If you want to start a lively discussion within our industry, ask if a good customer service person can also sell. (Likewise ask if a sales person can handle customer service.) This question often comes up when helping clients who want to turn a customer care/service center into a profit maker, or at least off-set some of the cost, by selling more products or services through that channel. Fortunately, there are options that work regardless of your situation.
If you choose to sell in-house, here are a few things to consider.
The Personality of your People - Caregivers don't usually turn into bulldog sales people, but they can often handle basic up-sell and referral-sell processes. It depends on what you plan to offer as an add-on.
Who's the Coach – Teaching these skills takes an understanding of the sales process and the time and energy to train and monitor the associates. If this person has other requirements, you can lose focus on core customer care.
Scripting the Process – Do you have the talent in-house to script and tweak the sales process for the associates? Are they in a scripted environment already? Does the product need scripting or does it require a consultative sales approach?
What are you Selling – Can the product/service be sold easily at the end of the original call? Does it require a call back? The more complex the product, the more selling skills required.
Partnering with a Third-Party Marketer or Outbound Sales Center can be a quick way to bring sales revenue into your customer care center. Typically this works well in the following circumstances.
Commitment to Customer Care/Service is Paramount – If you have already built a great customer care center and want to keep the focus there, look to outsource. You provide the customer leads and the third-party pays you for the opportunity to sell to your customers.
No Selling Expertise In-House – There are many organizations that can help with training, scripting, and product selection – many can even manage the entire process. Make sure they have selling experience in the contact center environment.
Limited Products or Services to Sell – Third Party Marketers can bring complimentary products to the table to expand the offerings to your customers. Often they will employ other channels in the selling process to increase your success. When done right, it can grow customer loyalty. Since they often take calls passed from you, choose one that culturally fits your center and customer base.
These are just a few of the many considerations and methods for growing profit in a contact center. We never answer the customer service versus sales debate with a simple answer. Rather we look at the situation of the client and work through the best scenarios until we hit on a good starting place. Then we test it before going all in. That way, the many variables that are in play are managed for success.
If you are interested in reading more about turning profit in a customer care center....