How to Use Your Contact Center to Increase Sales

By Geoffrey James

The interactions that take place every day in your customer service contact center can do more than just ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. They also can help your company generate more revenue. Here are four strategies to make this happen.

Strategy 1: Aggressively mine your customer service data. Use your customer service data to pinpoint and capitalize on specific sales opportunities. With the right tools you can uncover a wide range of opportunities, including accessories, add-ons, up-sells, cross-sells, service contracts, training and so on. You don’t have to retrain your customer service staff or modify existing contact center processes to mine the data. Customer service simply provides the raw data that other departments use to initiate and fulfill the sales cycle.

For example, a customer calls a software company with a technical question. While gathering the information needed to solve the problem, the customer service representative notes that the customer is using an obsolete version of the software. At the end of the month the company sends a special upgrade offer to every customer who called in and was found to be using an old version of the software.

Strategy 2: Launch context-sensitive online promotions. Customers often look for answers to their questions on your company’s Website. The Web self-service channel has become extremely popular as companies do a better job of making answers easily accessible online. When customers ask questions online they also provide companies with clues about the products and services they need.

For example, a power tool company gets questions from customers about working with specific types of materials. As support reps answer such questions online they inform the customers about specific tools or attachments specifically designed for those materials and offer the products at a discount.

Strategy 3: Generate real-time leads and referrals. Take advantage of the information customers provide your agents during service interactions. Based on the content of the service call, identify attributes that qualify customers as sales leads for additional products or offers. Then have your sales organization act on those leads.

For example, have your service reps ask questions such as: May I have someone call you about Product X? May we send you some information on Product Y, along with a coupon that’s worth $40 if you make a purchase within the next 90 days? If the answer is yes, capture the lead and route it to a salesperson for follow-up. Ideally your CRM software automatically forwards these leads to your sales or marketing group and initiates the appropriate sales automation workflow.

Strategy 4: Have customer service reps complete transactions. This strategy is particularly appropriate for impulse buys. For example, an appliance manufacturer flags all customers whose service contracts expire in the next 60 days. Whenever these customers call with a question, customer service representatives ask them if they want to extend their contract.

Many cell phone companies have implemented a process by which customer service agents up-sell customers who have gone over their allotted monthly minutes to a higher-end calling plan. This actually can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty while it locks in higher revenue for the company. For this strategy to work, service reps must have the necessary offer and qualification information on their desktops and might require complete sales scripts.

The above is based on a white paper by Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder of RightNow Technologies, Inc., a leading CRM solutions vendor. The full white paper and additional useful information can be found at