Customer Information Management

Master the upsell

A full view of data enhances customer relationship

A customer calls a cruise company about booking a voyage to Alaska. The customer service agent quickly checks the customer’s records and sees he is asking for a lower-quality suite than he had on a previous cruise. The agent sees that the customer gave the better suite - one with an ocean view - a high mark in his satisfaction review, which the agent points out. With this prompt, the customer upgrades to an ocean-view suite for the Alaska trip, resulting in an upsell worth thousands of dollars - and a happier travel experience.

“Upselling” once had an unsavory connotation, evoking the drama Glengarry Glen Ross, in which people have real estate pushed on them they don’t really want. In a data-driven world, upselling has developed an entirely new image: It allows companies to have more intelligent conversations with customers while providing a higher level of service.

In the example above, the customer service agent could only make the suggestion he did because the customer’s data was integrated and available instantly on his computer screen. In days past, that data would have been siloed in different systems throughout the company, so the agent would never have known about the customer’s preference for a room with an ocean view.

“To upsell successfully, you need a more complete and holistic view of the customer,” explains Andy Reid, global product marketing leader at Pitney Bowes. “It allows you to see that a particular customer has products A, B and C, but not D, which would enhance the experience of having the other three. So you can set up a marketing campaign that tailors the conversation to those customers who would really like to have D, if they only knew about it.”

Liberating data

Before a company can master the upsell, it must master its data. Customer Information Management (CIM) systems - which enable companies to aggregate, cleanse, enrich and analyze customer data - play a key role.

Clean data is the sine-qua-non, or essential element and prerequisite, for being able to upsell to customers. Data quality goes beyond just having accurate customer names and addresses, though. It also applies to part numbers, units of measurement, vendor numbers and other key identifiers. Just as importantly, data quality hinges on understanding whether the source that the data was derived from is trustworthy, how the data will be used and having policies and practices in place to manage data quality.

Consider how companies are using customer knowledge graphs, technology that integrates critical business data from different departments, as well as from sources outside the company, such as social media. This complex data can be modeled in an easy-to-understand visual way, according to elements like the customer’s location, purchasing power or feelings about a particular brand.

“Data becomes a powerful selling tool when you understand the links between individuals, especially in highly regulated industries,” says Andy Reid, part of the global product marketing team at Pitney Bowes.

In one case, a major bank was able to boost incremental cross-sell revenues by 300 percent after implementing customer analytics, fueled by trusted data, to identify customers who would respond positively to marketing materials about home equity lines of credit. The more precise targeting also allowed the bank to eliminate customers who wouldn’t be receptive to the messages, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in mailing volumes even as the campaigns’ success skyrocketed.

As the bank example suggests, the leading edge of upselling is to be proactive and anticipatory rather than to simply respond to actions the customer has initiated with you. Using customer analytics, and a 360-degree view of the customer, companies have the ability to predict future needs and behavior - upsells in the making with an upside for everyone.