John Kealey, CEO at Vivisimo, recently published a short article on destinationCRM.com titled “From Contact Center to Opportunity Center”.
In it, he discusses the weaknesses in assuming that customer contact employees can spot potential sales opportunities, convert those opportunities into sales, and even have the skills or desire to do same.
Interestingly, he points out that the nuance of customer dialog – meaning the expectation of contacting customer service teams for help (not to get sold to) and the actual tone/topic of the conversation with customer service, can lead away from obvious sales opportunities.
He quotes,”A recent Accenture survey revealed that 74 percent of customers find it “extremely frustrating” (50 percent) or “frustrating” (24 percent) to have a service agent attempt to sell them something. So any incremental revenue that may be gained by such attempts must be weighed against this erosion of the customer experience.”
One way he suggests that customer contact teams help in sales activities is to focus on selling things that can help customers with products or services they have already purchased. For example, noticing that a product or service they bought awhile ago may be expired or an old version might be installed – which is natural and easy to upgrade (generate revenue) while having a telephone, e-mail, or chat conversation.
Having led pure play service teams, inside sales teams, and hybrid teams in multiple industry verticals, I concur with Mr. Kealey’s observations and suggested solutions.
I have found that asking or incentivizing really good customer service team members to conduct serious sales activities just does not work – short or long-term – for all concerned. Better to arm customer service team members with the right tools to help them help their customers and everyone wins.