Article | 6 min read

How to overcome common sales-related customer service challenges

By Amanda Roosa, Senior associate, content marketing

Last updated September 21, 2021

A quality customer experience requires a dedicated sales team and support team. Sales reps start conversations with leads, and support reps continue those conversations once those leads become customers. But considering the way in which the former group passes the torch to the latter, it’s worth asking: Why aren’t more sales reps and support agents having conversations with one another?

Having separate silos for sales and support can make it harder for both parties to get their jobs done, but the short end of the stick goes to the customer caught between them. Clients make a purchase based on what a sales rep has promised them about the product or service. But the moment something goes wrong, the customer’s first line of contact is an entirely new person—a support rep. They often have no knowledge of past sales conversations, which is both inconvenient and infuriating for the customer.

If you’re a support agent, you know how difficult it can be to help a customer when you don’t know enough about their previous interactions with your company. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common sales-related customer service challenges that arise from the division of sales and support, along with the best way to address those issues and their root cause.

How to keep customer conversations consistent between sales and support

Providing good customer service means providing a consistent customer experience.

According to Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey, 71% of customers desire a consistent experience across all channels, and 68% would pay more for a product if the company had a strong record of good customer service. That means customers don’t want to be told one thing by sales and another thing by customer support, and they’re willing to pay extra to avoid such a frustrating experience.

That “bait-and-switch” feeling isn’t the only thing that can lead to an inconsistent customer experience. Clients also don’t like having to repeat themselves every time their call is transferred to a new person. Explaining information from a sales rep to a support agent, or vice versa, is tiring for customers. It could also give them the impression that the company they’re dealing with is disorganized or disinterested in them.

You can make the flow of information between sales and support more consistent with the help of a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. The right software can provide a complete picture of every customer’s past interactions, from first contact to the most recent sales call, along with every support email ever sent.

Zendesk Duet, which combines Sell’s sales automation and Support’s ticketing capabilities, was specifically designed to eliminate those sorts of communication gaps between sales and support. Duet allows support agents to access previous conversations at any time during a customer interaction to see what the client has already been told, which sales reps they’ve been in contact with, and what their ticket history looks like.

Once you’re able to see the conversation a customer has already had with sales, it’s much easier to continue that back-and-forth with them. Without that visibility, you run the risk of accidentally repeating or contradicting something they’ve already been told.

How to handle a sales-related question you can’t answer

Customers sometimes ask support agents questions that are better answered by sales reps. Say, for example, a customer asks about getting an extension on a trial period or making an adjustment to their current subscription plan. The support agent might not have the authority to fulfill those requests, or may just recognize that a sales rep would be better suited to convert such calls into sales.

If you find yourself in this position, be upfront about the situation. First, apologize to the customer for not having an answer. Then politely ask for time to track one down, making sure to reassure them that you will have an answer for them shortly. Avoid making the mistake of a “blind transfer” by confirming that the sales rep is available to talk before you transfer the call.

An integrated CRM makes it easy to find the appropriate sales rep and relay the necessary information to them. Zendesk Duet, for example, allows support teams to see which sales rep worked with a customer and forward tickets directly to the appropriate rep. Instead of putting a customer on hold for several minutes, you can quickly redirect the call to the sales rep they’ve previously worked with.

The more communication you have with sales, the more confident you’ll be when you’re required to handle future sales-related questions.

What to say to a customer with product complaints

There’s nothing worse than getting an angry customer. It’s especially uncomfortable, though, when the customer is upset because of a promise made in the sales process. You don’t know exactly what they were told, so you don’t know how to make things right.

To start with, support agents need to lend a calm, empathetic ear to unhappy customers. When dealing with complaints, it’s best to follow the HEARD technique that Disney practices when addressing their own service issues:

Hear: Listen politely to the customer’s complaint.
Empathize: Express an understanding of where they’re coming from.
Apologize: Tell them you’re sincerely sorry for the mistake.
Resolve: Find a fix that will satisfy the customer.
Diagnose: Reflect on what caused the problem so that you can avoid similar situations in the future.

When it comes to the “resolve” and “diagnose” stages of the HEARD approach, the right CRM can help tremendously. With Zendesk Duet, you can look at the customer’s sales history to see what they were told during the sales process. Once you understand the expectations that were set, you’ll be able to figure out how to make things right with the customer.

In general, it’s good practice to review past sales conversations and see what common objections prospects typically voice during the sales process. This will give you a sense of what types of complaints you can expect to see in support tickets. Notice how sales reps have traditionally responded to these complaints and align that communication with your own messaging. In addition to helping you prepare for common complaints, this method will help you align your language with that of your sales team, enhancing the overall consistency of the customer experience.

One solution for all your sales-related customer service challenges

Misalignment between sales and support teams creates an inconsistent, unsatisfactory customer experience. To offer better service, your company needs a solution that shares valuable data between sales reps and support agents and allows them to work in tandem, not in silos.

An integrated CRM can deliver the visibility and collaboration that are required across multiple departments. Zendesk Duet, for example, enables sales and support teams to seamlessly exchange customer data, making it easier than ever to identify and tailor a solution to a customer’s issue. It also allows sales reps to identify upsell opportunities that may present themselves in customer support interactions.

To learn about some of the other benefits of using an integrated CRM for sales and support, check out this resource.