Start Making your Support Agents Your Sales Team! (Part 2 of 2)

When I wrote Monday’s post on what a bad idea it was to make your sales team your support team, I let you know that a second post was coming and that my thoughts weren’t complete. I saw a lot of great conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and Mike Lyons in particular nailed the problem:

When your focus, your priority, is sales and not support…you’re doing it wrong. When the insane metrics for success are based solely on sales, you’re setting yourself and your customers up for failure in the long term. Sometimes, sacrificing in the short term can pay off in a big way.

For me, a great example of this behavior is Hover. This is a referral link for them, because I genuinely think they’re amazing for the reasons outlined here. I used to use NameCheap for all of my domain names until my SRV records started breaking constantly. I wanted to use a new registrar, but also transferring domains is a pain. Then, I learned Hover has a white glove service where they’ll migrate all of your domains for you from any other registrar for no extra fee. They didn’t make extra profit from me, but I’m a hover customer for life and definitely a brand promoter.

Later on, I worked on a website for an elderly woman in my church who had no idea how to use a computer let alone manage a website or domain name (she made children’s music and wanted to sell it online). I asked her to register her own domain name so that she could retain full ownership. She was terrified of the prospect, but I knew that Hover would take care of her. She registered her domain name and set her DNS record up with them over the phone. She was delighted to work with them and said they answered her phone call faster than any other company she’d called in the last 10 years, and with a real person! They spent 30 minutes with her, walking her through payment, setting up the domain, domain privacy, and more…all for just the domain purchase fee. Now THAT is how you do customer service!

Your support people have the potential to be the best sales people in your entire organization. They interact with your customer on a daily basis. They know all of the pain points, feature requests, competing plugins or services that have wooed some of your customers away and they know why those products were a better fit. Your support team is likely the best equipped in your organization to tell you whether the products you’re selling are products your customers even want to buy, let alone to inform you of the most requested features and whether or not your customers are willing to pay for them.

If the focus for your support team shifts to providing an amazing experience as their metrics instead of sales numbers, your customers will stay. They will become promoters of your brand, they will remember how you helped them even when it wasn’t specifically your job, and despite the short term sacrifice you WILL enjoy long term stability.

Remember the movie Miracle on 34th Street? In it, a “random” guy off the streets named Kris Kringle becomes a Santa at Macy’s. When children request certain toys that can’t be found at Macy’s, Kris tells them where to go…even if the solution is a competitor. His bosses are so furious that they are planning to fire him until one of the women he helped pledges to always shop at Macy’s when able because of the amazing service Kris provided to her. This altruistic marketing does so well for them that they even publish advertisements in the paper about their service to help their customers find whatever they need, no matter who gets the final sale.

At Saturday Drive we recently started adopting this as a matter of policy. If a user asks for a feature we don’t currently have, we do two things. First, we make a note of that feature request with as much information about the users use case as we can so our product owner can review it and consider it for a future release. Second, we tell the user where they can find that feature even if it means sending them to a competitor. It is more important to us that our customers are taken care of and get a solution that meets their needs than it is for us to make the sale of something that might NOT meet their needs.

Do we like recommending other products? Despite being friends with the folks at Formidable, WP Forms, Caldera, and more…of course we don’t! We want our customers to spend money with us, not with them! That’s the beauty of this policy, though. Our team is forced to bear the “pain” that our customers face…that we’re not the best solution in certain areas. If this pain is felt enough, it will lead to a tangible change in our culture and our product. If we ignored our flaws, and tried to force our product to fit where we know there are better alternatives, we might fare better in the short term but in the long run we will end up with jaded users who not only end up on another solution anyway, but are now brand detractors instead of promoters.

Today, we might not meet the need of that developer or site owner…but they will remember the interaction that they had with us, and that we cared enough about their well being that we put them on the right path even if it wasn’t with us. Maybe the next time someone has a need, they recommend us and tell that story. Maybe the next time they need a form solution for themselves or a client, they remember that we *do* meet the need for that use case well. Maybe they don’t. It happens.

For us, as members of this awesome WordPress community, it’s important to reduce the friction of the WordPress experience overall. We need to face the facts that even if they aren’t as flexible, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and others are here to stay. They are objectively easier to use for most people than WordPress, and people are willing to spend their money on the “easy” solution more than they’re willing to spend on the “best” solution. If we want WordPress to succeed, then hosts, plugin developers, theme devs and more need to remember that while we’re all competitors, on some level we’re also all on the same team. If WordPress dies because we make our bottom line more important than people, we’ll go down with that ship.

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