Archive for customer service

How to Upsell and Cross-Sell

customer feedback, customer service,

Upselling and cross-selling are both beneficial for any industry for one simple reason: more revenue.

But you must be strategic in how you approach your customers or they will see right through the “You may also like …” sales pitch. To really see success with your product suggestions, you must strive for the ultimate goal: customer delight. When you can convince your customer that your suggestions are for their benefit, then you can master the art of upselling and cross-selling.

Keep reading to learn how to use upselling and cross-selling to your advantage.

Upselling vs Cross-Selling

Upselling is encouraging the purchase of anything that would make the primary purchase more expensive. Cross-selling is encouraging the purchase of anything in conjunction with the primary product. For example, it would be upselling to offer the purchase of batteries with a camera, but it would be cross-selling to offer the purchase of a scanner with a printer.

Helen Campbell‏, founder of business coaching and training company Jazz Cat, advises her clients to tailor their offering to the client’s specific needs. “By upselling or cross-selling your services appropriately you can help your client achieve their goal, for example, more time, peace of mind, or a solution to a problem,” she says. It is all about adding value, and the difference between ‘selling’ something to someone and adding value is huge. “The key skill is to listen, hear your client’s needs and offer innovative and practical options,” says Campbell.

It’s worth keeping in mind that upselling can be 20 times more effective than cross selling, probably because once they have a specific purchase in mind customers don’t want to be distracted by something else. However, something that makes their first purchase better has far more chance of encouraging them to buy.

One of the golden rules of upselling is to ensure that it is highly relevant or complementary to the current purchase. “It’s the jewelry, the cardigan, the shoes to go with the dress. It’s the better gadget with more features,” says Marie Brown, founder of Beyond the Kitchen Table, which works with small businesses to help them grow. “It might be ‘we also have this gadget that can also do X, therefore saving you time or the purchase of another gadget’,” adds Brown. “I recently bought a more expensive printer on the basis that the ink would cost me a lot less over three years.”

And upselling and cross-selling is not just for retail. It can trickle into other businesses…for example, travel agencies. Pam Smith, leisure manager at Frosch Mann Travels in Huntersville, North Carolina, notes that “Travelers have a tendency to default to the product they’ve done before. If they’ve cruised before, for example, and enjoyed it, they might assume a cruise is best for their next trip. But that’s not always the case—we need to have those conversations about what they want to see and do to figure out the best option.” This is the heart and soul of travel professionals—using your expertise to point travelers in the right direction towards their best possible vacation.

Just like any retail business, Smith pays careful attention to her clients’ feedback on previous trips to see where there might be an open window to sell a more premium travel experience. She says, “My favorite is ‘We loved the trip, but the hotel could have been a little nicer or the transfers better.’ Then I know there’s an opportunity to go for something more upscale.”

She also listens carefully to the origin and background of a vacation idea to see what add-ons might be appropriate. For example, she recalls working with an older couple who was going to go on a river cruise in Europe. “They told me they didn’t anticipate ever being able to go back to Europe after this,” says Smith. “To make the most of their time there, I also suggested a guided vacation for after the river cruise. They loved the idea of seeing more while they were there.”

Opportunities for upselling and cross-selling exist in every realm of business; you just have to be aware and ready when they arise. By using your knowledge and expertise to identify the right experience for each client, you will create a loyal client base and continually grow your business.

Customer Experience vs. Customer Service

Customer service

The terms “customer service” and “customer experience” are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings and interpretations. While they are related, there are definitely unique characteristics of both.

Today, research shows that companies investing in customer experience boast a higher stock price. According to a portfolio of publicly traded companies drawn from the top 20% of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index – these companies that invest in customer experience had higher stock price growth and higher total returns than a similar portfolio of companies drawn from the bottom 20% of brands.

So what is the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience?

Customer service is only one piece of the puzzle — focused on human interaction and directly supporting customers while customer experience is the sum of the entire customer journey with your business.

Let’s get into more detail.

Customer Service

Customer service is the assistance and advice provided to a customer for your product or service as needed. Customer service requires your team to possess patience, product knowledge, and compassion, so they can provide the answers and assistance a customer needs.
The goal of customer service is to increase customer satisfaction, usually by answering questions, but could also include helping a customer choose the right product before they make a purchase, giving assistance to customers on how to best use the product, trouble-shooting any issues, and ensuring they had a great buying experience. Customer service is a vital part of the entire experience—nearly 75% of customers who leave do so because they aren’t satisfied with customer service.

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience, or CX, reflects the broader customer journey across the organization and includes every interaction between the customer and the business. Customer experience is the sum of all contact, from first discovering and researching a product to shopping and purchasing, to actually using the product and following up with the brand afterwards. Customer experience measures how customers feel about a company overall and includes the emotional, physical, psychological connection customers have with a brand. It isn’t a one-time interaction, but rather includes the entire customer lifecycle and every touchpoint a customer has with a product or service.

Customer experience includes three main components:

  1. Customer Service: Including Customer Support, Customer Success, and self-service support — the points at which your customer interacts with your team.
  2. Technology: This is the product itself — how it works and the interactivity points.
  3. Design: This is the brand touchpoint — the marketing, the design, and the feelings your brand creates for your customer.

All of the pieces combine to make up the customer experience.

Putting it Together

Customer experience is measured by net promoter score (NPS), which tracks how likely a customer is to recommend the brand to a friend. Customer service is measured through the customer satisfaction score (CSAT), which measures how satisfied customers are with the experience.

The main difference is customer service is reactive and often is only used when a customer isn’t satisfied. If a customer has an issue with a product or service, that is typically the only time they would contact customer service. On the other hand, customer experience is proactive, aiming to reach every customer. The goal being to provide an exceptional journey so customers do not have to contact customer service. While customer service may only be a one-time interaction, customer experience is long-term, creating lasting impressions that will stay with the customer every time they think of the company.

Customer service and customer experience are both important pieces to an organization’s success, yet it’s not possible (or necessary) to draw hard lines between them. Customers consider the whole picture when thinking about your brand, and you should, too. The two elements work together to build a satisfied customer base that is loyal to the brand and will return for more.

How to Talk to your Customers More Effectively

Heard any of these before? “I’m going to put you on hold for just a second.”; “I think you misunderstood me just now — what I actually said was…”; “I understand you are upset, but…”

Let me guess…those statements frustrated you more than helped you. In these instances, customers were seeking help but what they received was a negative interaction brought about by tone and wording. Although the problem could still be resolved, the customers received a negative customer experience, and unfortunately that’s what they’ll remember.

Effective communication is the key to building and nurturing any relationship, whether personal or professional. Communicating with customers effectively can help you gain their loyalty – leading to repeat purchases, positive word-of-mouth, and referrals.

But on the flipside, failure to communicate well can create dissatisfaction, frustration, and a decrease in sales. And, in the day and age of social media, negative word-of-mouth from unhappy customers can spread like wildfire, tarnishing your reputation.

Regardless of the medium through which you communicate with customers, the bottom line is that it needs to be done well. Here are some simple ways to communicate with customers effectively.

Use the Right Tone

In some situations, it makes sense to take an authoritative tone, for example when providing a technical answer about software functions to a B2B customer. Other scenarios may call for a more empathetic tone, such as assisting a customer who is frustrated with a malfunctioning product.

How and when we accentuate words and phrases also conveys a message. Customer service expert Shep Hyken illustrated this in a recent column, pointing out how vastly different common responses to customers can be. In a café, servers often respond to a customer’s thank you with “No problem,” or “My pleasure.” They may then ask a customer “What else can I get for you?” or “How is everything?” All of these phrases are very common in the service industry, but Hyken points out that a sincere “My pleasure” is the preferable phrase in response to customer thanks because it more effectively communicates that you value the customer. Similarly, a caring “What else can I get for you?” conveys a willingness to provide additional service in a way that “How is everything?” can’t replicate. Both are great examples of why tone matters in customer communication.

Choosing the Right Words

Let’s revisit our opening example: “I’m going to put you on hold for just a second…” Both parties know “just a second” is a figure of speech and it sets an unrealistic expectation. A better approach is to ask customers if you can put them on hold and give them a ballpark timeframe for when you’ll be back.

Using the word “but” in a sentence negates everything that was said before it. More effective phrasing would be an acknowledgment of the customer’s frustration and an apology: “I can understand your frustration and I’m very sorry you experienced that”. With this response, the customer will feel heard and may be more receptive to discussing solutions.

It’s also important not to sound defensive or deflective. Instead of saying, “You misunderstood me,” an agent could reply, “Sorry about the misunderstanding, what I meant to say was…” to put the focus back on the customer issue and avoid escalating the situation.

And try to avoid scripted language. It is impersonal and customers are quick to understand if you’re resorting to such responses in your conversations with them. Make sure your support representatives have real conversations with your customers.

Focus on Quality and Sentiment

In a competitive environment, it’s easy to get lost in a web of metrics that are focused on quicker resolution times. Quicker resolution means fully resolving a customer’s issue in the quickest possible time. 51% of customers believe that they can get the fastest resolution to their problems over the phone, followed by live chat (23%). But instead of worrying about hitting certain metric goals, focus on the quality of your response and develop a team of representatives who are committed to engaging meaningfully with customers. Train your team to be your customer’s ally and try to solve their problems effectively.

You also need to equip your team with the right tools. Your representative should instantly be able to pull up a customer’s records. This can include information about their purchase history or any recent interactions with your team. Information and insights such as these can help to give your team member some context about a customer’s issue. This allows the support representative to share relevant and accurate information. Lack of accuracy is one of the top reasons for customers to get frustrated with support.

Conclude your Conversations Properly

Conclusions are just as important as your first impressions. Customers can tell when support representatives are in a hurry to attend to the next person in line. Your eagerness to solve one more ticket could cost you a customer. Make sure your representatives end their conversations well, even if that extends the call by a few minutes. Your objective should be to end the conversation in a way that leaves your customer happy and content.

The Bottom Line on Communicating Effectively

It’s important to remember that customers seeking help aren’t always looking for a solution or additional information. Sometimes how their issue is resolved can be more important than actually fixing the problem because it indicates how much a company cares about their business.

Representatives who use the right tone and choose their words carefully send a positive signal to customers that they are respected and valued. Communicating effectively requires people skills, but it’s also helpful for agents to have the right tools. That allows them to understand customer needs immediately, find answers quickly and efficiently, and communicate effectively with every customer.