In this series of blogs, I’ve been looking at how field service management businesses can increase customer lifetime value (CLV). My last post  covered four important drivers that hold the potential to improve CLV significantly. And I’m now going to go a bit deeper into practical approaches for tapping into each of these drivers – starting with driver #1 – cross-sell and up-sell.

The basics of cross-sell and up-sell

A significant part of the value that customers bring to your business is created when they buy big-ticket products or services from you. For field service management businesses, this is likely to be the initial sale of products like boilers, HVACs or telecommunications equipment.

However, most businesses also have a variety of add-on products that can build on this initial sale. For example, external thermostats, external speakers etc. that complement or enhance the performance of the main product.

Then you also have product-attached services like warranty support, annual maintenance contracts and other service contracts that contribute to additional sales value.

Getting cross-sell and up-sell right is vital in encouraging and guiding your customers to buy more of these add-on products and services, thereby directly increasing their CLV with you. 

Using your service teams to drive cross-sell and up-sell

Service teams interact with customers up to 15 times more than sales teams. This means that field service management businesses have a great opportunity to effectively cross-sell and up-sell services through the rare person-to-person interaction they have with customers during calls and onsite visits.

Collectively, field service technician and contact centre agent teams have vast knowledge about your products and services. Between them, they have the expertise to fix products and resolve customer issues.

But the customer interactions that your service teams are having every day, hold the potential to be more than short-term wins. Instead, during such crucial interactions, field service management businesses need to equip their teams so that not only can they fix the issue at hand but they can also carry out consultative conversations which allow them to recommend new products and services. 

3 steps to equip your teams for better cross-sell and up-sell

To get these conversations right requires your contact centre agents and field service technicians to have the right mindset, skillset and capabilities. Here are three steps to help you equip your teams to bring in cross-sell and up-sell revenues 

1. Enhancing knowledge of products and ongoing offers

It isn’t humanly possible for one person to have all product and service knowledge across a large business and then readily apply it to individual customer interactions. Usually, different products will have different positioning and sales messages, associated literature and knowledge articles. So there’s a lot to stay on top of.

In order to recommend and explain a product to cross-sell or up-sell to a customer, contact centre agents and field service technicians need to have the right information at their fingertips. This means they won’t have to skim through vast amounts of content during customer interactions.

If specific parts of the knowledge base on a specific product are made available to them automatically during their customer interactions or during preparation for onsite visits, then they can position and present your products and services to the customers in the best way and answer any questions effectively.

Automatically suggesting ongoing deals and discounts on the relevant products to your teams at the right time during their customer interactions will help them offer the best deal to the customers and increase chances of customers taking up the offer sooner.

And taking this a step further, by making this knowledge base, along with any training and coaching material, available on-demand and online, you can drive a culture of continuous learning and skill development.

2. The importance of customer context

Not all customers are created equal. Not all offers are applicable and relevant for every customer. And what will be the best offer for a particular customer will vary depending on the lifetime-stage the customer is at.

For instance, if the customer has purchased a product which is still in its warranty period, it’s not the right time to offer service contracts. Similarly, if the product is approaching the end of its ‘shelf life’, offering a new product purchase might be more valuable than extending the annual maintenance contract.

It’s also worth considering the customer’s current attitude towards your business. For example, if the customer has had a disappointing customer experience recently, it might not be a great time to try to sell new products. So, a customer’s past and recent sentiments might play a role in timing new offers for top-up or additional services.

Field service technicians and contact centre agents need to be aware of the customer situation in order to make the right offer. This means any smart cross-sell or upsell offer needs to have deep insights on customer context and preferences.

3. Getting the right mix, every time

Making smart cross-sell and up-sell offers during real-time conversations with customers depends on getting the right mix of the following every time: deep customer insights, relevant product and service literature, and great service team skills to make the right offer.

It’s also important to track and understand the conversion rates of these offers and make adjustments along the way in order to improve your results.

Technological enablers of cross-sell and up-sell

With advancements in cloud-based technologies to integrate and unify customer data from multiple sources across the organisation, it is possible to get a clean and always up-to-date view of customer data, in a cost efficient manner.

Data science and machine learning have made it possible to automate the processing of large amounts of historic and real-time data from various customer and service databases. These analytical models can produce 360-degree views of customers complete with their emotional indicators and current and potential CLV indicators.

These models can predict ‘next best offers’ – in other words, the best offer you can make to a particular customer at a particular time. And these can be generated specifically to support your service teams during individual customer interactions.

Capabilities like natural language processing (NLP) can be applied to ongoing chat transcripts to further customise next best offer suggestions in real-time. NLP and contextual matchmaking can also pull up the most relevant pieces of literature for reference and guidance during actual customer interactions. 

Field service management businesses need to exploit the multitude of technology options to align and equip their service teams to have smart cross-sell and up-sell conversations with customers. It’s these conversations that hold the key to improving your overall customer lifetime value.

Look out for my next post in this series where I’ll be digging down into the second ‘CLV driver’: customer advocacy and referrals.