TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2014 | Vol. XIII - No. 6


Why Your Customer Service Has To Include Selling

"I need more customers!"

"I need to know how to attract more customers!"

These are common refrains from business owners nowadays.

But instead...why not sell more to the ones you already have?

Let me explain with a quick story...
I've been a fan of Apple for over 20 years. In fact in 2008, I purchased an Airport Time Capsule for my Apple TV. Over a two-year period, the Apple TV failed to load purchased movies, it stopped midway, and worst of all, once it quit right before the end of a movie.

Each time I called customer service, I was told to check that it had the latest software, then check the Internet connections and restart the Airport Time Capsule.

As I restarted it, I noticed it said Time Capsule (1st generation).

That got me to wondering how many newer generations Apple might have put out since I purchased mine.

It turns out it was their fourth-generation. So I ordered a new one and noticed a huge speed difference. Apple TV streamed movies just fine from that point on.

So here's the thing...
After all those calls to customer service, why didn't someone, somewhere ask me, "When did you buy your Time Capsule?"

Or even better, since everything is registered with Apple, why didn't someone, somewhere say, "I see you have a first-generation Time Capsule. Our new model is much improved. I would suggest you get a new one."

Or better yet, "I see you have a first-generation Time Capsule. We're now on the fourth-generation which has improved stability, speed, and features. I can help you purchase one right now which will solve all of your problems with your Apple TV."

But, of course, there was no someone, somewhere who ever made those suggestions.

Customer service needs to be open to the idea of selling someone something new rather than just suggesting they fix it.
Newer more modern things often work better.

That's why I say...
Customers aren't looking for a product, they are looking for an upgrade to their lives.

So many times, customer service training is at odds with the idea of selling.

But if you are trying to solve something that isn't working...

If you can see that the problem can be fixed by selling something...

Wouldn't suggesting that new product be the best customer service? I think so.

It's no different at hardware stores...
In the old days, it was great to visit the guy who's been there for 90 years who knows where to get the little bolt that goes on the toilet that was made in 1950. But he doesn't even mention, "How about getting a new toilet?

That's pushy Bob...

They'll think I'm just trying to sell them something...

But what's better customer service?
If your toilet was built before we had a man on the moon, before we had a fax, when we only had 3 TV stations, think of all the water it probably is wasting – even if it is fixed!

Associates that helped with a problem could mean a new purchase. And that's a good thing.

Bob PhibbsWriter's Bio: Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor®, a best-selling author and speaker who has helped thousands of independent businesses compete. His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business has received praise from both Inc. magazine and USA Today and can be found at your local bookstore or ordered at He and his work have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur magazine. Questions? Contact Bob at This article was reprinted with permission of the author, Bob Phibbs, aka The Retail Doctor®. Read more articles by this author


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