Transformation from service to sales requires different skill sets for agents, and an environment that supports their efforts.
Posted Sep 5, 2006
Best-in-class call centers employ an integrated approach to achieve performance excellence, according to "Service to Sales Excellence," a new report from consulting firm Best Practices. The best call centers are those that continuously refine structure, process, selection, training, and performance management elements that drive cross-selling effectiveness.
"There are things that are causing this transformation within organizations," says Jonathan Tanz, head of research and consulting for Best Practices. "Call centers have been traditionally service centers [which are] call centers. The way you manage them is run them as efficiently as you can." Now however, companies have found that if they can convert some of these calls into sales, they can turn the call centers from cost centers to profit centers, according to Tanz.
Developing a high performing service-to-sales operation requires a comprehensive approach to ensure that cross selling becomes a primary strategic objective for the service center, according to Tanz. All elements of call center management must be considered and acted upon from the perspective of improving sales productivity through the customer service channel. Successful call centers reengineer orientation and training systems to provide incumbent and incoming employees with the skills required to conduct sales in a service environment.
Cultivating sales skills in the call center requires extensive and ongoing employee training and coaching--regardless of whether the trainees are new hires or incumbent service reps. Leading companies also develop cross-selling excellence through training their call center supervisors in sales techniques. Successful implementation of call center sales requires hiring and training sales coaches, creating sales training programs and bringing in employee training modules that are tailored to specific site needs. Models, methods, curriculum and time devoted to service versus sales vary according to the structure of each call center. To bring their staffs up to speed in cross-selling capability, benchmarked companies use a range of activities.
As companies transition from service to "service-to-sales" call centers that attempt to transition service calls into sales calls, the most effective ones are those that locate and train the right members of existing staff to handle both sales and service, while keeping those who can't handle both duties on strictly one or the other, Tanz says. "Assessment is a critical part of this.
"High-performing companies have introduced Six Sigma or other standardization excellence processes to weed out inefficiencies and establish uniform methodologies that drive overall productivity," Tanz adds. "This approach helps companies identify the productivity catalysts that spur sales effectiveness and aids executives in designing implementation roadmaps for realizing goals."
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