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Would You Like Some Fries With That Shake?
As the contact center evolves, cross-selling and upselling grow in popularity among companies--but not necessarily among customers.
For the rest of the October 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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The fast food restaurants have it easy. You place your order, and their upsell approach is one simple question: "Would you like to upsize that?" You can Biggie-size at Wendy's, King-size at Burger King, or Supersize at McDonald's. In fact, upselling is old hat at McDonald's. Do you remember the days when with every order you placed the server asked, "Would you like to add an apple pie to your order?" I once even had a server try to hard sell me when I declined: "Are you sure? You get two apple pies for only a dollar. It's a real bargain and they taste delicious." People have come to these restaurants specifically to eat. They're hungry. The fries smell great. So, hey, for an extra 39 cents, it's a deal they often can't pass up. At contact centers, however, the selling ain't so easy. I called Citibank recently to validate my new MasterCard. The last time I validated a card it was handled electronically. This time I was transferred to an agent. Fearing some snafu, I was instead surprised with a quick and painless validation. But then, before I could say thank you and be on my way, the agent went into her pitch. "I see by your records, Ms. Conlon, that you may be interested in this service." Wow! I thought. I'm being cross-sold. This is great. It was my first time being cross-sold in this manner. I was thrilled, even though I did decline the offer. And the second offer that she quickly launched into. I found the agent to be extremely pleasant, well trained, and thorough. She tried to overcome my objections, but she didn't try to keep me on the line when it was clear I wasn't interested. Maybe it's because I'm in the CRM business, but I thought being cross-sold to was really cool. When I excitedly told my cousin about it, she didn't share my enthusiasm. In fact, she was appalled: "Had it been me, I would have said, 'No thank you' and hung up immediately." And therein lies the challenge. Restaurant-goers are hungry, so they usually don't mind if you ask them to buy more to eat. Customers calling into a contact center are often calling to get information, complete a service, or resolve a problem. They rarely expect to be offered something not directly related to the reason they called. And like my cousin, they may even be put off by a sales pitch.
So although a company may have an opportunity to cross-sell or upsell, it's a crap shoot whether that opportunity will help the company connect with customers or drive them to the competition. Two issues that might contribute to customers defecting are agent turnover and training. Sales training can be costly, and it may not be money businesses want to spend on employees who may leave shortly after completing it. (One hundred percent turnover is not unusual for call centers.) But poorly trained or unskilled agents can be a huge turn off to customers. What's a company to do? First, decide whether cross-selling and upselling are even appropriate for your business (Would you like some rivets with that sheet metal?). Then audit your contact center operations in regards to both people and technology. For example, are there agents who would excel in a sales role? Do you have the technology for skills-based routing? Once you've conducted a thorough examination of your business goals and the staff and tools you have or don't have to support them, then and only then can you make the right choice as to whether contact center cross-selling and upselling will work (read: be profitable) for your business. And if you do decide to implement upselling in your organization, don't call me, I'll call you. Really. Contact Ginger Conlon at gconlon@destinationCRM.com
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To contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com
Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationCRM.com/subscribe/.
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