The title of this post comes from a question we use in job interviews. The full question is as follows:
Sales, customer service or operations: Which one is most important and why?
Now, the job we use this question for actually requires a fairly equal distribution of responsibilities among all three functional areas, but we use the question to help show where an applicant’s inclinations and skills lie.
Sure, it’s possible for someone to answer the question purely intellectually. They are great at operations, lets say, but truly believe sales is the life blood of any business.
However, this does not happen often. Usually the question helps provide another glimpse into the applicant’s skill set — both their comfort areas and their ability to handle challenging communication.
Of course, business is not limited to these three basic areas; however, virtually no business that is subject to competitive market dynamics can prosper without doing well in all three areas.
Sales, customer service, and operations are each independently important to most business concerns; yet, the individual importance of each activity should not overshadow how inherently dependent they are upon one another.
Think about it from the departmental view.
It is this interdependence that should be recognized by practitioners in all three areas.
Much is written these days about communicating across silos. Departments and business functions are not islands to themselves; they are interdependent parts of a single system. While one area might be predominant in certain circumstances, in the larger picture, no one discipline is more important than any other.
Each activity needs the other for an organization to be truly successful over the long term.
So, if anyone ever asks you which one of the three is most important and why, you now know the answer.
Why, it’s customer service, of course. 🙂
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.