engage with your customer, do not push a sale.

How the Awkward Upsell Hurts the Customer Experience

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend recently. It’s upsetting, uncomfortable and down right uncalled for. Yes, that’s right – the awkward upsell.

Recently, at both London Drugs and the Great Canadian Superstore, I was put in an uncomfortable position. Let’s look at the London Drugs scenario…

I’m behind a lady who is asked by the cashier if she found everything she was looking for (little late to ask that if she’s ready to pay now) and if she’s interested in chocolate coins or lip balm, their “special feature” today (FYI – “special feature” doesn’t mean it’s on sale, it usually just means they have too many of something and want to get rid of it. Applies to restaurants too). The cashier recited her script and sounded like she was saying it because management told her to.

engage with your customer, do not push a sale.

I see you have only groceries. Would you like some lip balm?

I’m up next. I have laundry detergent, some scrub brushes and paper towels (I’m a clean guy). Without missing a beat, the cashier goes into her messaging, “everything found OK? Want some chocolate and lip stuff?” Did she look at what I bought? Obviously not.

What do you think the impression I had leaving the store? Do you think I left that store thinking, “Wow, thank goodness she highlighted those chocolate coins. Obviously with all my cleaning supplies, I had a hankering for some sweet cocoa?” Not so much. Just a feeling of sadness for the cashier for being forced to mime that crap.

I’m a fan of the upsell. Obviously, I named my blog after it. But the ultimate upsell is good customer service, not a script you tell everyone so no one feels special.

How it should go – “Doing some cleaning? Did you notice we have window cleaner on special until tomorrow?”  It’s relatable to what I’m already buying. It doesn’t seem out of place. It’s conversational and engaging, not forced.

People want to talk to and buy from people, not zombies droning on with pre-rehearsed babble they have to tell everyone…especially when customers have heard it twice already from the two interactions ahead of them.

Treat a person like a person, not a number with an opportunity for a sale.

Oh, and no lip balm. Thanks.

One Comment

  • Adrian Charlie

    I agree with you on this one. I recently called my CC company and their upsell sounded personal (although I’m sure it was scripted) but the delivery was spot on. “Hey I noticed you do not have so and so feature on your account, would you be interested in adding that to your account?” It was all in the delivery, a harmless no, it added maybe 10 seconds to the call. I have never understood “Did you find everything?” What is the response if I say “No I didn’t?” Maybe it’s time to test that!

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