Don’t you think that the worst kind of sales process is when you get a cold call? You might be busy cooking the dinner and your phone rings – only for you to find that it’s an insurance company trying to sell a policy or a glazing firm offering a special deal on new windows.
Even today with do-not-call lists and the supposed sophistication of online marketing, there is a lot of this scattergun-type selling still about.
Customer service lines have for a long time been a great place to overcome many of these problems. The customer is calling you, they are happy to disclose their details because they want a problem resolved, so you know who they are, what they bought, when, and this leads to opportunities for cross and upselling.
This has been known for sometime. There was a time when every customer service conference featured lessons on turning a cost centre into a profit centre by upselling new products. But I think that we are now entering into slightly dangerous waters.
The traditional version of this – offering something to a customer who is already on the phone – worked well because a good agent can sense if the customer might be interested in buying a better service or switching to something else. The process allows for a human factor that can either clinch the sale, or quickly back off if the client is obviously not interested in buying during that call.
But now with social networks playing a greater role in customer services, where will the line be drawn? If a retailer has a page on Facebook displaying their products and a potential customer has clicked on ‘like’, then depending on how tightly the customer has set their security settings, there is an enormous amount of data available on that individual. Name, nationality, age, location, favourite movies, music, qualifications, employment history…
This knowledge can lead to better targeting of potential customers, or cross-selling with existing customers, but it seems almost certain that the up and cross sell process is going to be more tightly regulated because of these changes in the near future. Will regulation be enough to prevent the abuse of data customers seem only too willing to give away online?
Photo by Marc Falardeau licensed under Creative Commons