Generating Sales at the Expense of Service, Satisfaction & Loyalty

There was a post in the Customer Service Reader that discussed declining Customer Satisfaction in the retail sector. Claes Fornell of the National Quality Research Center attributes the decline to companies pushing their staff to generate sales at the expense of service: “Too much pressure on staff to generate sales can have a detrimental effect on the quality of service that the staff is able to provide, which, in turn, has a negative effect on repeat buying. Since many retailers measure and manage productivity, but don’t usually have good measures of the quality of customer service [emphasis added], it seems possible that some companies put too much emphasis on productivity at the expense of service.”

We have been seeing this trend in call centers recently. We’ve seen a manager alter the weighting of his team’s QA scale so that the upselling component counted for over one-third of the CSR’s Overall Service score. The push for cross-selling and up-selling is on the rise, and companies are not always weighing the long-term effects that this can have on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Up-selling and cross-selling can be tremendous tools for revenue generation, but it is critical that companies measure their customer’s willingness to hear these offers. Even with customers who are open to hearing these offers, it is important that a customer’s issues and questions be resolved with exemplary soft skills before the offer is made. Without the resolution and soft skill components delivered prior to the sales pitch, the sales efforts will not be as effective and may serve to erode customer satisfaction and loyalty.

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Combat the Excuses of a Monotone CSR!

It’s a classic coaching situation. The CSR sounds like a monotone robot on Valium (kind of like Marvin the Paranoid Android in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for you sci-fi fans). You beg, you cajole, you implore the CSR to put a little inflection and enthusiasm in his voice. They usually give one of two excuses. Either they were having a bad day and couldn’t help it, or they can’t do it – “it’s just not me.” When I hear that, I always give the CSR this example:

Cracking Call Coaching’s Hard Nuts

Business CoachingIt was a classic moment. It was my first call coaching session with an agent who provided a service/inside sales function for his company. He came in, shut the door and exploded:

“I just want to say right now that this whole thing is a bunch of [expletive]. You don’t know my [expletive] job and there’s no [expletive] way in [expletive] you will make any difference in what I do.”

Great. Have a seat. Let’s get started. I was thinking to myself “with that attitude, I might just have to agree with the last bit of what you just said.”

These are the coaching sessions we dread and with good reason. Most call coaches are well-intentioned people who really want to see their team succeed, their customers satisfied, and their charges improve. Then there are people like this guy who can make the job a nightmare.

To be honest, there are people who I’ve coached through the years that simply were not teachable. They were angry and frustrated in life, they were not a good fit for their jobs, and the best move for them would be to another position. I believe there are nuts you won’t crack.

Yet, there are hard nuts you can crack. With people like the agent I just described, I’ve been able to succeed by finding out what really motivates them. I listen to them. I make small talk. I try to observe what it is that the person really wants. With some people its recognition, so I find the slightest improvement and hold them up before their peers/supervisor for their accomplishment. When I go from critic to fan in their eyes, their attitude changes. Others need to have a stake in the process. They want to lead. So, I make them their team’s “quality captain” and watch them go from critic to cheerleader. The guy I described above was motivated simply by greed. I found it kind of sad, but after listening to him rant for a while I said something like this:

“Look, I know you don’t believe in this whole process but give me a chance here. I know what your customers want (we did the reasearch). I can help you to deliver service that will make your customers love you. If they love you they will want to do more business with you. If they give you more business then you’re going to be more successful. You’ll exceed your sales goals and you’ll make more money.”

BINGO! He wasn’t an instant believer, but I at least had his interest. He’s still a pain to coach at times, but it’s gotten better. He’s actually improved and begun to employ the skills I’ve coached. The guy will never become a raving fan and will never admit that the QA process helped him. His pride won’t let him. That’s okay. We both know it’s true.