The Wrong Way to Turn a Customer Service Call Into a Sales Call
Time Warner can be a pretty good company when it comes to customer service.
In other respects, they suffer in a way that many brands do, by not knowing how their consumers use their products or relate to their brand. When this happens, the sales and customer service (#custserv) training are not up to par, and the results can end up rubbing a customer the wrong way.
This happened to me recently, with a brand that I don’t hate or like, but that I have had a level of comfort with, because it supplies me with a service I need at a really nice price point. It gets the job done — wireless connectivity for me and my house guests and neighbors.
Normally, when I get a human on the line at Time Warner, their staff has been — in the three months I’ve used their Internet services — cordial, friendly, and laced with great personalities. In my initial phone call with them, their professionalism is actually what sealed the deal for me, so I hired their services as my Internet provider.
But yesterday during my customer service call, the customer service rep says, “Let me ask you a question, though.”
Alert: I know this is about to be a sales pitch. It smells funny.
“Okay, what’s the question?” I ask.
“I’m just curious why you didn’t get the full service from Time Warner.”
Okay, stop. Right away I know I want to disengage. When a customer service professional / sales professional approaches me with “a question,” I am suspicious. I don’t like that these questions are often disguising the fact that I am about to be up-sold on a product.
When it comes down to the wire, what I would want a sales professional to do for me is to think with me about my lifestyle. Can he help me find progress in my life? Can he help me find some other service he can offer, which might enhance my life?
He might ask, instead, “Why do I use the Internet? Why do I “hire” Time Warner?”
The problem with the straight-up, “let me ask you a question, though” sales approach is that it’s working by the numbers. It’s coming from a very broad place.
The guy has probably had this conversation with hundreds of people, so he thinks he can assume what I will say, what I might belive, and how I might be made more useful to his sales quota numbers.
The problem with that is that I am sure by asking questions based on assumptions, and by asking questions based on assumptions, he has a whole backlog of information that is inaccurate. Broad assumption-based questions create faulty information.
I can feel this right away.
The conversation touches on the following, not necessarily in chronological order.
He asks me, “What about basic wi-fi coverage, so you can get wi-fi wherever you go?”
“But, I can get wi-fi wherever I go regardless of whether I have your service or not,” I say.
“Yeah, but that wi-fi is limited to cafes,” he says.
“Not true,” I say. “In some cities I work in, I can get it in the parks and throughout all the downtown areas.”
“Okay, that’s fair enough,” he says.
He tries out hooking me to a landline: “But what about a phone line?”
“I don’t use a phone. I have to cell phones, and they satisfy every need I have,” I say.
“Oh, wow, really?” he asks.
Why is he feigning surprise? I am sure he’s the same way. When was the last time he really sat down on the couch and picked up a phone wired to the wall?
He goes further.
“So let me ask,” he proffers. “What about TV?”
“I don’t watch TV,” I say. “I watch only video clips and I read books.”
“Oh, you’re a reader,” he says, sounding a little like a jest.
This is where I really lost my patience for this kind of talk and this kind of conversation. Yes, I read. Sorry about that!
TV holds no interest for me. He wouldn’t know that, because he didn’t ask about how I feel about TV, or what happens when I watch TV. He assumes I am like everyone else, and that everyone else is actually like everyone else — they are not.
A sales person should work from me to the product, not from the product to me. I care about me. I don’t care about wanting the product.
Sales pitches go wrong because the discovery process of the sales call is happening through the lens of the product.
Let’s assume –I know it’s not safe to assume, as I have already said — that I don’t care about the brand or the product, because I probably don’t.
Where do we need to go from here? We need to find something out about me.
What is my lifestyle? What do I like, what do i do?
If he asked this, he would be creating and generating a database exclusive to Time Warner customers and he would have a better idea of what I want.
I am sure he’s not trained this way. He won’t be. Because Internet services and add-ons are a bulk business. they are like gym memberships. Always Be Closing.
A sales person can say whatever he wants when the authority above him empowers him to do so. If the demands of the authority are sales, numbers, dollars, then that will be the focus of the sales call.
If it’s not, and it is instead loyalty, feelings, customer desires, then the conversation is different and more focused on keeping that customer interested.
And everyone has a tell. In the end, he really ruins it for me and for him. He reveals his “tell.”
“Well,” he says. “I just want to wish you a good holiday and the best to your family. And you know, you might get a phone call later asking you about my service today and you can tell them I was great, because I did a great job.” Or, something very close to this. He’s telling me to tell Time Warner how awesome he is.
Excuse me? Really?
No, I’m going to blog about it and hope that someone at Time Warner reads this, because if you want to be a really great sales person, or a customer service person, you don’t make a direct pitch about yourself.
You don’t try to get at me by talking product, product, product.