Cable customer contact centers transition service to sales with an emotional connection

By Bob Davis

Imagine the typical exchange between an agent in a cable company’s customer contact center and a subscriber who has called in with a billing question.

Agent: “It will be my pleasure to help you with your billing questions! While my computer pulls up your account information, may I ask, what is your favorite cable program?”

Subscriber: “You’re going to laugh, but it’s ‘Billy the Exterminator.’ I have gotten addicted to that show!”

At this point, the agent and the subscriber have a little laugh together, and in so doing they form an emotional connection. This is the beginning of what I call The Quality Conversation, an interaction that has the potential to become not only service delivered (the question answered) but also a new sale.

Of course it is possible today for a subscriber to have a satisfactory customer service experience without having an emotional connection with the agent. Often companies use technology to automate transactions, getting the job done without any kind of interaction between two human beings. Some might argue that this gets the job done effectively, and that an emotional connection really isn’t necessary.

But virtually every service call is an opportunity to transition to a sale, provided that the caller interacts with an agent who makes an emotional connection through The Quality Conversation. The challenge is that doing so requires proper training and coaching for the agents.

For the last 10 years, my company—Robert C. Davis and Associates (RCDA)—has provided training and coaching to empower agents to have Quality Conversations, and the results in revenue growth and customer retention for our client companies have been truly exceptional.

For example, using RCDA’s Quality Conversation approach to sales, an authorized reseller for major cable companies increased its closing ratio by 13 percentage points and its multi-product sales by 14 percentage points.

What is The Quality Conversation? I define it as a meaningful and mutually rewarding dialog that occurs when a person takes and clearly conveys a genuine interest in another individual’s wants, interests and needs. It goes beyond building rapport to make an emotional connection and establish real trust. And The Quality Conversation is essential for any cable company that wants to transition service calls into sales via its customer contact center.

Now it is true that many providers handle routine service calls online or through interactive voice response (IVR). This makes it even more important for your agents to be able to have Quality Conversations with customers, because the calls that come through to agents involve more complex issues that are more difficult to handle. On these calls, establishing an emotional connection with the customer is essential for there to be any real chance of transitioning service calls to sales.

Let’s look at the elements of The Quality Conversation:

  • An enthusiastic greeting with an assurance of help.
  • Full discovery. This allows the agent to fully understand the customer’s situation and the products and services the customer currently uses. It also gives the agent with enough knowledge about the customer’s situation to discuss additional products and services the company offers that will benefit the customer. The agent can dig deeper into existing offerings and broaden the conversation to include other valuable products and services that are likely to interest the customer.
  • Genuine interest. Throughout the call, the agent shows a genuine interest in the customer, and this reaches right through the phone line to form that emotional connection.
  • Customized solution. By listening to the customer’s wants, interests and needs, the agent learns enough to present a customized solution—the best match of products and services for that customer’s situation.

Using The Quality Conversation approach and making the emotional connection during the call establishes a strong rapport with the customer, who as a result is much more likely to accept the agent’s recommended solution. In other words, the close becomes virtually automatic.

While it is true that companies such as Amazon and Netflix offer competitive products that are appealing to cable subscribers, The Quality Conversation uncovers programming preferences like “Billy The Exterminator.” It reveals to the agent and the customer how the cable company offers the best value, the widest and deepest range of products and services, and the highest level of satisfaction. And it is a proven approach—with the power of an emotional connection—that will transition service to sales on call after call.

Bob Davis is the president of Robert C. Davis and Associates (www.robertcdavis.net), a consulting firm in Alpharetta, Georgia, specializing in improving sales, customer service and retention results in customer contact centers across North America. Bob is also co-founder of Surpass (www.surpasscalls.com), a highly specialized outsource customer contact center serving the needs of business clients across the country.