Can Care Agents Sell?

Annette Hickey, Head of Customer Operations for Vodafone and Board member of the CCMA explores the area of sales within customer care contact centres and shares her experience of training care agents to sell.

To do this successfully you must take the myth out of selling.  Selling is just another form of customer care, if it is the Right Product to the Right Customer at the Right time.

Vodafone worked with a training company (Harvest) who built a bespoke training programme for Vodafone, "Leading the Way", which subsequently won best training award at the 2010 Irish Contact Centre  & Shared Servces Awards.  I did find when we introduced sales to front line care a couple of years ago that it wasn't for everybody, so you have to be prepared for that, but the vast majority, with the right training, made the transition quite easily.

The training needs to:

  • Build confidence
  • Provide a step by step approach to the call flow and
  • Make it easy, less daunting for agents.  

Setting the targets is important, like all targets they need to be stretching but achievable, obvious but true.  If I learnt anything through this process it was to take baby steps and build on it. Start with grand number 200 sales in the call centre today, and distil that down to individual levels.  Make it practical, 2 sales in the morning per person and two in the afternoon.  Try on every call. Then pull out some sales calls from the call recording and share them among the teams, so they can pick up tips from their peers.  Measurement and the ability to track sales to individuals to recognise success and to focus further training effort on those who are struggling is vital.  I didn't reward to any great extent, small monitory commission, but only because this was legacy.  My preference would have been to have a quarterly bonus on the achievement of all targets, reward the group effort. The not so surprising but worth mentioning fact is that the customer feedback scores increased, because the products were tailored to solving their particular issue. What has your experience been?  Please leave a comment below.