Successful companies understand that a call center’s primary purpose is to retain customers so that they don’t defect to the competition. This means providing service to callers and resolving their problems as well as selling to them.
Yet even the best run companies often find it difficult to effectively generate sales from their call centers. This common problem certainly makes sense when you consider that callers are primarily seeking answers to questions and resolution to problems. However, for companies that optimize their call centers for sales, there are big opportunities for increased profits as well as greater customer loyalty.
Optimize Your System and Processes
The average call center conversation across all industries is between four and six minutes. During this time, the IVR system has to function properly, and the call center representative must be able to address the customer’s needs. If one component of the process isn’t successful or if a call is simply not resolved, the chance of a sale goes right out the window. One sobering statistic for any company to consider is that at least 15 percent of customers who don’t get their calls resolved will move on to another company. And these customers will tell on average five others about their less than satisfactory experience.
Before any company can begin to explore opportunities for increasing sales at the call center level, the first step is to ensure that calls are being managed as efficiently and effectively as possible. From the auto-attendant greeting and prompts to the amount of time the customer waits in an on-hold queue, the customer experience needs to be at a high enough level to keep the customer satisfied and engaged. Once a customer gets frustrated by an overly complicated IVR system or has to wait on hold for 10 minutes, the chance of a potential sale is lost.
In many cases, investment needs to be made to get a call center to a level where it can effectively sell products and services. Additional staff may be required to reduce on-hold times. These staff members will need to be properly trained. An upgraded IVR system or the addition of an advanced integrated solution like a call back software might be necessary to make it easier for callers to access departments or to use various self-help features. These investments are wise business decisions, though, especially if they establish a strong foundation for improving service and facilitating sales.
Capture the Attention of Your Captive Audience
Once your system and staff are in place, the next step is to seek out opportunities to educate and motivate your callers. This starts with ensuring that your IVR system recordings, particularly your on-hold messages, are informative enough to encourage the caller to want to learn more.
It’s surprising how few companies consider on-hold time as prime time for selling. Think about it. You have your caller’s undivided attention. You can choose to either irritate them with poor quality elevator music or pique their curiosity about a new product or a special promotion. Which do you think is more likely to lead to a sale?
Upsell and Cross Sell
Perhaps, the best sales opportunities for call center selling lie in cross selling and upselling products and services. If you are already using your inbound call center for taking sales orders, representatives can be trained to offer add-ons that make sense as part of the sale. It’s all about teaching them how to be order makers instead of just order takers.
Go Back for the Sale
If a service call has been successfully resolved, there may be opportunities to sell related products or services. Post-call follow-up gives you a valuable opportunity to suggest products or services that relate to the purpose of the call.
For example, if a customer has dialed into a tech support line because their printer wasn’t functioning, they will receive troubleshooting help to fix it. If the call was successfully resolved, the customer is satisfied but also aware that problems sometimes happen. This could be the prime opportunity to upsell them on a maintenance plan that covers future malfunctions.
Consider why your customers are calling and how you can alert them to something that might be of particular benefit to them. This can be provided in the form of a follow-up call, email, or text message, and the more personalized it is to their needs, the more likely the sale will happen.
Customers need to feel appreciated. Basic courtesies like expressing your appreciation for their business and saying please and thank you can resonate positively with a customer. Once a customer is given this level of service, it becomes much easier to ask them to consider making a purchase. Appreciation can be built into recorded messages, scripts, and even in follow-up emails after a call has been completed.
Making a sale isn’t a one-time shot. It’s a process of nurturing a relationship over time and becomes more fruitful as trust and respect is built.
Call centers are the front line for many companies. It only makes sense to consider their vast sales potential. By taking the time to truly create a service and sales-driven caller experience, you may find an incredibly efficient and effective way to generate more revenue.
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About the Author
Adrian Miller is a business growth architect, sales consultant, trainer, and author. She launched her sales consulting business 26 years ago to help companies of all sizes improve their sales success. Learn more about Adrian Miller Sales Training.