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Vincent Barberger, Montreal | FRANÇAIS

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Congratulations. You’ve put in all kinds of hard work, and you’ve finally created a great e-commerce offering. Now for the big question: how do you make sure the human beings your customers interact with, via phone calls, text messages, and in-person, complement what your customers find online – so that you maximize sales revenue? Here are three ideas you may want to consider.

Train people handling incoming calls to look beyond the immediate customer challenge. It’s likely that a large percentage of the people calling your organization are calling about specific, narrowly defined questions or problems connected to the web site or app that they are using to place orders. Of course, you want your team to help customers resolve those issues. Of course, you want to train people to get the customer where they need to go, and to ask the right diagnostic questions. But make sure they don’t stop there! You also want to train team members to ask deeper, “I’m just curious” questions. For instance: What made the customer decide to visit the site? Is this their first visit to the website? Are they purchasing the item for themselves or for someone else? If we have an opportunity for a voice-to-voice conversation with the customer, we should be asking these kinds of questions … and deepening both the amount of information shared by the customer and the customer’s level of trust and comfort with our company. The more we learn about the customer, the more opportunities we may uncover for additional matches between what we offer and what the customer wants.

Make sure your team is deeply experienced when it comes to using the same web site or app that the customer is using. Reciting a script is not enough! Move beyond simply giving your people a written list of common problems and common fixes for solving those problems. Make sure your people are at least as conversant with the platform the customer is on as the customer is – and ideally much more conversant. This step also makes it easier for the members of your support team to ask deeper, more meaningful questions about what the customer is considering purchasing ... and why they are buying that. Once they know what section of the online store the customer is using, and have used it themselves, the members of your team will have an easier time striking up conversations about what is actually motivating the customer to buy.

If your team interacts with customers by means of a chatbox, help them make a special effort to create deeper conversations in that environment. It’s particularly easy to slip into low-information, low-engagement conversations with customers (or anyone else) when we are exchanging texts with them. That’s not the kind of conversation we want to have with customers! So: Hire people who actually like to interact with customers (as opposed to just answer their technical questions), and then train those people to move beyond diagnostic, yes-or-no questions during text-message exchanges with customers once the customer’s problem is solved. For instance: I’m glad we were able to help you with that problem. What else were you looking at today?

You may have noticed that all three of these suggestions tend to take your support team away from a pure “customer service” model and toward a blended “customer service and sales” model. Guess what? The blurring of those lines is intentional. That’s what the most competitive organizations we work with are now doing: Hiring and training customer support teams who are a little more curious about what’s going on in the customer’s world, so they can move beyond a single technical fix, make informed recommendations about other products that might be a good match for that person … and close more sales. Remember: It’s a wasted opportunity to talk to a customer without learning about what’s going on in that person’s world! Check out this podcast to learn more about building the right team.


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