Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, is widely considered to be the bible of new style sales. Written by expert sales people (Ross took Salesforce to $100 million in sales with his method. Tyler is his protege and now CEO of Predictable Revenue, Inc.), there is no doubt that it wasn't meant as a customer service resource. Despite that, many of the best ideas for sales and marketing teams in Predictable Revenue are also great ideas for customer service teams. In fact, many of them center around providing a better customer experience, being more customer focused, and ensuring that the customer is put first in the process.
Sound familiar? That's because all three of those things are pillars of great customer service. We've written before (also here) about how service and sales are getting more and more similar. Predictable Revenue underlines this with it's basic message: pushy, aggressive, non-customer focused selling is dead.
Having been a part of over one hundred customer development conversations, it struck me that my main takeaway (how to get more people aware of your product, keep them happy, and show them how it works for them specifically--with data to show for everything) is exactly what we routinely hear from customer service leads as pain points. In fact, Predictable Revenue covers four areas that, for me, make it a customer service resource. If, perhaps, an atypical one.
Four customer service issues that that Predictable Revenue addresses:
The need to create a revenue driven business case for customer service:
The single most common issue we hear from customer service leads, especially at explosively high growth companies, is that they need to present a compelling data driven business case before a solution can be implemented. Valid, to be sure. The irony is that, in many cases, it takes time for proof of concept to be achieved, especially where customer behavior and adoption are concerned (so, commonly with customer service).
Aaron Ross goes into detail about how he developed his initial plan using outside data and then championed it within Salesforce. He was ultimately allowed to implement it on his own and see if he could drive results. As he proved his concept he was given more and more direct reports until he built out a team that added $100 million in revenue. The idea of allocating limited resources for long term gain is highly applicable to customer service teams and Ross' discussion of how he went about it is a must read in my mind, no matter what sort of business unit you're running.
We often hear from customer service teams that tracking tickets handled or chats taken matters less to them in theory than being able to track the result. Did the customer decide not to cancel? Did the customer tell three friends who then became customers, and so on. The more data you have, the better you're able to quantify the impact your team is having on the business. By ensuring that you're tracking everything you can (and displaying what's the most important to your teams), you're able to tweak and optimize in ways that you wouldn't otherwise have the insight to do.
Metrics are getting bigger for customer service teams as the revenue implications of great customer service become clear to upper level management. Predictable Revenue is a great customer service resource for outlining what matters to a growing customer service team and giving some ideas about how to go about tracking that information.
It takes time to get it right:
Great customer service, both culturally and from an operational standpoint, takes time. Fast growing companies have huge expectations and a lot of pressure to perform in the short term. What happens with customer service is that sometimes long term greatness is sacrificed for short term functionality.
We've spoken to numerous companies that are doing an amazing job at customer service, growing fast, with really incredible people at the helm of their customer service organizations. Most of the time, those folks know exactly what needs to happen to ensure that their company continues providing a great customer service experience for years to come. Sometimes though, they've had to sacrifice that vision due to the demand for immediate improvements with immediate results. Predictable Revenue does a good job explaining with anecdotes and data that a great process, no matter where it's being implemented, needs time.
Ross and Tyler talk a lot about specializing for each individual role--inbound leads, outbound leads, account management, and closing. This is something that, after 100+ conversations, I believe is going to catch on more and more in customer service teams at they get more resources allocated to them (currently they get 2% of budget). Having people allocated to tickets, phones, chat and so on will allow for companies to become more efficient, handle more issues, and do so with fewer errors as people are able to specialize and excel at certain areas. Specialization will increase not only SLA's and efficiency but also CSAT and NPS as customers find they their issues are dealt with more accurately, faster.
Predictable Revenue is the kind of book where you find yourself taking copious notes and muttering "that makes so much sense" a lot as you read. It has lessons, common mistakes, and data that any team in customer facing organizations can use to help refine their methods. Without meaning to be, Predictable Revenue is a great customer service resource. Unlike many business books, it's also a really fun read.
What are your favorite customer service resource? Tell us in the comments or @tweetsfromhelp.
by sharing on one of the following social networks.