Treat Complaints As An Opportunity For Cross-Selling & Upselling

In this blog, James Clark muses why banks find it so difficult to handle complaints.

As products and services are becoming more complicated, complaints about them are getting increasingly trickier to convey, understand and resolve. On the other hand, cryptc n SMS / IM style of comms reglrly adpted by both sides is aggrvtng d prob.

In a recent blog post, I shared a few examples from my personal experience of how complaints were handled by banks and other companies.
http://sketharaman.com/blog/2010/11/21/how-humanlike-are-virtual-agents-part-2/
In the final analysis, it appeared that virtual agents could supplant lower-end call center staff for handling many types of complaints.
However, while there’s no scarcity of process knowledge, training or technology to improve the complaints handling process, I doubt if this is a high priority area for too many banks and other companies (barring a few exceptions like Zappos.com, which have superior customer service enshrined in their corporate charter). When resources are scarce, is it any surprise that complaints department is not exactly the first in line to receive funding for new initiatives?
By treating the complaints resolution process as opportunities for upselling or cross-selling additional products and services, banks might be able to find the justification required to secure additional funding for their new initiatives in this space. Depending upon their internal culture and customer profile, while some can afford to do this brazenly whereas others might have to be subtle about it, this appears to be one pragmatic approach of bringing about a sea change in this area.

In a recent blog post, I shared a few examples from my personal experience of how complaints were handled by banks and other companies.  In the final analysis, it appeared that virtual agents could supplant lower-end call center staff for handling many types of complaints.

However, it’s not the lack of process knowledge, training or technology that is preventing improvements in the complaints handling process. Quite frankly, I doubt if complaints handling is on the boardroom agenda for many banks and other companies – barring a few exceptions like Zappos.com, which have superior customer service enshrined in their corporate charter. When resources are scarce, is it any surprise that customer service executives are not exactly the first in line to receive funding for new initiatives in their departments?

We believe that, in the modern world, a different approach is called for if the status quo around complaints handling has to change.

Players in banking, financial services, telecom and e-tailing could start treating various stages in the complaints resolution process as discrete opportunities for cross-selling or upselling their products and services. With this approach, they might be able to garner the justification needed for elevating complaints handling to the C-Suite and secure the additional funding required to initiate new projects for its improvement. We recognize that, depending upon their internal culture and customer profile, some companies can afford to do this brazenly whereas others might need to be more subtle about it. However, style notwithstanding, this could be the most pragmatic approach for bringing about a sea change in handling complaints, enhancing customer satisfaction and bolstering customer advocacy.

2 Responses to “Treat Complaints As An Opportunity For Cross-Selling & Upselling”

  1. GTM360 says:

    UPDATE:

    As the following incident indicates, relevance is very important while treating complaints handling as an opportunity for cross- and upselling. Otherwise, companies risk having their brands tarnished.

    http://www.retailsystemsresear

    Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research

    “… the handle on my refrigerator broke … . (I) was able to find the part easily enough online, … I decided it was worthwhile to pay for a service call. I dialed the 800 number for the retailer/manufacturer … The script this customer service rep followed was about getting me to buy insurance on my refrigerator.”

  2. sketharaman says:

    UPDATE:

    AmEx has elevated customer complaint resolution to the next level. Going beyond cross-selling and upselling, AmEx’s customer service czar Jim Bush treats every customer interaction as an opportunity for “building relationships”. 

    How can American Express help you?
    http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2012/04/19/american-express-customer-service/