. Without changes in the composition, set of services, with the old introductory project problem can not be solved. Accordingly, the expansion/change in the composition of services increases the “stickiness” to the company and positively affects the churn rate (customer churn rate).
Thanks to this solution, we have increased additional sales by more than five times. This is due to the fact that one account in the contract Bank had 4-5 projects, while BDM works with 15-20 projects from the database of one account. In total, the same time is spent on secondary sales as before, but now it is the working hours of one specialist. This freed up 17 hours per month for accounts to handle complex situations.
Conclusion. Assign secondary sales to a professional account that likes and knows how to sell.
Automate routine operations
The account has a lot of routine. He writes reports, goes to the accounting Department for bills, or asks questions to technical specialists. Even consultations are formulaic: a new client almost always asks the same type of questions. All this reduces the speed of operations and takes time.
Save your account from paperwork and repetitive transactions. Let the reports be compiled by the production service, the accounts are issued by the accounts receivable specialist, and everything that can be done will be automated.
We have created a personal account on the site. The client gets access to it on the first day of work. In the personal account, the client sees the results of the project online, for example, the indicators of the advertising campaign. They also exchange accounting documents, complain, and ask questions. If the customer calls the account directly, it means that something emergency has happened, and the feedback format is not enough. Verbal communication is minimized.
Invite the entire project team to your personal account: an account Manager, a specialist in “accounts receivable”, and production staff (for example, an SEO specialist). If the client suddenly has something “broken”, the account will not have to quickly look for the culprits. The right specialist will respond to the client in the personal account. Make a FAQ (a list of the most popular questions) – save the employee and the client half an hour a day.
Conclusion. Find your own way to automate operations. According to our research, routine actions take up to 60 % of an employee’s time. Release your account and its performance will increase by 1.5 times.