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Continuity of Service: Why You Need To Retain Your People

In a world in which ‘new’ is always being hyped as being better and desirable, there’s something to be said for retaining the familiar, especially when it comes to our interactions with our clients. Clients crave consistency, of knowing that they’re going to get the same good treatment every time they call. There are therefore few things more important to a company than keeping that continuity of service: retaining the same employees in the same jobs who do them well. Nowhere is this more vital than in Sales and Account management. Nothing worries a buyer more than getting a different face every time they call - and it causes just as many headaches for you. If you want to do Customer Success right, you need to keep unplanned turnover to a minimum.

Continuity of Service is of utmost importance

New People, New Problems

Training takes time - and there’s a difference between ‘knowing what to do’ and ‘knowing what to do well.’ It might take an outgoing customer success operator the better part of an afternoon to train her replacement on your CRM software - but it might take that replacement the better part of six months before that software becomes second-nature, when the time between ‘knowing the problem’ and ‘realizing the solution’ becomes near-instantaneous. In those six months, your clients are going to have a frustrating time whenever they need CS solutions, and they’ll dream of the time when your employees ‘knew what they were doing.’ High turnover slows response times whenever experienced people are replaced with those with less experience. Someone who knew the system inside and out can’t be replaced overnight with someone with a day’s worth of training: and not only will response time slow, but mistakes will be made: unfamiliarity breeds complication.

The Engaged Employee

The problems are not limited to tech support and software. Think about the sales process: Roberto from Sales helped shepherd the buyer through the sales process - but two weeks from signing he left the company. The buyer is saddened - Roberto had done so much to land this sale - but these things happen, and the momentum is there to complete sale with Roberto’s replacement, Yuki. Four months after the sale the buyer gets a call about a new product line from someone called Brenda, and six months after that - with renewal on the horizon - they get a call from an Arjun, who replaced Brenda and has never heard the name ‘Roberto.’

To quote Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0, “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals.” It is the drive and loyalty any employee has to you, your company, and your mission - and it is not something a new employee gaines overnight. That commitment doesn’t come attached to a first pay cheque: it grows as the employee grows into their role: it also takes time, tim you client doesn’t have when they’re trying to get things done.

Once you’ve swapped-out four or five sales people, the client will be spooked - and rightly so. They not only don’t know or trust these new people, they don’t know if these people will be there one day to the next - they don’t know if anyone at your company cares about them, and they’re worried that they could get lost on the cracks. You can’t replicate a sales relationship overnight. A good sales person is one engaged with their buyer - they know where they are, where they’ve been, and what their future path for success is every time they pick up the phone or send an e-mail. Roberto knew his counterparts well: he knew how to make them feel at ease, and he knew the path of future success the company was taking. Poor Arjun hasn’t yet had the time to learn the names of everyone on his team, much less the details of his clients’ hopes and dreams. A new face can’t provide the same level of service with a fraction of understanding: overturn in sales happens, and you guarantee that a salesperson will stay forever - but there’s a difference between losing a salesperson and losing all of them.

Can You Be Trusted?

Customers and prospects will question your approach to business if you’re always turning-over employees. Ask yourself a question: why would a buyer choose to partner with someone who changes so much they’re always unrecognizable? Change is great, in theory, but that doesn’t mean you should throw-out continuity of service as out-of-date. A buyer is also asking questions of their vendors: Does my vendor take the solidity of our relationship seriously? If employees are always coming and going, will their replacements be able to execute with the same level of ability? You know the future your client is trying to achieve - but they’re also capable of studying yours. Unplanned turnover sends a message to clients: “We’re not a stable company. We are not a company that can recruit and retain quality employees.” A buyer is going to look at that and ask themselves “if they can’t do that, what else can’t they do?” They’re going to question if you are perhaps a company they can’t rely on in the future - and they may well be right.

So consider your own staffing levels. Have you been experiencing a high volume of unplanned turnover in sales and account management? What about Customer Success or Customer Support? Have you been worried about it, or have you been taking a laissez-faire, ‘it’s just how these things go’ attitude? If it is the latter, then it’s very likely that you’ve been endangering your relationship with your clients. By not providing them with continuity of service, you’ve been inconsistent with the quality of customer success or sales support that you’ve provided them. You may have made them very nervous about just how committed you are to ensuring their future success - not to mention how stable you are as a company. It is time to take a good long look at your departments: why is everyone always leaving, and how can you reverse that trend? If you can’t figure out a way to halt that constant turn-over, you’re not going to have a reputation for dependability and stability that buyers look for when seeking out partners for future success.

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