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  • 8/19/2019 Persuading CustomerSupport to Sell by Olark




    by Sunir Shah, Chief Marketing Olarker


  • 8/19/2019 Persuading CustomerSupport to Sell by Olark


    Table of


    Intro  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3

    Ryan and the no-good, very bad

    experience with Comcast   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4

    Customer Support is not Sales   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6nFunction


    7 ways to persuade Customer Support to sell   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9n1. Make it easy for a customer to contact Support 

    n2. Make it easy for customers to contact Support in the right place

    n3. Empower your Support team to answer sales objections

    n4. Empower your Support team to answer billing questions

    n5. Give Support the power to customize a conversation

    n6. Make it easy to hand off a hot lead

    n7. Automate the opening

    Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   15



  • 8/19/2019 Persuading CustomerSupport to Sell by Olark



    We've all seen it happen: a visitor on your site is lost. They're looking forsomething but they're not exactly sure where to nd it, or whether it's

    even something you carry.

    They start a chat with your Support team, or send an email (these start

    something like, "I'm not sure if you're the right person or not…") and in

    the course of talking they decide to buy something in your store.

    A sale has guratively fallen in your lap. Aside from your Support stang

    costs, no additional money was spent to acquire that customer.

     "That was easy!" you think.

     "We should do that more often!" says your business partner.

    You're both right. It is easy, and you should do it more often, but there's a

    right way and a wrong way to get customer Support to sell more.

    In this book, I'm going to show you the wrong way to get customer

    Support to sell, explain why it's wrong, and then give you some tips on

    the right way to 'persuade' customer Support to sell.

    Here's the quick TL;DR – Support doesn't want to 'sell.' More accurately,

    they don't want to be salespeople. Like Liam Neeson in the movie 'Taken,'

     your Support team has a very particular set of skills, skills they have

    rened over many, many customer interactions.

    If you can understand these skills and where they are needed in the

    customer experience, then you can 'persuade' Customer Support to sell.

    But first, let's start with a story about the wrong

    way to persuade Customer Support to sell.



  • 8/19/2019 Persuading CustomerSupport to Sell by Olark



    EXPERIENCE WITH COMCASTIn 2014, Ryan Block – recently with AOL and one of the founding editors of Engadget  – called

    Comcast to cancel his service.

    As you know, Comcast is a huge company. They have their Customer Support agents go through

    days of training to teach them how to not only help customers, but also to upsell customers.

    Here is the template Customer Support agents at Comcast used to sell more. It seems pretty

    reasonable on face value.

    The basics are there: introduce yourself > get to know the customer > learn about the problem >

    solve the problem > transition to a sales offer > overcome objections > make the close > summarize

    the decision > document the next steps.



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    Of course things don’t always go like this in reality and Ryan Block did something unique.

    He recorded his call with Comcast and put it on the Internet. To date it’s been replayed over six

    million times.

    It's horrendous. It's really bad.

    In this case, Comcast really wanted to stop Ryan from cancelling his subscription. The agent gotbelligerent and refused to cancel Ryan's service, even though he was polite, rm and repetitive,

    saying, “I just want to cancel my service, will you do that?”

    The agent responds with, “No, rst I want to know why you want to cancel your service. Why don’t

     you want to have the fastest Internet in the United States? You’ve been using us for nine years and it's

    been working great, so there must be something wrong with you. I just want to know, I want to know

    how to save your account."

    Spoiler alert: ultimately the agent refuses to cancel the account. Eight minutes go by and basically

    Ryan is forced to 'show his hand' and admit that he's recording the conversation. The rest is history.

    After this audio clip went viral and millions of people heard it, a lot of stories came out of Comcast’s

    Customer Support team. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of Customer Support agents spoke out about

    what life was like inside Comcast. One article on The Verge features 'confessions' from current and

    former employees about life at Comcast. Another article is titled, " Now everyone is recording their

    nightmare Comcast calls. " You can imagine what that's about.



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    Here's what lead to this one very bad interaction, and the avalanche of bad PR around it: Comcast

    measured its Customer Support agents as – I kid you not – Revenue Generating Units.

    Reps were given upsell quotas to generate revenue. Ifthey didn’t meet the quotas they were reprimanded,

    punished, and quite often terminated.

    Very likely, the Comcast program started with,

     "Ask the customer to buy something and see

    what happens." Eventually it escalated to “Ask the

    customer to buy something. Then ask them again

    and then ask them again and make sure you get

    the sale.”

    Over time this lead to a terrible customer

    experience because, in the words of Mark Pavlic,

    former customer account executive at Comcast,

     "The customer is calling in to tell you what’s wrong,

    and you’re looking for ways to sell them service." 

    What a huge breakdown and mismatch in

    expectations. They were thinking of Customer

    Support as Sales.

      The customeris calling in to

    tell you what’swrong, and

     you’re lookingfor ways to sellthem service.

    – Mark Pavlic, former

    customer account

    executive at Comcast

    CUSTOMER SUPPORT IS NOT SALESCustomer Support and Sales teams are fundamentally dierent in function and mindset.

    Let's explore these before we move into actionable steps for persuading Support to sell.

    FunctionThere are three popular buying processes that have stood the test of time: Lewis' Purchase Funnel;John Dewey's Buying Decision Process; and Everett Rogers' Innovation Adoption Process.



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    I have combined them because it's like a snapshot of how every customer buys no matter whether

    they’re buying a tube of toothpaste or buying a car. It also becomes obvious where Support and

    Sales are most useful:

    1. Need / want. Customer feels an unfullled need, innately or through your persuasion.

    2. Attention. Customer attention is acquired – they’re in your store or on your website.

    3. Matching / Searching. Customer is searching for something. Do you have it?

    4. Interest. Something you're selling catches the customer's eye.

    5. Objections. The customer wants you to convince them everything is going to be ok.

    6. Engagement / Desire. Customer is sold in their heart and mind. Congratulations!

    7. Action. How does the customer actually buy it? (a.k.a. The checkout process.)

    8. Fulfillment. How does the customer actually get it?

    9. Evaluation. Customer compares whether product is what they thought it would be.

    10. Satisfaction. Customer got what they bought and it is what they thought.

    11. Repeat customer. Customer comes back to you to buy something again in the future.

    12. Referral.  Customer feels condent recommending you to their friends because you met or

    exceeded expectations.

    In this buying process, think of the relationship between Sales and Support like a spear.

    Sales is the spearhead of growth and support is the shaft. 

    The Sales team cuts through to the heart of your customers to generate a need within your target

    audience (stage 1) or capture their attention (stage 2).

    The Support team is the weight, inertia and momentum of the spear that carries a potential

    customer through stages 3 to 10. These are the stages where a potential customer is likely to reach

    out to Support with a sales related question, typically either a product or fulllment question (I'll

    talk about these more later).

    Sales Support



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    A spearhead on its own – all interest and no follow-through – isn't eective. Nor is the spear shaft

    eective by itself – great service for a product no one knows about. The two must work together.

    Sales brings you the customer. Support helps fulll a customer's interest and escort them throughto completion and, quite possibly, a repeat sale in the future.

    MindsetCompanies think (incorrectly) that Customer Support should sell because Support is constantly

    talking to customers and anyone talking to customers should sell more.

    Customer Support can sell, they just want to do it in their own way.

    Let's compare Sales and Customer Support side-by-side to get a better understanding of how the

    two prefer to work:

    (This is based on an informal survey I conducted through conversations,

    and several dozen articles and social media posts.)

    Support wants the customer to initiate the conversation so they can be responsive and helpful. Rather

    than persuade a customer to try something, they want to "x a problem", i.e. help a customer nd

    something, answer a question about a product, or guide them through check out. Support prefers

    cooperation between the brand and customer, not competition to get customers in the door.

    Support doesn't want to create new sales opportunities, and they shouldn't be expected to. That's

    why the Comcast model was awed.

    However, there are plenty of places you can position Support so they are in the right place at the

    right time to help complete a sale.

    Sales Teamn How they work:  'Build relationships'

    with 'prospects and leads' 

    n When:  Before the sale

    n  Goal: Close deals

    n  Traits: Persuasive, engaging,

    empatheticn  In one word:  "Competitive" 

    CustomerSupport Team

    n How they work:  'Complete

    transactions' with 'customers' 

    n  When: After the sale

    n  Goal:  Resolve tickets; Fix problems

    n Traits: Helpful, responsive, friendlyn   In one word:  "Cooperative" 



  • 8/19/2019 Persuading CustomerSupport to Sell by Olark


    7 WAYS TO PERSUADE CUSTOMERSUPPORT TO SELLCustomer Support can contribute to your sales if you "persuade" them.

    I'm using persuade in quotes because you're not literally convincing them to sell; rather, you're using

    tools and tricks to deliver customers who are ready to buy to your Support team, so Support simply

    has to be helpful, responsive, and friendly to close a sale.

    Here are some ways to make that happen:

    1. Make it easy for a customer to contact Support

      “The presence of a live chat feature alone was an aid for customers while they were purchasing. It alleviated the worr y of not havi ng acces s to Support should the need aris e.

    Olark increased our conversion rate by 4.5% within a 95% degree of confidence. ”

    – Tzvi Balbin, Founder, Userlicious  ( Read the full article )

    This is perhaps the easiest x, and the rst step in your persuasion. This may seem obvious, but

     you'd be surprised how many companies bury their contact information. Don't!

    If customers can't reach your Support team, then your Support team never has a chance to respond

    to customers.

    Have a friend or, better yet, a less-technical family member review your site and see if they cangure out how to contact you. If they can't, look for ways to make it more obvious - put your

    Support phone number on every page, move your 'contact' link out of the footer, or maybe add

    Olark Live Chat to your site.

    If a customer can get answers with minimal eort, they're less likely to walk away from a purchase.

    2. Make it easy for customers to contact Support in the right place

      “Ez Texting put an Olark chat widget on the [sign up form] and . . . they managed to increase signu ps by 31%. The chat widge t was strat egica lly plac ed so that if a user has any doubtsbefore making a successful signup, he could ask it on the live chat widget.”

    – Paras Chopra, Founder, Wingify ( Read the full article )

    When you're evaluating where your contact information is listed on your site, make a list of the

    places where a customer has to make a commitment or might have a sales objection. This is where

    the rubber meets the road and sales are won or lost.



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    Here's a simple tip: because customers actively want to talk to your sta during checkout, put a call

    to action directly in the main ow to contact you. Wingify mentions adding it to their sign-up form.

    Apple does a great job of asking for chats pervasively through their online experience:

    (Every Apple MacBook product listing has a prominent call to chat.)

    (even on the checkout page Apple maintains clear CTAs for contacting Support)

    Doing this allows Support to be in the right place at the right time to overcome sales

    objections and ensure a customer can purchase with confidence.



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    3. Empower your Support team to answer sales objections

    I know what you're saying: "But Sunir, if Customer Support doesn't want to do sales, why insert

    them before the sale?" Good question.

    A majority of questions at a point of sale fall into two categories:

    n  Fulfillment questions –  These are questions about shipping, returns, and payment options –

    technical issues related to completing a purchase and receiving the product.

    n  Product questions –  These are questions (read: doubts) about the product or service the

    customer is buying.

    Support will naturally have fast answers to these types of questions making this an easy win for

    Support in the sales process.

    You can take this one step further and ask your Customer Support team to create a sales journal, either

    individually or as a team. This will help them with answers to questions beyond fulllment and product.

    A sample 'journal' entry could include:

    nThe specific sales questions and objections

    nHow often they arise

    nAt what stage, or on what page, do they arise

    nSummary of successful (and unsuccessful) answers

    (Ultimately, you'll want to take what you've learned from these most common sales questions and optimize

    the FAQ section on your site, which will make life a little easier for both your Support and Sales teams.)

    4. Empower your Support team to answer billing questions

      “Our customer service team not only sells by phone, chat and email, but completes the full

    cycle including billing using Zuora inside Salesforce so they can fully service the client without

     going to sale s, bill ing, etc.”

    – Jonathon Moody, VP Operations, Versature

    Make sure your Customer Support team can solve a billing problem when one arises. If you can’t close a

    transaction because of some functional problem you’ve lost a customer.

    Support teams will handle a lot of customers with billing/payment requests, such as, "How do I update

    my credit card information?" or "This person has left the company and now I need to change where our

    invoices are being shipped."

    Quite often instead of being able to help the customer, Support has to transfer the customer to Billing,

    or worse yet, they don't have a billing person/department so they have to ask an engineer who is already

    working on 20 other things for help. Both scenarios usually end in frustration for the customer.



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    Empower your Customer Support team to x billing problems. Customers are less likely to churn if they

    can quickly and easily update their credit card information. This is an easy step to ensure that Support

    can retain your customers and reduce churn.

    Also – remind your team to annotate the customer record so if a salesperson or someone else comes

    back to check on the account in the onboarding phase, they can see any issues that may have arisen.

    5. Give Support the power to customize a conversation  

    “With Bizible , Boris knows exac t marke ting sourc e, loca tion and devic e used by the lead s that

    come to his site through live chat [to see] how qualified each lead was and where it camefrom. They increased the chat to closed customer conversion rate to 30% [from 5%].”  

    – Boris Tsibelman, CTO, ( Read the full article )

    Customers hate it when Support agents don’t know anything about them, but the bar has been

    set so low on the Internet that your Support team could amaze your customers by knowing even

    a little about them before a conversation starts.

    There are three ways to do that:

    1. Link your CRM – “Oh the Salesforce license is too much.” Who cares? The customer wants it!

    They want your Customer Support team to know what is going on with them. If you think aboutit, it seems kind of crazy to hide information from your sta whose job it is to solve customer

    problems. If you want Customer Support to sell more, they will need access to the CRM to nd

    customer history and add notes.

    2. Link all of your platforms – These days, most platforms that track customer interactions and

    data will integrate. If you use for your help desk, make sure data goes into

    Salesforce. This is a simple thing to do.

    3. Use Olark CartSaver – This enables live chat operators talking to a customer to see what

    that customer has in their cart as they're browsing or preparing to check out. Armed with this

    knowledge, your Support team can customize the conversation to be more helpful, and more likely

    to convert a sale.

    READ MORE: Churn isKilling Your SaaS Business

    Try Olark CartSaver!



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    6. Make it easy to hand off a hot lead

      “Don’t expect the Support team to be dropping three-pointers from the Support queue, but

    expect them to pass the ball. Identify simple things that are indicators of a larger deal. Have

    a hand off point is great.”

    – Nate Gilmore, VP Marketing, Shipwire

    Sometimes persuading Customer Support to sell means identifying when someone is ready

    to buy. Maybe your purchasing process is quite complex and requires a dedicated sales rep,

    beyond what Support can accomplish. Or maybe Support is inundated with actual Support

    requests and doesn't have the bandwidth to help the customer complete a purchase.

    Whatever the reason, it’s important that your Customer Support and Sales team are constantly

    talking. So many times I’ve seen companies try to manage sales hand offs in an ad hoc way.

    Support scrambles to find a salesperson with spare time to take an interested customer.

    Meanwhile, the customer is left spinning their wheels waiting, frustrated, and annoyed.

    There should be a clear and defined process to pass a hot lead from the Support queue directly

    to the Sales team, and an integrated platform to track all of these interactions. Combining tools

    like Salesforce, Olark and Bizible is a great start:

    (A screenshot from a fully integrated Bizible customer interaction.)

    Many Sales teams create a special team to handle inbound sales inquiries. These are customers

    who reach out to you to start the sales conversations. They are the hottest leads you’ll ever get

    because they’ve already qualified themselves.

    Customer Support should be able to transfer these customers directly to this inbound team. If you

    don’t have one yet, consider measuring how many inbound inquires Customer Support is getting

    every day and whether this may justify creating an Inbound Sales position in your company.



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    7. Automate the opening 

    As we've mentioned above, Support doesn't want to approach a customer and say, "Sooooo,

    what are we shopping for today?" They just want to be helpful and friendly.

    That's ne! No need to rip people out of their comfort zone. You can use the miracle of modern

    marketing technology to automate the sales opener.

    For example, if you're using some type of marketing automation software like Pardot, Marketo

    or HubSpot, you can automatically send an email whenever a prospective customer has viewed

    a white paper, video, or a particular product listing.

    This automated prompt gives the interested customer a chance to voice their sales objections,

    and lets your Support team allay those concerns in a reactive way.

    You can apply this same trick to live chat. Automate openers on pages where a sales objection

    might exist. For example, on Olark’s own pricing page I decided to try an experiment: I put a sales

    opener on that page that says, “Hey, I’m here to help you explain what Olark is. What business

    goal are you looking for Olark to solve?” It doubled the number of conversations on that page

    which lifted our sales between 5 and 7 percent.

    Yes, this is partially us being tricky marketers in the 21st century, but it also enables the customer

    service team to sell.



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    CONCLUSIONYour Customer Support team can be a great asset to your sales eorts. Just don't expect them to

    meet a 'sales quota' - that's not how they operate. Put them in a position to be friendly, helpful andresponsive, and watch your customer satisfaction and your bottom line improve. Hopefully this

    book gave you some ideas to try with your own team.

    If you try any of these techniques, I'd love to hear how it works for you and your team. You can reach

    me at [email protected] (And I promise that's a real email, not just one that goes to our Support


    Thanks for reading – Sunir

    And here are some places you can fnd us online: