CRM in Action: Turn Agents Into Experts

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Challenge: The right script can make a general customer service agent appear as an expert. ServiceMaster, for example, has built its business on providing exceptional service to its 10.5 million residential and commercial customers. The company provides yard services, maintenance, pest control, and housekeeping services, and includes such well-known brands as TruGreen/ChemLawn, Terminix, and Merry Maids. ServiceMaster field professionals may be experts in their profession, but the service reps in its call center are not. Yet, ServiceMaster didn't want this to make customers or prospects feel uncomfortable about ordering services through agents. If the agents ask the right questions, customers feel more comfortable giving ServiceMaster their business, according to Kamran Pishevar, vice president of sales and customer service. Consequently, agents need to speak with some authority in each service area, from carpet cleaning to extermination--a seemingly impossible task. "We wanted to build customer confidence that we are experts at carpet cleaning. Before we even ask for the sale we would ask the customer certain questions about the type of carpeting, such as whether it is nylon, wool, or berber; when was it last cleaned? And [this] communicates to the customer we are in the carpet cleaning business because we are asking very specific questions," Pishevar says. But after that the same caller may inquire about "killing ants and roaches," he says. Agents need to quickly shift gears. Solution: To help agents do this ServiceMaster installed White Water Guide, a process flow and call scripting application from RiverStar Software. It provides detailed call scripting capabilities that can be called up on the fly.
Benefits: ServiceMaster saw immediate gains after implementing the application. Conversion rates jumped from 39 percent to 81 percent within one year and currently represent 17 percent of the company's overall revenue. "I have not looked at the return on investment, but the system probably paid for itself within the first six months," Pishevar says.
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