The more communication I have with people involved in telephone service and sales, such as Contact/Call Centers and Customer Service Departments, the more amazed I become at the reluctance to create more sales and profit opportunities through better interaction with current customers, reactivation of lost accounts and new business acquisition.
Companies are forever seeking ways to cut costs and reduce staff – particularly so in Call/Contact Centers (turning so many into ‘Call ‘n’ Wait’ disaster zones) – they often fail to see what rewards they can achieve by using the following formula:
1 humble telephone + 1 skilled operator + 1 established sales system = HUGE PROFITS!
Here are twelve ideas that can dramatically improve your bottom line RESULTS build greater customer RELATIONSHIPS and earn you (a company of any size and industry) more REVENUE.
1. Build the loyalty of your current customers
A ‘no brainer’ right? Why is that so many customers cannot get through to you, when it suits them?
Why are you constantly offering free incentives and reduced prices to gain new business?
CRM is meant to be the new service elixir. Well it is worth nothing if you don’t listen to your customers.
Here’s an example – in the last six months or so, a metropolitan daily newspaper has offered ten-week subscriptions for $39.90 (I pay more and have subscribed for 20 years), contests (win wine if you subscribe, see a rock group in concert!) and give-aways to induce new subscribers. Me, I get some sort of special club membership with the odd discount or special offer. But hey, so do the new subscribers! Who’s ahead?
2. Gain referrals from current customers
The cost of losing customers is almost incalculable. Add to that the people they tell about their bad experiences and the people they never refer to you.
Instead, offer your current customers a total strategy of satisfaction and benefits. Then, encourage them to tell others.
Don’t reward these referred customers (but do give them total satisfaction and benefits). Do reward your current customer for their referral. Develop a system that will encourage customers to tell friends, family, their customers and associates about you and then say ‘thank you’ or offer them something of value for their efforts.
3. Add VALUE to every sale
Here is a really simple equation: If you give value – you get more sales.
That’s it. If your people are trained to offer advice and information, educate customers, offer them creativity and innovation then your customers will buy more products and services, more often.
Even if your prices are slightly higher. This was the IBM way, back in the 60’s and 70’s with some great lessons to be learned. IBM charged the steepest prices in the industry but their service and support was legendary. The phrase ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM’ originated way back then.
4. Turn an enquiry into a prospect
Then, turn that prospect into a customer. Then turn that customer into an advocate, one of your company’s ‘raving fans’.
All you need are trained people, a system and a monitoring and measuring plan. Simple? Yes it is, and like all things mentioned in this article, I will bet that some of your people excel at this and a number of them perform basic courtesies with callers – and that’s it.
5. Create an upsell program
One becomes two. Two becomes four. Four becomes … greater than the GDP of Argentina.
It is so simple, easy and effective and so few organisations employ this strategy. Many of your people don’t do this because they think the additional cost will put the customer off. It doesn’t. Not if the customer actually sees the benefit of greater quantity or improved quality.
6. Cross-sell at every opportunity
What can your people add on the original purchase? Extended warranty, on-site service, insurance, a savings if they purchase an additional item(s), a special offer or other options?
If everyone in your organisation upsold and cross-sold at every given opportunity, your sales would soar. I have witnessed increases of between 15-45% in companies where a simple upsell/cross-sell strategy was installed.
7. Negotiate on price
Don’t just offer a discount or ‘best price to you’. Let me reiterate, if you give value – you get more sales. Negotiate price. Train your people that by dropping price, they are giving away margin. So, if you offer a discount negotiate an upsell and/or cross sell. Package or bundle your offer to make it attractive and a genuine customer benefit.
8. Follow up
Every time your people give a quote, send a proposal or brochure out via fax, mail or e.mail, they should record a follow up timeframe.
Between one hour and three days. Everyone who requests information should be followed up by telephone. This leads to a higher close or conversion rate (I have witnessed 20-50%) or, if they have purchased elsewhere – your follow up call may be the commencement of a relationship … or not. But you won’t know if you don’t follow up.
This rule should also be applied to complaint management. Most companies have no follow through with people who have complained.
9. Adopt a ‘keep in touch’ program
What can you do for your customers that will allow you to contact them on a planned, regular basis?
Special offers, new product or service introductions or …? The best forms of ‘keep in touch’ are e.mail combined with a regular phone call.
But be warned – you should have a purpose for every call you make or email you send. Don’t just bombard your customers (and prospects) with garbage.
10. Develop a systematic approach to lost customer reactivation
The longer you fail to make or maintain contact, the likelier you are to lose customers forever.
If you check the most recent contact vs previous contact frequency, you can detect a lost or about to be lost customer. Do something to regain their business.
This is the most costly part of your operation – the lost customer, the lost referral.
Do you have a lost customer reactivation plan?
11. Gain new customers
Why are there so few high quality telemarketing divisions in companies? Certainly, the ‘T’ word is considered dirty and grubby in some quarters and indeed it can be. However, where you have trained professionals, comprehensively developed objectives and strategies why wouldn’t a well run telemarketing campaigns gain new business and new relationships for your organisation?
Quality telemarketing will generate leads, open up new business channels/market segments, build business with small, marginal and distance customers, give you real value (as a follow up) from exhibitions and seminars.
This is one of the most under utilised resources for business acquisition (and reactivation).
12. Develop and work your system
Success will come in all of the previously mentioned guidelines, tips and hints if you adopt a systematic approach. That is:
a) A sales and service oriented contact management system, based on a quality CRM package.
b) Well trained people who consistently add value to and gain value from every call they take or make.
c) Monitoring, Measuring and Reviewing each of the above and seeking continuous improvement both in contact management and people skills.
It is simple and what’s more, it works. Use the power of the humble telephone (and quality people) wisely, and you will gain great RESULTS: Relationships and Revenue.