3 Ways to Efficiently Cross-sell and Upsell while Resolving Customer Complaints

You’re on the phone with a customer service representative, frustrated and irritated because your cellphone service provider has a consistent poor signal and painfully slow data download speeds resulting in calls being cut off and making browsing the internet sometimes impossible. The customer service representative or CSR who is trained to maintain his cool and keep an upbeat attitude even in the face of pure wrath from a customer, finishes up the call by saying, “Sir, could I interest you in signing up for our wi-fi option for your home?”

“No thank you!” you almost scream in annoyance while making a mental note to immediately start looking for another service provider.

The above is an example of poorly executed cross-selling and up-selling which will impact customer retention.

Two reasons the CSR failed to upsell:
  • Lack of empathy: Following a script and giving a sales pitch which was clearly not going to add value to the customer, and was being presented at an inappropriate time.
  • No active listening: This was a customer who was highly irate, the last thing he wanted was an offer of another product when he is already having a bad experience with the current product's services team.
Attempting to cross-sell and up-sell to customers while solving their problems or complaints can be tricky. Get it wrong, and you can lose the customer for good. However, it can be effectively done if you know how to go about it and make intelligent use of your CRM software tools to help you.

What are cross-selling and up-selling:

3 Ways to Efficently Cross-sell and Upsell while Resolving Customer ComplaintsCross-selling: Suggesting or offering horizontally related products or services which relate to or enhance the core product being purchased. The most common example of this comes from the fast-food industry. “Would you like fries with that?” A simple, inexpensive addition to your order, but every extra $1 fries across the country makes a significant difference to the company’s bottom line.

Upselling: Suggesting or offering vertically related products of a higher value. Using the fast-food industry as an example again. “Regular or Large?” “Would you like that super-sized?”

The travel industry uses this up-selling technique as well. Have you noticed that as you get to the end of your online flight booking, another window will pop up asking you “Do you need a rental car?” or “Do you need a hotel?”

Call center agents can capitalize on this this crucial marketing and sales technique when dealing with customers to make a huge difference on the profit and loss statement., but, need to know how to do this correctly.

3 ways to ensure CRM success through effective cross-selling and up-selling:
1. Resolve the customer’s complaint: Your business' top priority should always be to take care of your customers. Happy customers become returning customers and advocate specific brands and services to their circles.

So, when the CSR is dealing with a customer grievance, their first priority is to resolve the customer’s complaint efficiently and effectively. Even highly disgruntled customers can be defused when handled correctly. This builds trust and once re-established, only then should an attempt be made to do selling of any kind to the customer.

Here’s an example of effective cross- and up-selling while resolving the customer’s problem - a customer who is not very tech-savvy just bought a PC with a small hard drive not realizing that he in fact requires a much larger hard drive for the amount of data he needs to put on the computer.

The CSR can recommend swapping his current PC with an alternative PC with a bigger hard drive which will cost a bit more, but meet his needs (up-sell) or suggest buying an external hard drive (cross-sell) which will be cheaper than a whole new computer. Both solutions solve the customer’s issue and the company ensures it provides the most appropriate solutions to build a good relationship.

2. Data mining and analyses: One of the most useful aspects of CRM for customer services is its 360 degree view of the customer that shows all contacts, deals, complaints, contracts, open/ closed activities, etc. for a person or company displayed through a single window. By analyzing the data, users can pinpoint what the customer is likely to purchase based on past purchases and existing requirements. Understanding the customer’s purchasing behavior and preferences can be used to provide that personal touch and make the interaction a positive one.

When call center agents have quick and easy access to holistic customer information, it empowers them to intelligently recommend a best fit product based on:
  • Product's value: If their purchase history shows that they buy consistently high-value items, they are not likely to opt for a sales pitch on a cheaper, more inferior product. Similarly, if they tend to prefer lower-value products it shows that this is a budget-conscious shopper. Do not try and sell them a top of the range, highly expensive product.
  • Past purchases: If the customer’s history includes buying accessories, go ahead and cross-sell, but pay attention to the type of accessories they tend to buy.
3. Offer value and meet the customer’s needs
If you’ve settled the customer’s grievance, gained some trust and scanned their purchase history, you can now move on to building more rapport with the customer. This means employing a technique called 'active listening'-
  • Listen for cues: If you hear frustration, reassure the customer that you understand where their frustration is coming from. Pay close attention to whether frustration has eased off. If it has, the customer may now be more open to buying more products.
  • Listen for clues to what the customer needs or expects: This, coupled with the data on their buying trends is the key to making a suitable recommendation on a product that meets their need and/or also offers value. Gauge their value expectation because many customers are happy to pay a higher price for a better quality product that will last longer.
Customers are more responsive to products or services that offer value rather than having unnecessary products rammed down their throat and sensing a purely money-making motive behind it. The best time to cross- or up-sell is usually towards the end of the conversation when the CSR has dealt with the pain points and gleaned enough information to make an appropriate recommendation.

Don’t be pushy! Amazon does this very subtly with their recommendations, “Customers who bought this item also bought”.

Most importantly, a part of active listening is taking cognizance of when no sales pitch should be attempted. Don’t just follow a script and in a robotic tone, push products that are totally unrelated or ill-timed. A highly irate customer will not be open to any selling and it may antagonize them further.

CRM user's cross-sell analyzer
Although it is challenging, complaints and grievances when handled expertly can enhance customers' perceptions and often offer the ideal opportunity to make a fresh sale. Ensure a consistent and continually improving cross and up-selling strategy with CRM analytic and customer services automation. An effective CRM solution has an automated 'cross-sell analyzer' which can optimize selecting the best fit product when selling to an existing customer - it displays multiple options for products based on the user's inputs related to the prospect's propensity to buy or budget. Carefully targeted cross-selling and upselling can enhance relationships and build customer loyalty.