Calling customers in a COVID-19 world

Let's face it, your front-line sales team has always dreaded picking up the phone to make a call. For most sales leaders in wireless retail, it's been an uphill battle long before COVID-19.

Over the last three weeks, we've been hard at work helping our customers adapt their outreach strategies. As an essential service, we recommend wireless retailers show empathy and focus on serving the customer's needs (setting up hotspots, billing issues, etc.). 

Given that most of your customers are suddenly working from home, there's no better time to give them a call to check in.

With that being said, we still recommend sending a text first. For those who don't respond, follow up with a phone call.

Here are three things to consider before asking your team to pick up the phone:

  1. Adapt your messaging
  2. Update your call flow
  3. Keep renewal opportunities warm

Adapt your messaging

Above all, being human, addressing the current climate, and showing empathy are more important than ever. Remember that some of your customers work (or have loved ones who work) in industries and areas deeply affected by COVID-19.

Most are likely WFH first-timers and are still trying to figure out how to handle the stress from their kids being home and hearing their spouse take loud conference calls

Encourage your front-line team to soften the sales pitch and favour messaging like "just checking in". Here's an opener they can use when making a call:

Hey {Customer Name}, this is {Sales Rep} from {Store name}. Thought I'd reach out to make sure you have everything you need to stay in touch with friends and family. Just wanted to let you know that our store is open if you need anything at all.

Update your call flow

As a sales leader, you should know that your reps' resistance to calling comes in one or more of the following forms:

  1. “I don't know what to say.”
  2. “I don’t want to bother my customer and interrupt their day.”
  3. “I would never answer a call from an unknown number.”

That's why you need a workflow to give some structure to an otherwise unstructured, live conversation with a real person.

Here's a COVID-19 workflow you can use:

Calling workflow during COVID-19 for sales leaders in wireless retail

Step 1 - Introduce yourself: Make sure your reps are speaking to the right person, let them know who they are, and where they're calling from.

Step 2 - Build rapport: Make it a point for your reps to address the pandemic and take time to connect with your customers on a personal level.

Step 3 - Check in: Tell your reps to ask customers about their current device. Is the battery and storage ok? Did they set up their hotspot? Do they have everything they need to stay connected?

If the customer is being short or impatient, STOP! End the conversation here and tell your reps to let them know that they're ready to help when needed. 

Step 4 - Inform: Assuming your customers do actually need help, tell your reps to let them know that they're still available remotely even if stores may be closed.

Step 5 - Help: Provide the relevant assistance. After analyzing thousands of conversations in Statflo, consumers need help setting up hotspots so be sure your reps know how to troubleshoot that over the phone.

Step 6 - Handle objections: In the current climate, expect customers to have a lot going on. Arm your reps with answers to anticipated pushback like “I'm not purchasing anything new right now”.

Huge disclaimer here: Objection handling needs to be done with nuance and empathy. Soften the sales pitch and focus on building relationships with your customers. Retailers with the strongest customer relationships will come out winners after this pandemic.

Step 7 - Log activity: Whatever the outcome, be sure your reps are logging the outcome of each interaction. Having that context is crucial for future follow ups.

Keep renewal opportunities warm

Our data shows that consumer purchase intent is still high, but purchases will be put off until we know how long this pandemic will last. Some of your customers are overdue for a renewal/upgrade but will not be ready to transact anytime soon. 

More than ever, staying connected to your customers is key to the survival of your stores. A well thought-out calling script can keep your customers engaged until they're ready to convert.

Approach calling with a service mindset, not a sales mindset

Calling doesn't have to be so jarring if you approach the conversation with a service mindset. While it may be counterintuitive for sales leaders, now is not the time for a sales pitch.

Those who focus on building strong relationships with their customer base in the near term will inevitably bounce back the fastest.

Calling customers in a covid-19 world

About the Author

Alex Bramos

I love culture, entertainment, marketing and most importantly retail! My goal is to bring interesting new ideas to the wireless retail industry. Want to collaborate on a post? Let's chat over email: alex.bramos@statflo.com

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