Using Me2B and Analytics to Avoid Cross-Selling Disasters


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The hue and outcry about Wells Fargo Bank’s egregious internal scam cross-selling unwanted and unneeded products and services to its customers has brought back into discussion a thorny topic for customer experience professionals, and those in marketing, sales, and customer service. Figuring out “How can we sell the right stuff to our customers?” has been around for a long time, and with the Me2B lens and analytics you can avoid cross-selling disasters like the one befalling Wells.

First let’s use the Me2B lens

Based on the research that David Jaffe and I performed with 12 recognized customer experience leaders based in 5 countries, we concluded that each of these companies sincerely placed the customer front and center in all of their decisions and processes. While Wells’ CEO has confidently stated that “Every team member, in every interaction with a customer, gets it right”1 clearly profit maximization and weak internal controls took over.

What would the Me2B2 lens do? First off, the 2nd of the 7 Me2B Customer Needs (what you want to hear from your loyal customers) is “You give me choices” with two Sub-Needs that apply quite well to cross-selling issues: “You let me choose “what” and “how much.”” and “You let me design it.” Both of these Sub-Needs speak to customer control and options, not pushing products or services that the customer didn’t request or that don’t improve their well-being.

The other Me2B Customer Need that relates to improper cross-selling is “You value me” and one of its Sub-Needs “You enable me to trust you” which has as part of its “failure” alternative “You fail to keep some (or most) of your promises.” Heeding these two Needs might not have headed off Wells’ disaster but it would have reinforced the core tenet of customer experience to “listen to the customer but also invent for your customer” (Jeff Bezos’ often cited answer when asked how Amazon strives to “Be Earth’s Most Customer Centric Company”)3; here the “invention” is associated with solutions that help the customer, not piling on specious deals to earn quick profits.

Now let’s apply analytics

There are five elements that underpin successful cross-selling and they all have to align, like in slot machine, to ensure that the customer is treated fairly and the sale sticks.

The Successful Cross-Sell Rights

1st = Right Issue (related to the reason why the customer initiated a contact, and how it will benefit the customer).

2nd = Right Customer (already profitable or this sale will make them profitable; has been a customer long enough to understand options and appreciate having been treated well in the past).

3rd = Right Agent (capable to deal with rejection; can also listen and work off-script; and motivated to do the right thing for the customer and not push anything onto them).

4th = Right Offer (meets or exceeds customer needs; might even produce a “wow!” reaction)

5th = Right Close (wrap up to explain what the customer thinks s/he has

purchased, when/how it will arrive, along with options to change her/his mind later).

While these five Rights might make sense, it’s hard to align them unless you are able to use analytics. There are excellent examples from Big Data prescriptive and predictive analytics to help, including:

  • Sequential calculations of “Who is my customer?” leading to “Why do they buy?” and “What do they buy?” The “Who?” question relies on detailed customer segmentation, ideally to “segments of one”4 and the “Why?” question requires conversion driver analysis including customer profile & satisfaction, agent attributes, call serviceability, issue type, and product offerings = the 5 Rights; and the “What?” question requires a recommendations playbook that identifies product and price affinities by customer segment based on historical purchase patterns to define upsell or cross-sell opportunities.
  • Collecting and assessing real time a new set of metrics, as shown in column 2: bp_new_metrics
  • Models to test these three calculations and refine the offers. This might well take many attempts before achieving desired results and sufficient fit to continue offering the cross-sell opportunities.

Let’s spend some time reflecting on how Wells Fargo Bank got into hot water, and then make sure that you apply the Me2B Customer Needs and Sub-Needs and the 5 Rights to avoid cross-selling disasters.

1 “The Labrador of Main Street”, Gary Silverman, FT Weekend, 17 September/18 September 2016

2 Your Customer Rules! Delivering the Me2B Experiences That Today’s Customers Demand , Bill Price & David Jaffe (Wiley 2015). Here are the 7 Customer Needs that lead to a winning Me2B culture, breaking down into 39 sub-needs:

  1. “You know me, you remember me”
  2. “You give me choices”
  3. “You make it easy for me”
  4. “You value me”
  5. “You trust me”
  6. “You surprise me with stuff that I can’t imagine”
  7. “You help me do better, you help me do more”

3 Page 43, The Best Service is No Service: How to Liberate Your Customers From Customer Service, Keep Them Happy, and Control Costs Bill Price & David Jaffe (Wiley 2008).

4 First proposed by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their seminal book The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time (Currency, 1996).

Bill Price

Bill Price is the President of Driva Solutions (a customer service and customer experience consultancy), an Advisor to Antuit, co-founded the LimeBridge Global Alliance, chairs the Global Operations Council, teaches at the University of Washington and Stanford MBA programs, and is the lead author of The Best Service is No Service and Your Customer Rules! Bill served as's first Global VP of Customer Service and held senior positions at MCI, ACP, and McKinsey. Bill graduated from Dartmouth (BA) and Stanford (MBA).


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