It’s my job to help telecom service providers improve their customer service practices and increase sales of their products and services. Because I get up close and personal with telephone companies in this regard, I speak with authority when I say they are missing cross-selling opportunities.
How do I know? When I work with a telecom provider, my company poses as a new or existing customer to find out what the salesperson does to understand the customer’s needs.
Of the last 20 companies I have asked to establish service, only one suggested other products it offered in addition to telephone service. I wasn’t asked if I was interested in ordering high-speed DSL, cellular service, cable TV or DTV, long-distance telephone or other features, such as call waiting, voice mail or caller ID. Unless customer service representatives take the time to understand customers and identify their needs, they may miss opportunities to increase the company’s revenue and strengthen customer loyalty through the purchase of additional services.
Here are a few pointers:
1. Is your software cross-sell friendly? At most telecom companies, CSRs handle a variety of inquiries, from installation to billing to trouble calls. Going from one call to the next, the last thing a CSR may be thinking of is other services that could benefit customers. Invest in software tools that show CSRs on one screen what services each customer has and that flag services CSRs should recommend. Make it easy for your people to cross-sell.
2. Incentives for cross selling. For the next 60 days, provide a cash or non-monetary incentive to every CSR that cross-sells voice mail, caller ID or call waiting when a customer calls to set up phone service. Measure the number of additional features added over those 60 days to evaluate the effectiveness of using incentives to encourage your staff to cross-sell.
3. Trigger words and phrases are an opportunity to cross-sell. CSRs should listen for words or customer problems that can be an opportunity to cross-sell additional services. If a customer complains that his or her phone is frequently tied up because kids are on the Internet, that’s an opportunity to cross-sell the benefits of DSL. If a customer mentions they lose their satellite TV signal during storms, cross sell the benefits of DTV or cable TV. Discuss with your staff some of the common situations they hear from their customers and what would be appropriate cross-sell solutions.
4. Product promotions can open the door to cross selling. CSRs believe they are pressuring customers to buy when they cross-sell. Create an incentive for customers to buy on the spot and make your CSRs more comfortable in offering it.
5. Cross-selling is a learned skill. Perfecting the ability to listen for trigger phrases and opportunities to cross-sell other services requires training and role-playing. Work with your CSRs every week by simulating a variety of customer interactions. Discuss the interactions to identify opportunities to cross-sell customers on other services.
6. Establish cross-sell goals. Get your CSRs involved in creating goals for the number of cross sales they will make in a month. This will give them ownership in achieving these goals. Compile cross-sell results from the previous week and post them so CSRs can see how they are progressing toward reaching their goals.
If I walked into your telecom today, posing as a new customer needing phone service, would the CSR meet my immediate needs and then look for opportunities to sell me even more services? If your answer is “yes,” congratulations! If your answer is “no,” create action steps that your telecom will take in the next 30 days to make cross-selling a priority at your telecom. Both you and your customers will reap the rewards.
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities.