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Upselling: Timing is Key, Learn When To Stop


I really dislike calling service companies, like the telephone or cable companies, with questions or concerns. I know what’s coming – they will help me (or try to) and then at the end of the call, highlight a new feature or service and try to get me to buy.

I know it’s coming, and I’m sure it’s part of the employee standards that have to be followed. It’s their job, but to those who train the staff managing customer calls – please train your staff to understand that when it comes to upselling services, timing is everything and know when to stop.

Last week I had trouble with my cable TV. I had just changed out my furniture in the family room and the cable box was no longer working. I went to the company’s website and it said there was an outage in my area, but I couldn’t quite tell if that was the problem or if it was something I did.

I was not in the mood to call the company, knowing that at the end I would be a hostage in hearing of new services; I thought the live chat would be easier and less intrusive. I was wrong.

Things were going okay and while we were chatting, the TV suddenly started working, so I’m thinking it was an outage. I thank the rep and see that he’s about to pitch a new service. I think to myself that I’ll see what he says and politely decline, and I’ll be on my way.

No such luck. Here is how the rest of the chat went. After my last statement, I waited a few moments with no response from the rep. I was thinking that, perhaps by staying in the chat room, I was giving him some sort of authorization to send me whatever initial email he referenced earlier, so I printed the chat and left the room.

chat blog2

Two things went wrong here:

  • First, I don’t know that it’s appropriate to try to sell additional services when a customer is having issue with one of your services. I wonder if the companies feel that customers will be more likely to add on after an issue has been resolved, but in my experience, I’m usually cranky that something isn’t working right and just want to resolve it and move on. Additionally, if the rep does not have my history available (I’m not sure if they do or not), they may not know that this is the third time I’ve called in a week about the same issue and may be close to dropping the service. If that’s the case, trying to sell additional services could be the end of the relationship.
  • Second, no means no. I did telemarketing one summer in college and remember that we were trained to make the customer say no at least two times before we could end the call; I get the impression that the same is the case here. However, to push it to the point of saying “don’t even use the service, focus on saving $10 a month” is over the top and sounds desperate to me – either the rep really needs to make a sale to keep his job, or he just wants to say he closed sales and doesn’t care if it benefits the customer at all. Either way, it turned me off completely as a customer.

Upselling is an art form really; it’s about timing and presentation. Done effectively, it could do wonders for growing sales. Done incorrectly, it could result in losing customers over time.


Dukin Donuts Takes a Swing at Starbucks


Back in February, Starbucks was under fire for changing up their loyalty program. They claimed the changes were made after listening to their customers, but the reaction many customers had was less than ideal.


This week Dunkin Donuts made a pitch to encourage new members of their loyalty program. Some speculate they are taking a hit at Starubucks with this new promotion.


dukin perks


In and of itself, the promotion isn’t much to think about. However, whether intention or not, the code to enter (STARS) is in line with Starbucks loyalty program, considering the tag line is “More stars. More things to love.”


In comparing the two programs, it looks like Dukin Donuts is offering a sweeter deal, likely in response to Starbucks newsworthy changes and the resulting backlash the company received. Another component to the more generous seeming program likely stems from the fact that Dunkin Donuts is typically less expensive than Starbucks, so they have to make an offering to allow customers to earn points and be worthwhile enough to join. Below are some of the differences between the two programs:


Dunkin: 5 points for every dollar spent

Starbucks: 2 points for every dollar spent


Dunkin: 200 points to a free coffee

Starbucks: 125 points to a free menu item


Dunkin: no member levels, continue earning as you buy

Starbucks: two member levels depending on purchase history/frequency


Coffee lovers seem to be loyal to their preferred brand, but it’ll be interesting to see if Starbucks customers migrate to Dunkin Donuts or stay loyal to Starbucks. If nothing else, this appears to be a dig at Starbucks for changing their loyalty program, which of course will gain additional visibility and online discussion. This is always good for a brand, so kudos to Dunkin for taking a swing!



Introducing Spot Check Mystery Shops


spot 5


Mystery shopping programs are great – they’ve been around forever and have been successful in helping businesses measure and maintain an exceptional customer experience.

Technology has been good to the industry, for both mystery shopping providers and their clients. What was once a process that took significant time is now much more efficient thanks to technology. And recently, things got even better.

Mystery shopping spot checks are the newest tool in the mystery shopping industry. Unlike a traditional mystery shop that focuses on the entire customer journey from start to finish, these spot checks are shorter evaluations that target specific snapshots of the customer experience.

Why are these different?

  • They focus on one or two specific aspects of the customer experience. This gives companies a clear analysis of core standards across all locations.
  • The information is submitted in real time. Unlike traditional mystery shops, the reports are submitted on site, right after the customer’s experience. Think of it as the love child of mystery shopping and customer feedback – objective information coupled with standard observations of KPI’s delivered in real time.
  • It complements traditional mystery shopping. While not a replacement for traditional mystery shopping, it is a great complement to a traditional program.
  • It’s cost efficient. Mystery shopping spot checks are conducted on mobile devices and are more focused. Because of this, they are less expensive than a traditional shop.

Uses for mystery shopping spot checks

There are many ways the mystery shopping spot checks can be used independently or as a complement to your regular program:

  • Follow up shops: when shops are conducted on a monthly basis, companies will set a performance threshold. When this is not met, a spot check can be dispatched to evaluate the location within 2 weeks of the original shop, only focusing on the key aspects that were missed the first time. This will help determine if it was a one time issue or if a location has ongoing issues that need to be addressed.
  • Promotions & events: if your company is rolling out a huge promotion, you want to make sure the locations are in compliance with marketing strategies before it begins. A spot check can send mystery shoppers to your locations to make sure the appropriate signage and messaging is in each store, complete with pictures uploaded in the report.
  • Product quality: especially when rolling out a new menu items, spot checks are a great way to make sure product quality and presentation are consistent. Picture uploads will let you see first hand how products are made and presented to customers.
  • Reward your employees: randomly conduct a spot check at all of your locations, focusing on three of the most important service standards. Reward the employees/locations with the highest scores. The surprise will be a welcome one, and can be used to motivate staff to treat every customer as though they were the mystery shopper.

Maintaining strong customer experiences takes work and continual monitoring and measurement. Why not utilize all of the available tools? There are many potential uses for mystery shopping spot checks. Hopefully the ideas above will get your company thinking about different ways you can incorporate this new methodology.