Sales as Service?

A few days ago I got a call from the domain registrar I usually use. The call started off as a “Hi, I’m calling from –company- and want to make sure you aren’t having any problems.” I said that everything was okay and the guy was very nice and said he was glad that there were no problems and that everything was okay.

Then, the sales pitch started and I realized how ignorant I had been. He said “You know, your subscription to –service- is expiring soon, did you want to renew it?” I said, “Nope.” and in fairness to the company, he didn’t hassle me at all. He cancelled the subscription and it saved me the time and hassle of trying to find out how.

Then, the representative (sales and support, I suppose) moved on to tell me about other things I had that were going to expire soon. He offered me a slight discount and I took it. I renewed some of the things I knew I’d be renewing eventually anyway and saved some money.

The call was fairly quick (under 10 minutes) and the company definitely profited from it. Do I agree that it’s right to disguise a sales call as a customer satisfaction call? Not really, but it does seem to be fairly effective.

If you want to do something like this for your company, here are some tips.

Have people who can fix things too.
That is not having people who just sell things – they also need to be able to fix things. If I said “Yeah, no one responded to my support email from a week ago.” the representative hopefully would have been able to address that. It is important to make sure that your call is still effective as a customer satisfaction call.

Have people who can sell.
But make sure they aren’t obnoxious. The representative I spoke to had his slightly “too pushy” moments, but after a time or two of me not responding well to them, he figured out it wasn’t the way to sell me. Make sure your sales people can take a no or it’ll turn into a “sales harassment” call.

Give them power to do things.
The representative I spoke to had no access problems and therefore didn’t have to shuffle me around to different departments. He was able to check the status of a coupon code I knew of, check on my renewals, cancel a service I didn’t need, and pretty much anything that I needed. Don’t make it so the person calling can’t do things that they very well may be asked to do. This will not only inconvenience the customer, but really reduce the chances they’ll buy anything.

Get it right.
If the representative says the domain unimportant.com will be renewed for 1 year, make sure it is. Same thing if the representative says the subscription to such and such a service will be cancelled, make sure it is. If it isn’t done (but is promised), that’ll turn into a customer service disaster.

Send a confirmation.
After the phone call, send a confirmation of what happened during the conversation. What was renewed, what was cancelled, etc. That way, if there are future problems, the customer has a record of what was supposed to be done, but perhaps wasn’t.

Don’t ask for personal information.
If your company is making an unsolicited call to a customer, do not ask for personal information. Many customers will not feel comfortable giving out too much personal information to an unsolicited caller that says he or she is from a certain company (which may or may not be true).
Note: I wrote this post yesterday morning. I then got caught in something, saved it as a draft, and forgot to publish it. Sorry about that! There will be another post today as well.

One Response to “Sales as Service?”

  1. Starbucker said:

    Jul 27, 06 at 11:41 am

    Doug, we make customer satisfaction calls and I’ve made a point not to turn it into a sales call, unless the customer starts asking product-related questions (i.e. “I’ve heard you are selling X now -what’s that about”). I think people are just really ultra-sensitive these days to phone pitches (I know I am). I never want to turn a positive into a negative. Thanks, and all the best.