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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…




Some Commercials Should Never Be Aired


Let’s face it – sometimes even negative buzz is good buzz for companies, and really bad commercials can do the trick. Take, for instance, the new Old Spice Commercial….



Definitely got people talking, and it’s pretty creepy, but it’s attention getting. However, it’s not quite as bad (maybe) as some of the worst commercials of this holiday season….


Take, for instance, probably the #1 worst commercial this year. Yep, you guessed it – Kmart’s version of Jingle Bells:



This, for me, was the all time worst commercial. I had to look away or change the channel whenever it was on. Unlike the Old Spice commercial, this one goes beyond quirky or creepy – it’s just too much.


The other notable bad commercial that had people buzzing this holiday season was for Honda. When you think of Honda, what comes to your mind first? Michael Bolton? I thought so! Apparently so did the advertisers who created this commercial, which a Marketing Manager who blogged about this believes that this commercial “was the number one cause of depression in America today.”



What are some of your other favorite worst commercials for this holiday season? Join in the conversation and weigh in on the worst commercial of the season!



McResource = McFail


McDonald’s tried…they really did. They offered an employee resource service, both telephone and onsite, called McResource. The purpose of this site was to offer tips, resources, and assistance to McDonald’s employees. It’s a good thought, and one that could serve beneficial for those who needed it.


But, it was recently taken down, as it was not as helpful as originally anticipated. The site provided some information and advice that was not at all relevant to the employees – for example, one “tip” offered advice on how much to tip pool cleaners, housekeepers, and au pairs, despite the fact that many of the employees are not making an income commensurate with these types of services.


When offering budget information, news sources share that the site offered budgets that not only included a line item for a second job (subliminally suggesting that wages were not sufficient enough to maintain a basic lifestyle) and didn’t account for some major items, such as food and gas.


It continued to serve up out of touch advice, and culminated in the website being taken down when nutrition advice encouraged employees to NOT eat “unhealthy”, which is great, but then used food typically served at McDonald’s as an example of what not to eat:





For me, it’s not so much the nutrition advice that struck me, it’s that the advice provided is not in tune with what the “average” McDonald’s employee may need. I think McDonald’s was trying to provide a great service to their staff, and a statement released by the company shows that:


“Between links to irrelevant or outdated information, along with outside groups taking elements out of context, this created unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary. None of this helps our McDonald’s team members.”

The company stated also that they offer helpful information from third party vendors, which is great, but it has to be relevant.


Taken out of context or not, it’s a good lesson for companies to be in tune with your employees, what their needs are, and what issues are most relevant to them. As I mentioned, I think this was a great attempt to offer employees assistance, information, and advice; however, the company needed to ensure that the information was relevant to their employees and could offer them the help they were looking for.


Perhaps listening to employees, through feedback programs or a “contact us” link on the McResource site would have been helpful. When you want to help employees, it’s important to do it from their perspective and give them what is truly important to them. Being out of touch, or giving the perception of being out of touch (by offering tip suggestions for pool cleaners), can send the wrong message to your employees. And, if word gets out, it can create bad press for your brand.


The site has been taken down for the moment; hopefully they will revamp it and reopen it to its employees with more relevant, useful information. Before doing this, I hope they take time to listen to their employees and really get a sense of their needs so that this time, it’s a success.