Don’t Try To Upsell When There’s Trouble


I’m all for upselling and cross selling, and I know employees are trained to do this at every opportunity. Done in the right fashion, it’s very effective and can even make the customer feel as though you have their best interests in mind.


There is a time for everything though, and making this attempt when there’s an issue with service may or may not be the right time, depending on when it’s done.


Consider this…


A customer calls because their internet is suddenly not working. They’ve tried turning the modem and computer on and off and all of the standard things before calling the customer service line. The call was placed simply to see if there might be an outage in the area, since it was just working a short time before.


The customer reaches a service rep, who offers to assist. She checks the connection and determines there is no outage. Instead of doing additional troubleshooting, the rep immediately suggests switching to their newer, high priced product and gets ready to switch the customer over to a sales rep to discuss the matter further.


In theory, this is okay – the rep is trying to tell the customer that there is something better out there, and they have a promotion to save money and internet speed. That’s great, but maybe trying to fix the issue first would have been the better way to go.


As a customer, this felt as though the rep was simply saying, “You’re right, it’s not working. Time to get a new service!” The immediate need was fixing the service, and perhaps at the end of the call suggest that there is a newer service that the customer may want to take advantage of.


Instead, when asked about the promotion and what it would take to solve the current issue, The rep suggested that we “just take care of switching to the newer service now” since they are getting rid of our current DSL package. When asked how soon that would happen, thinking it would be very soon since the rep made it sound urgent, she explained it would be phased out by the middle of 2015. That’s more than a year away. It can wait for a while…please just help with the current issue.


The rep continued down this path, encouraging the customer to speak with a sales agent, and did not seem at all interested in helping. When it was clear the customer was not going to take her up on the promotion, she ended up offering to send a technician out to help with the issue. The customer said they would do additional troubleshooting on their own and call back if that was needed.


In the end, it turned out that unplugging the DSL cable and plugging it back in did the trick, but the customer figured this out on their own after working with the modem and computer for another several minutes after the call.


Why did this tactic not work?


1. The rep didn’t put an emphasis on fixing the issue at hand outside of suggesting a new service. The rep lost the customer’s trust by making it sound like an urgent manner, when in fact the phase out wasn’t happening for another year.


2. When asked more about the promotion, the rep was encouraging and upbeat about the promotion. However, when the customer mentioned receiving a mailing about bundle packages, the rep said this was not possible, as the cable TV portion was not available in the area. When the customer mentioned it was, based on the mailing, she seemed surprised. This was not the fault of the rep – she was not given enough product knowledge to be effective in encouraging new sales. She was offered very limited information it seemed, only related to one specific component of their service line.


3. In the end, an additional sale was not made, and the customer’s issue was not resolved or looked into beyond the initial diagnostic. This was a lose-lose situation.


Timing can be everything, and training staff to be able to sense the right timing can mean the difference between additional sales and customer dissatisfaction. Arming staff with enough knowledge about the full service line can also be helpful. It was an attempt that I’m sure was trained on and managers expect reps to use, but in this case it fell flat. Maybe next time…




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