Monday, March 17, 2014

The $2,000 Customer Service Call

This morning, I had the misfortune of having my car's transmission conk out while I was on the freeway.  Fortunately, I was able to exit the freeway and park on the street, where I could safely call GEICO for roadside assistance.

But this post isn't about the $2,000+ I'm going to have to spend on a new transmission.  Rather, it's about how GEICO turned a pure cost center--providing roadside assistance to its customers--into $2,000 in revenue.

After providing GEICO with my location and arranging to wait for the tow truck, the GEICO dispatcher told me, "From looking at your account, it looks like you're now eligible for a big discount on our comprehensive coverage.  Since you're going to be waiting for the tow truck anyways, would you like to hear more?"

15 minutes later, I had agreed to add $1 million in additional coverage for my car and home, at a cost of right around $100 per year.

I've been a GEICO customer for 16 years already, so it's not much of a stretch to speculate that I might be a customer for another 20 years.  That means that GEICO turned a costly customer service call into an incremental $2,000 in lifetime revenue.  That's something that any company learn from, especially startups which tend to view customer service as a necessary evil.  Here's how GEICO did it:

1. Timing.
The cross-sell came at the very end of the call.  GEICO had already taken care of me ("the tow truck is on its way") and knew that a) I was feeling relieved and b) I had some time on my hands.  And what better time to sell insurance than after that insurance has just proven to be valuable?

2. Personalization.
This wasn't one of your generic credit card company pitches ("Would you be interested in hearing about our balance transfers?").  Instead, it seemed like a personalized pitch.  The salesperson I was transferred to paid off that impression by explaining the nature of the insurance and how it would interact with my home insurance policy, even though I buy that policy from another provider.  She also pointed out that I could double the amount of coverage I had on our cars for just $0.40 more per year--a bargain that reinforced her helpfulness and GEICO's overall value.

3. Seamlessness.
Once I agreed to the additional coverage, the GEICO rep didn't ask me for a credit card or turn me over to another department to complete the sale.  She simply said, "Would you like me to just bill this additional coverage to the bank account you currently use to autopay your car insurance?"  All I had to do was say yes.  That's the position in which you always want your customers to be.

Do all GEICO roadside assistance calls end with making a sale?  Probably not.  But if you have a chance to turn a simple service call into $2,000 in additional revenue, don't you have to try?

2 comments:

Sophia Wright said...

Nice work GEICO, though while it sounds like they sold the service to you in a very customer friendly way I must say that one thing I hate about customer service people these days is that rather than just try and resolve your issue they perpetually try and upsell to you. I want a resolution not an opportunity to spend more of my limited money!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Sophia. Totally annoying to be non-stop upsold when I just want to get my problem taken care of then hang up. I don't want to spend any more money. As for upselling during roadside assistance, I'd actually be pretty upset someone trying to sell me something while I just had a car accident or car problems.