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[February 28, 2005]

Cross-selling and Up-selling Existing Customers


Communications call centers are constantly looking for ways to enhance scripting techniques to segment and better target their customer base thereby improving the overall effectiveness of the analytical CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. All of the aforementioned generate qualified sales leads, up-selling frequent callers and match existing customers with expanding products lines.

According to Data Monitor - a leading market research group, this will invite additional spending in analytical CRM. Specifically in North America, where the possibility of further deregulation, and initiatives to encourage competition in telecom, will place a premium on customer retention. This increase in competition is also expected to contribute to vertical growth in the North American communications industry.

Current global call center revenues are estimated to be over $50B, and still growing due to trends in outsourcing. The benchmark organization study indicates that now, more than fifty-percent of all call centers as compared to only 10% in the past have shifted from cost to profit centers. This trend is expected to accelerate, the increased cross-selling and up-selling activities.

The Internet revolution has provided some call center companies to become customer-facing organizations. Strategies such as data mining, intelligent routing, and expert location are enabling more effective selling on inbound calls. This allows organizations the opportunity to expand their customer base, increase customer loyalties, better understand the value and life of its customers, and to identify new marketing opportunities.

There are two conditions, which are prevalent across all industries in the area of customer contact. First, technology has allowed call centers to manage operators more efficiently, thereby reducing the number of operators. For example, routine calls, 10% to 80% of inbound calls go to voice response systems. The system also sends 10% to 45% of customers/prospects to the Web.

In todays contact center, first-call resolution and incremental revenue are taking center stage. Whether you opt to train and retain the perfect agent for both tasks, or alternatively, to split the responsibilities between a tightly trained team - understanding the building blocks for each of these skills is the difference between success and costly inefficiencies. The profile of 2005's model contact center agent is quite different than that of yesteryear. With more channels and more challenging inquiries coming to bear, and support tools that are more complex agents and management's have evolved. You're looking at a profile of people not just with basic product knowledge, but also with a background in client management. For example:

Since customers will not have to call upon agents every time they have a request, there will be a decrease in the number of calls, making the service levels appear better. This could mistakenly lead you to take cost-cutting measures that are intended to prove more profitable, such as cutting down on staff, etc. But not so fast - how are your customers doing? Are promotional materials sent through the mail resulting in the purchase of new products and services? Or, are your customers establishing a relationship with another bank? If we can't retain and expand the value we bring to our current customers, we will surely feel it in financial results.

So let's take a step back and look at business opportunity! Consider a service-to-sales program the concept of which is to focus on your existing customers and re-kindle your relationships with them. Begin with a plan calling for inbound service representatives to make outbound calls in order to better manage accounts. This means building relationships. This personal contact will result in the expansion of products for some customers.

This is not cold calling. It is known as customer relationship management. Think both short and long term. Ask questions to define customer needs. Customers will buy only when they perceive a need. Recognize the need to use good listening, questioning and interpersonal skills. Recognize that upgrading can benefit the customer, the employee and the company. Listen for upgrade opportunities and learn how to identify buying signals.

Know what to ask for and how to close a sale. Learn to accept the fact that not every potential sales call will result in a sale. Learn to identify the best time to hand off and not lose a sale. Learn how to set realistic goals that will result in both sales and service success. Celebrate success and be sure to have fun.

An organization's contact center agents are often its customers' primary touch point. Yet somewhere along these agents became guardians of handle and hold times, rather than of the relationship between customer and corporation.

Driven by everything from sophisticated tools to highly competitive cost pressures, the role of the contact center agent is ever changing largely, to create more business value from a smaller, more highly skilled workforce. Do-not-call efforts, real-time analytics, and personalization tools are placing great pressure on contact centers to sell during any appropriate inbound contact. Fear of customer defection, in these trying economic times, has also increased the pressure to resolve, rather than deflect or redirect customer issues.

EagleACD clearly understands the importance of the revenue enhancement through cross-selling and up-selling. EagleACD offers CRM tools and intelligent routing to select the call routing applications that best meet companys specific needs. A company with a single, telephony-only contact center must apply different routing techniques and technologies than a company with a multi-site, multi-skill, multi-channel operation. Regardless of an organizations business requirement contemporary routing applications offer ways to build your bottom line.

Technological advances allow companies to do more with their labor dollars than ever before. EagleACDs virtual call center networks allow ad hoc teams to be created with at-home workers, from multiple sites, or from offshore locations. Web self-help and IVR not only offer more opportunities to resolve problems before they reach the contact center, but they provide invaluable sorting and routing assistance to the modern call center.

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