Cross selling in a digital age

The last time I visited a post office in London to buy some stamps, the counter clerk asked me if I was interested in some foreign currency, and home insurance. This attempt to upsell various products I had not asked for was quite crude and attempted without any knowledge of whether I would be interested in the additional products.

This ‘scatter-gun’ approach is often lampooned by comedians who bemoan the time we all spend in queues at shops or on the phone to a customer service centre, finally getting to speak to someone who tries selling something entirely unrelated to the reason for contact.

And deservedly so.

Operating and marketing in a digital environment, with information flows across the web, voice, and instant messaging creates a rich source of information for companies to mine. The most obvious example being Google, who make an enormous amount of money from ensuring the ads that appear on their site are linked to the searches you make.

That’s simple, and the ads are not begrudged because they are often very useful.

Cross or upselling to consumers using a website can be similarly intelligent. Imagine a situation where you are a telecoms firm selling phone handsets and communication packages. If you can place some logic around website behaviour then far better interventions can be made.

For example, how about triggering a note to an IM agent if someone is using the website and has compared three different phone handsets in the last 5 minutes? Probably an ideal time to pop up a chat window just asking if the consumer wants any expert help comparing handsets, and during that conversation about the way the consumer wants to use the phone, the agent can determine if there are other services that might be offered.

It’s simple and effective. Good cross selling should feel more like helpful advice than the forced selling of inappropriate products.
Postage Stamps

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