By: Ben Stephens, Service Strategies
Customer service today requires more than the ability to communicate professionally. In today’s competitive market a new role, that of cross selling, is becoming an integral part of the customer service function. It is a natural function if done professionally with the customer’s needs in mind.
Many customer service professionals resist the role of cross selling because they are uncomfortable with it. It feels like sales rather than support. It feels as if they are forcing something on the customer that he or she did not ask for. It feels like telemarketing. It doesn’t have to.
In fact, cross selling is customer support when it meets a business need for that customer. The key is to determine that there is an unmet business need and then to match your company’s products or services to that need. This is exceptional customer support because it not only meets the immediate need of the problem the customer called about, it goes beyond the immediate need to understand the customer’s future or larger business needs. For example, a customer calls for technical support on your product. During the conversation the customer expresses frustration that she was not able to get assistance over the weekend because the standard support hours are Monday through Friday. The customer service professional has an opportunity to meet a greater need. The service professional solves the issue, then apologizes that this service is limited and states that the company does have a premium support plan for people who need extended hours. The premium plan would eliminate the frustration of having to wait for service when working during weekend hours, a valuable time saver. In another example, a bank customer calls to complain about extra charges on his statement for check writing. The support professional explains that the account the customer chose limits the number of checks that can be written and the customer exceeded that limit. However, there is another account plan that has no limit on check writing and may be a more appropriate account. The service professional offers to switch accounts over the phone, solving not only the immediate problem but meeting the customer’s greater business need.
Effective cross selling requires listening skills, knowledge of your customers’ business needs, and knowledge of your company’s services and products. What clues do customers give that they need additional services or products? How does the support professional present the opportunity in a way that conveys meeting a greater need rather than pushing a new product at the customer?
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