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Our contact center agents in customer service and technical support are being asked to up-sell and cross-sell. How do we help them become comfortable with this change and be effective?

Question:

Our contact center agents in customer service and technical support are being asked to up-sell and cross-sell. How do we help them become comfortable with this change and be effective?

Answer:

Agents in traditionally “non-sales” contact center roles are frequently asked to sell, due to evolving customer experience standards. Although a business may consist of separate contact center roles and departments for sales, customer service, technical support, etc., customers increasingly expect any and every employee to be able to address all their concerns, without requiring them to traverse internal company silos or be transferred among departments.

Here are some best practices to help your agents be successful as they acclimate to their new responsibilities:

  • Training – An effective sales training course should teach agents to recognize a sales opportunity and segue from a non-sales issue into a sales interaction. The training should include thorough instruction in product features, customer benefits, sales techniques, communication skills, and how to overcome customer objections. If training is available in an eLearning format, allow employees to review it after the initial training session to increase their confidence and comfort levels.
  • Quality assurance and coaching – Quality assurance and coaching efforts should focus on interactions with up-sell/cross-sell opportunities. Using speech and/or text analytics to identify these contacts automatically saves time and enables review of a far larger sample size, often up to 100% of contacts.
  • Next-best action or real-time agent guidance – Today’s real-time speech analytics and desktop analytics solutions frequently include next-best action recommendations or real-time agent guidance, based on the conversation or desktop activity. These capabilities increase agent confidence in making an up-sell or cross-sell suggestion.
  • Knowledge base – Having easy access to up-to-date, comprehensive and concise resources, e.g., product information, pricing, features, availability, etc., helps agents sound (and feel) knowledgeable, prepared and capable.
  • Reasonable expectations – Agents who haven’t been in sales roles before or lack confidence in their ability to sell are likely to feel apprehensive or uncomfortable. Setting reasonable and attainable expectations that ramp up over time helps ease these concerns.
  • Rewards and recognition – The addition of sales responsibilities can be a gratifying experience in many ways. Recognize, communicate and reward the right behaviors, performance improvements and sales attainment.

Enabling contact center employees to better handle “universal agent” responsibilities is a win for customers and enterprises alike. Training agents in these multi-skill capabilities enhances the customer experience, increases first contact resolution rates, and ensures that value-added products and services are consistently being offered to customers.