The Salesforce ecosystem is a very competitive environment with a low barrier of entry that allows a huge number of consultants and integrators to sign up. And while nearly anyone can implement Salesforce, that doesn’t mean they understand how to deal with customers after the sale. Salesforce itself is very focused on the prospect throughout the sales cycle, rather than the customer once the sale is complete. As a result, most Salesforce integrators or consultants stop at the back office. This is a big mistake that will leave your customers wanting more.

Is it support or service? Reactive or proactive?

Many people use the terms “customer support” and “customer service” interchangeably—but they’re not the same. Customer support after the sale is focused on being able to respond to trouble tickets and answer questions via chatbot, email, etc. It is, by its very nature, reactive. Unfortunately, this is the only experience a lot of companies are providing. Customer service, on the other hand, encompasses all those reactive activities, plus proactive, back-office functions like order tracking, invoicing, and billing–thus anticipating what the customer is going to need next.

That proactive function, accessed through a customer community , can also serve as a knowledge repository that includes answers to FAQs. Good customer service anticipates what customers are going to need and gathers that information and shares it proactively in an easy, intuitive manner. Most customers today are looking for a meaningful online experience: they don’t want to talk to you. They want to take control of information related to their purchase and easily access it in a 360-degree view.

Does the difference between customer support and customer service make any difference?

Organizations must start thinking from a customer service perspective. Customer support only supports a small percentage of what the business needs to provide; the rest lies in the customer service they offer. Customer service delivers the back-office side of the business (financing or fulfillment related)—something that customer support, with its focus on the front office, simply doesn’t deliver. How to interact with customers is, sadly, often an afterthought. Once prospects become customers, many organizations feel their work is done, and they can move on, but that’s not the case, if you want happy customers after the buying cycle is complete.

What does customer service provide beyond customer support?

  • Outstanding customer service gives your customer a better end-to-end experience
  • Customer service turns buyers into loyal customers
  • Great customer service improves your brand reputation

Leveraging a customer community to advance from simple customer support to customer service

Not only does a portal make customers happier, but it allows you to have a nurturing relationship with customers and to create a loop-back system and remarket to your customers by:

  • informing customers of special upcoming promotions
  • assigning a customer success manager
  • monitoring the volume of technical support calls
  • reminding customers when they’re 90 days out from renewal

You may still have phone and chatbot interactions; but now, with the portal, you have proactive interactions as well: tracking, a new level of proactive interaction, FAQs, and more. The benefits to you and your customers include both faster responses and higher customer satisfaction—not to mention, less infrastructure and lower infrastructure cost (for example, people on the phones).

Getting it done

After the sale, you’ll need to decide several things: how will customers be able to log a support case? how will you be able to predict, and proactively provide remedies for customer issues? how will you create a portal (full experience) which could be managed by your customer?

But the most important question you need to answer will be: are you committed to giving your customers the best experience possible, or do you think your work is done once the deal is closed? It’s important to understand that how you answer this question will ultimately shape your customers’ view of your company and their experience in dealing with you. 

Steve Baines