Believe it or not, your non-customer facing employees, from Sales, Support to Finance, to Legal, are the foundation on which great customer experiences are built. Yet, too often, organizations don’t realize this, or they forget the importance of the support team until it’s too late and your customers begin leaving for your competitors.
If you work in a sales function, take a moment to read the story below and consider the importance of your support team. If you’re in support, take a moment to pat yourself on the back!
Back office to the rescue!
Today, my wife will finalize the sale of a car belonging to a recently deceased family member, thanks to Heather,* a 20-year back office veteran at a local car store.
The sale has logistical wrinkles involving power of attorney, assignment of the title, and other dull yet critical details to getting the deal done.
When my wife and mother first visited the car store, the sales staff were welcoming and wanted to buy the car but were skeptical the sale could work. They got the deal close, but not closed.
Then along came Heather, a back office team member, wearing a “since 1996” badge on her shirt. She listened to the details and said “no problem, here’s what we’ll need to do.” Deal done!
The Best Back Offices Solve Problems
My wife’s experience highlights the fact that the best back offices solve problems. Too often, they’re seen by their teammates as the problem.
Back office teams often find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, Sales views them as deal-blockers, complaining they’re not quick or creative enough in blasting through obstacles standing in the way of a closed sale.
On the other hand, Finance continually looks for ways to minimize expenses related to these non-revenue-producing departments.
The result? Back office teams become both underappreciated and underfunded, setting off a domino effect of: difficult work environment → talent drain → lost deals and poor customer experiences. That’s a problem.
The Solution: Celebrate Heather, Exercise Balance
To ensure your back office team helps your customer experience and doesn’t hinder it:
- Celebrate support team “assists” as much as sales team “baskets scored.” The Heathers of the world should see themselves and be recognized as true customer experience heroes, not unsung heroes.
- Encourage high fives, not high drama between Sales and support teams. This is easier when the teams are familiar with each other. Try doing introductions and team building exercises across teams, not just within them. You don’t need trust falls or obstacle courses to do this: ice cream socials will work just fine!
- Exercise talent management balance by placing strong managers and individual contributors in support positions, not just front line roles.
- Be cautious when minimizing expenses in support functions. Running lean is important, but if you cut expenses too deeply in “non-customer facing” areas, know that this will still impact customer-facing areas and, in the end, your customers.
If you’re in sales, remember to say a genuine “thank you” to your support teams when they come help you out. A quick word of thanks costs you nothing, but it goes a long way to building a working partnership that will pave the way for more closed deals and loyal customers.
And to all back office teams out there, keep up the good work! You may not always get the glory you deserve, but take pride knowing that great customer experiences aren’t possible without you.