When is up-selling, upsetting?

  June 17, 2014       Martin Taylor

Up-selling quite often becomes a negative experience if the customer is not the centre and focus of the conversation. Here’s a quick blog by our customer engagement expert – Martin Taylor giving his view on the subject…

My real annoyance is that up-selling is changed to upsetting on Macs which actually got me thinking – is this more accurate than we thought? Odd, given that Apple is built on up and cross sell…

So, is up-selling, upsetting?
Let me first declare my bias towards up-selling across any media and customer touch-point. Personally, I have seen some really positive customer focussed up-selling initiatives. My wife managed a project a few years ago deploying a solution to drive up-sell in a service environment which yielded fantastic results in terms of revenue and customer satisfaction.
To drive the up-sell initiatives in your business, you need to consider the following questions:

  • Who should I up-sell to?
  • When is it appropriate?
  • What channels should I use?
  • Who determines the answers to the above questions?
  • How am I rewarded?
  • What tools can support my efforts?
  • How is the process measured and managed?
  • What additional skills do I need?

Clearly, this is a complex topic and the answers to the questions above will depend on several factors – the market you serve, the products and/or services you offer and what you know about your customers… etc.
The most important factor is what the customer situation is right now.

Just expanding on this point; what do you and your systems know about the customer situation?
1. Does the customer have an open case?
2. What score did you give last time they were serviced?
3. How long have they been a customer?
4. What is their relationship like with you?
5. Are they an advocate?
6. What is their value?
7. How well connected are they?

Surely, answers to some or all of the above would deliver significant benefits across the operation, deliver some real insight to inform effective up-selling opportunities and avoid the potential alienation of some of your customers?

So, can up-sell actually add demonstrable value to the customer experience?
I would argue that yes. If all the answers are aligned to the customer, up-sell can enhance the advisor and the customer experience and create genuine service advocates.

The challenge, as so often, is; what situation does the customer need to be in that makes it appropriate to up-sell?

If you are already asking yourself about the impact on average handling time and knock on queue length, you are missing the point and need to turn 180 degrees,  focus on the customer and build the operation appropriately. In the same way that trying to up-sell at inappropriate times and in inappropriate situations, this must be a challenge that is cognisant of the customer experience and not how the operation will be impacted.

A word of caution though, you must know your customers in order to fully leverage the up-sell opportunities – it’s key to up-sell and not upset…
I ran a quick straw poll around the office posing the question – “When was the last time you were up-sold to and was the experience a service enhancement or not?” I got a mixed bag in terms of a response which I guess goes to show that we tread a fine line between enhancing the service and alienating your customers. I think, unless we absolutely know our customer’s preference, that so long as common sense is used by the business rules and the customer service agents, then most customers will politely decline the offer.

Remember, Amazon have built their business on up-sell…

For guidance, please feel free to connect and we can discuss this and many other challenges in a meaningful way that is specific to your business. We have a wealth of experience in implementing Salesforce Service cloud projects and customer engagement initiatives.

As always, remember, the coffee’s on me…