Consider a 'Specialist' for Upsell, Cross-Sell Offers

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Imagine a quarterback so multitalented that he not only can throw a pass but receive it as well. Or imagine a running back who provides his own blocks.


This may be farfetched, but the point is that in many scenarios, a combination of skill sets and teamwork is required to achieve the greatest success.


This point conflicts with the tactical use of customer relationship management software combined with the theory of the "universal agent." Many users of ROI-based CRM initiatives claim that their applications failed to produce expected results. As a company making huge investments in a customer-focused culture, they should question the results of their application and say, "Show me the money!"


The money is easy to find once we understand the difference between cost centers and profit centers in the customer communication continuum.


In the cost center, services offered include basic customer service, with available upgrades to help desk and increasing levels of technical support. Though the knowledge base incorporated into CRM desktop applications does control cost escalations, callers sometimes need to be transferred to a specialist to resolve their specific problem.


In the profit center, the customer service agent is prompted by the CRM desktop application to make specific upsell and cross-sell offers that often are determined by the caller's history. This critical moment of transition from a customer's agenda to the business's agenda is the essence of CRM. This is the moment where real value can be harvested and share of wallet maximized. Should the quarterback be expected not only to throw a perfect pass but catch it as well?


To obtain the greatest return on every customer interaction, we have to make the right offer at the right time as well as have the best possible specialist handle the transaction. This presents businesses and outsourcers with a perfect chance to engage in a powerful and effective collaborative commerce strategy. The opportunities to add value to an incoming sales or customer service interaction are virtually unlimited. And transitioning customers, with their permission, to a "specialist" can drive immediate, continuous profit.


Partnering with an outsourcer that specializes in upsell, cross-sell, win-back and information-gathering transactions has many ancillary benefits. The entire investment is scalable, variable and incremental. Success can be measured easily and is always based on ROI. If viewed as a component of a CRM strategy, consider the value of collecting additional household data, filling the gaps in missing data or offering collaborative browsing Web site training as a required component of the transition interaction.


Some businesses may consider doing this in-house but the talk time involved per transaction affects the entire utilization curve at internal contact centers. As an outsourced function, there should be minimal drain on internal contact center and IT resources, as it is the vendor's responsibility to seamlessly handle all the components of the transitioned transactions.


Businesses can benefit many ways from the ability to transfer specific customers to an outsourced specialist. One example is in the hospitality industry for airline, hotel or rental-car customers. CRM analysis has revealed that customers who have loyalty cards have a higher yearly and lifetime value.


During the reservation call, the agent is instructed to note whether the caller has already enrolled in the program. If not, the agent can offer to transfer the customer to a waiting specialist, using an incentive-laden transitional statement.


Transfer works much better than the agent extending the conversation beyond cost and utilization control for various reasons. One is that even the best customer service agents do not consider themselves salespeople, and feel uncomfortable with anything resembling persuading a customer to do anything at all, even getting a new membership card.


The specialist confirms the incentive and handles enrollment of this customer. In addition, he can extend offers to other household members. An integrated outsource partner also will handle printing and distribution of any collateral material that is part of the transaction.


Effective teamwork between businesses and outsourcers will continue to grow in the future as the essential CRM transactions that deliver revenue are prioritized. The challenge for businesses is to find the best receiving corps for their star quarterbacks to complete passes to, and the challenge for vendors is to do far better at delivering quality receivers with consistent transactional capabilities.


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