It’s time to bring sales and support back together. Back to the 1:1 relationships we had before mass marketing and the internet.

That’s the premise I set in Part 1 of this two-part series.

But what I’ve found is that getting people on board with this concept isn’t the problem. You’re probably already spending time and money trying to make sales and support collaborate more seamlessly.

Instead, customers and prospects want to know how. As in, how can we unify sales and support to balance internet availability and 1:1 service?

The key to bringing sales and support back together is to stop treating customer relationships as transactions and start focusing on your lifetime customer conversations.

What Are Lifetime Customer Conversations?

The lifetime customer conversation is an aggregation of every interaction you have with a consumer throughout her customer journey.

This includes voice calls, video calls, bot interactions, mobile messaging, in-store visits, support engagement, and more. Every touchpoint from awareness all through purchase, support, and advocacy.  

This differs from what most brands are doing with their sales and support departments.

Phone calls, emails, and contact forms have been the primary communication tools in the desktop web era. However, these types of interactions, coupled with disconnected sales and support, were best-suited for transactional customer relationships.

A customer would call a support agent with a question, the agent would close the ticket, and the conversation ended. Or, a sales rep would reach out to a prospect, close the sale, and move on to the next potential win.

Now, consumers expect more than the transactional treatment.

Take, for example, how consumers view their relationships with Apple. They think about their relationships as the sum of all experiences they’ve ever had with the company. Every brand needs to think about their customers the same way—as individuals, not disconnected touchpoints.

Focusing on lifetime customer conversations can help you deliver the 1:1 service customers expect without sacrificing internet availability.

Making Lifetime Customer Conversations Possible

In the past, aggregating all customer interactions into a single lifetime conversation was nearly impossible.

Now, mobile has changed the way we communicate and paved the way for unified customer conversations.

Forget the sales/support divide and start focusing on these technologies:

  • Messaging: Apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are dominating consumer time on mobile. Providing an asynchronous channel to communicate with your brand sets the foundation for an exceptional customer experience for mobile-first consumers.
  • Chatbots: The internet offered a level of scalability that 1:1 shops could never match. But when you implement chatbots correctly, they can help you interact with customers at scale without losing the personal touch. As long as you have the right escalation processes and channels in place, bots can be powerful customer experience tools.
  • Layer Customer Conversation Platform: Customers don’t want a disjointed experience that bounces them from phone calls to third-party messaging apps and back to email. Layer helps you aggregate all interactions into a lifetime customer conversation.

In the 1:1 shopkeeper era, customers had to accept limited product/service choices. And then with the internet, brands had to sacrifice 1:1 service to offer nearly-unlimited product/service portfolios. Now, you have the tools to provide internet availability with a 1:1 experience.

If you want to learn more about how to take advantage of new technology to provide this kind of customer experience, check out this Forrester report, How to Choose a Messaging Vendor.