Customer service interactions can be a delicate matter for many companies when getting it wrong can quickly leave a loyal customer with a sour taste in their mouth.
Most of us have been on the receiving end of a poorly executed customer service experience. Whether it’s over the phone or in person, frustrating service can get even worse when combined with an equally bad suggestive selling pitch thrown into the mix.
Whether it’s a chance to upgrade your television service or a buy-one-get-one free deal at the checkout counter, scripted sales strategies tacked onto the end of customer service interactions are simply too transparent and obvious to customers who are coming to you to resolve an issue.
For many brands, customer service interactions can be one of only a few chances the company has to create a personal connection with the customer.
That’s why any suggestive selling strategy you put in place should always anticipate the needs of the customer and only suggest opportunities that help them solve the problem.
Here are three ways to stop turning customers red in the face and start giving them great service experiences they didn’t expect.
1. Listen First, Engage Second
If you haven’t added a suggestive selling strategy to your customer service approach because of the issues I just mentioned, it’s important to realize buyers actually appreciate being informed of offers that help them resolve an issue.
Simply put, suggestive selling isn’t about pushing promotions on customers who aren’t interested. It’s about showing shoppers your service team is aware of their needs, and is willing to take an active role in satisfying them.
To accomplish this, service associates need to listen. Forget the selling scripts and start actively paying attention to the needs that are going unmet––whether they talk about them or not.
Product suggestions should only be made when it serves to fill the gap your customer is struggling with.
2. Context Is Key To Making The Right Suggestion
Offering a product suggestion during a customer service interaction can be particularly difficult when it’s unclear whether or not it will be appropriate given the customer’s circumstances.
Keep in mind that selling is not the role of the service department––the needs of the customer should always come first. If, for instance, a customer is coming to you in state of total confusion, don’t make things even more complicated for them by bringing new suggestions into the conversation.
Trust is a key component of any suggestive selling strategy. As a rule of thumb, store associates should first build up this trust by solving the customer’s initial problems before offering further suggestions.
3. Make Sure Every Suggestion Provides Value
Pointing to products around the store isn’t selling. To be successful, you’ll need to demonstrate why your suggestion is valuable directly to shoppers.
You may have encountered this yourself if you’ve ever picked up a meal at a fast food restaurant. You order a medium beverage, but are reminded by the employee that for only a dollar more, you can double the size. On a hot summer day, the value is clear to a thirsty customer.
In the customer service department, this is all about communicating reliability and quality when the customer’s original purchase didn’t live up to expectations.
If a customer contacts customer service after a new shirt falls apart in the washing machine, the associate has an opportunity to show them why spending a little bit more on a different, higher quality shirt will ultimately give them more long-term value.
By shifting the goal of your selling strategy to focus on the customer rather than the sale, you’ll quickly see better selling results while giving customers a service experience that exceeded expectations.
Measure the revenue benefits of suggestive selling with our online Suggestive Selling Calculator, or download it right to your iPhone with the ICC ROI Calculator app. If you’re interested in finding out how a boost in your conversion rate can help your bottom line, try out our conversion calculator.