Higher up-selling and cross-selling goes hand-in-hand with customer satisfaction

Contact centers are quick to recognize the delicate balance between working as efficiently as possible and higher sales. Reduce call duration or handle more questions through chat, and that’s often at the expense of your cross-selling and up-selling. Mobile telecom provider ice Norway strikes the right balance by using Freshworks to integrate all its channels into one system, enabling a data-driven approach.

About ice Norway

ice Norway is Norway’s third-largest mobile telecom operator. It launched in 2009 with its own mobile broadband network for the business market. In the wake of rapid growth, the company won the frequency auction from Tele2, and could start offering services to consumers from 2016. Things moved fast from then on. Not only is ice Norway the strongest-growing mobile network operator in Europe, but the company also wins one customer service award after another. How does ice Norway combine this strong growth with such a high customer contact rating?

Customer orientation is a culture

Kjetil Totland is Director of Customer Care at ice Norway. He knows better than anyone just how difficult this is. “First off, customer focus is a company culture. A culture that has to be present not just in the contact center, but in your entire company. Otherwise it won’t work, because sooner or later the focus will be on short-term revenue growth. By contrast, we believe that satisfied customers are far more beneficial in the long term. They create more growth automatically.”

ice Norway’s growth objective is to expand the 10 percent market share it now holds to 25 percent. Totland realized they needed to integrate three most-used customer contact channels to achieve this: telephone, chat and email. “Until the summer of 2020 we had different systems for those different channels. That’s how it had evolved because we had outsourced parts of our customer contact activity to different external parties, and each of them used their own software. For us that meant a limited overall view of how our three KPIs interrelate, and what impact there would be on one KPI if we turned the dial on another.”

Those three KPIs are:

  • The average handling time for each task;
  • The hit rate (the sales you get from an identified group of prospects);
  • The CSAT (the customer satisfaction score)
Striking a delicate balance

Totland: “Anyone working in customer care knows just how important average handling time is to the cost. Save an average of ten seconds on a customer contact and the financial impact is enormous. But we’re also aware that if we push customers to channels that have a favorable handling time, like chat, we have less ability to cross-sell or up-sell. That’s logical, because when you’ve got someone on the phone it’s easier to entice them to upgrade their package or to cross-sell from the same product family. If you want to strike the right balance between those KPIs, you really need to know what’s happening and how those two factors affect each other.”

Yet at the same time you must never lose sight of the CSAT in the process. Because ultimately that’s the KPI which counts most towards longer-term growth, says Totland. “Our CSAT has been very high for many years. Our aim is to keep it there, while at the same time turning the other two dials to cut costs and increase the hit rate.” 

Steering integrally with Freshdesk

That’s why the company chose Freshdesk. Not only does it let ice Norway measure CSAT across all channels, where it used to only be measured on calls; it also reveals the relationship between handling time and the hit rate. “We can start steering integrally with Freshdesk,” Totland sums it up. “We can discover the value of keeping customers on the phone a little longer. In the meantime we’ve shortened the manual effort arising from customer questions, giving our agents more time to deal with those customers for longer. So our efficiency has improved. The goal of that improvement was not to cut costs, but to carve out more ‘Care’ time for our customers.”

One insight that has become apparent in the finer details since using Freshdesk is that while chat is certainly a very efficient channel that’s highly valued  by customers, it doesn’t benefit the hit rate. “Cross-selling and up-selling is easier on the phone or by email than through chat.” Employees felt that too, but now this can be backed up with hard data.

Gaining new data-backed insights

The contact center agents are excited about the insights revealed by integrated cross-channel measurement. Now they themselves are suggesting ideas for how to improve performance even further. The great thing about working with Freshdesk is that the team can implement these improvements themselves to a large extent, without any help from the IT department. Totland: “We used to need an IT developer to help us with this, but as in every company, that’s a scarce resource here too. But with Freshdesk we can simply adjust configuration ourselves. The software offers so many possibilities right out-of-the-box, and we’re nowhere near making optimum use of it yet. It’s obvious to me that our contact center agents are excited about all the possible future improvements. They feel part of it because they can come up with their own ideas, which we can then also implement very quickly.”

This is a way of working that also suits the company, says Totland. “Continuous improvement is in our genes. It’s great that we can now give substance to that in customer care as well.”


Importance of a good project team

ice Norway migrated in the summer of 2020. A major project, says Totland, that nevertheless ran smoothly. “We had a very good, dedicated project team with really good experience in handling such a large-scale change. We invested lots of time in training agents, for example, because success is dependent on how they use the software.”

Naturally the project team encountered the odd challenge and hiccup. “For example, we hadn't realized how much customer data we were now going to generate. You need the ability to store and analyze that data. Fortunately we could arrange the additional IT capacity needed quickly, because the project was well-connected at all levels. We had commitment from the top.”

Satisfied employees ensure satisfied customers

That commitment arises from the mission of being a customer-friendly company. Focusing on customer satisfaction has led to one award after another. Not only has ice Norway’s contact center been adjudged the best in Norway, but the company also scooped the award for best customer service. Totland insists that while a system to measure customer care performance integrally is essential for improvement, it all really begins with a customer-centric culture. 


“Ultimately it’s our people who provide customer service. It’s wonderful that we now have a system that gives them better support in their work. Because without satisfied employees who can do their job well, you’re just not going to achieve all those other goals either.”

Kjetil Totland

Director of Customer Care

ice Norway