How many times have you dialed in to a call center to have a problem resolved, only to be prompted with some sort of sales pitch to sign up for a monthly subscription or purchase something to get a discount on future purchases? These elaborate ploys are not only complex, but confusing and off-putting for the customer. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t seem entirely convincing to me – there has to be a better way to train call centers in sales-based strategies.
As it turns out, when done right, the results are astounding.
The customer is the main priority of the company. It’s the quality of the interaction, not the quantity of how many are done per day, that matters. When the customer is left beaming, he or she will most likely be interested in hearing what sales pitch agents have to make, but when the employee is stale and harsh, what incentive does the customer have to stay on the line? None.
For the most part, the call center exists to provide consumers with an opportunity to contact a company and conduct a transaction. This transaction may include making a purchase, resolving an issue, changing an account or a number of other important activities. More often than not, the call is related to a non-purchase issue, and with many unsuccessful end-of-call offers suggested by employees (such as the above), this usually ends up draining the profit potential from the call center. However, it doesn’t have to be this way for your call center; all you need is the right call center training.
A number of organizations are implementing upsell activities as a part of the call center interaction. The key to success in such environments is to implement the proper training to help the agent base upsell while also being satisfied in their jobs.
This can be a delicate balance and one that requires a clear strategy. Needless to say, there are some obvious challenges that can arise without the proper strategy set in place. Making the transition from a customer service team into a sales force is not an easy one, and agents may quickly flee to another employer if the transition is not managed effectively.
It may sound like an easy transition to provide the customer on the other end of the line with an offer to upgrade or add to a product they already use and enjoy. If the customer is a happy one, the conversation may easily take place; however, if the customer was frustrated, confused or mad, asking them to spend more money with the company sounds like an open invitation for the consumer to embrace your competition – it just doesn’t make sense. This is why establishing a positive basis from the very beginning of the customer interaction is key.
Customers do business with a company for a reason, and being offered solutions or services that provide greater value than what they are experiencing is what contributes to a good relationship between the customer and the company. In other words, customers do want to be sold to; they want information about the latest offerings and they want to feel as though the company is looking out for their best interest. But moving the frustrated customer successfully to the buying customer takes expert skill and training.
This type of training takes the pressure out of the sales process, as it provides the agent with the skills necessary to truly listen to the customer and understand his or her needs. Once those needs have been identified, offering something that adds value or solves a problem is perceived much differently by the customer than the agent who simply tries to push the order. This step should be part of the service process, not the overall goal of the call, and it’s your responsibility as a call center manager to enforce this kind of environment and feel.
Call center training that focuses on the process not only generates greater satisfaction for the customer base, but also boosts staff confidence. Agents have to be empowered to manage conversations, overcome buyer resistance and avoid being pushy. The agent needs to effectively slide into the role of consultant to enjoy great sales success, and again, this all comes down to you to not strictly enforce, but warmly nurture and guide to make happen.
Agents may not have come on board within the contact center with the intention of turning into sales professionals, but with the right training, it can happen with great satisfaction for the agent and profitability for the center – a win-win situation for all!
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo