Change Your Employee Performance Metrics to Better Reflect Customer Engagement

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Are you aware that customer engagement and customer satisfaction are two distinctly different metrics? A recent Gallup poll sheds light on the differences and how each can be measured most effectively.

Gallup confirms that engagement is a much higher bar to reach than satisfaction. One doesn’t necessarily follow from the other, and both are strategic choices for companies looking to grow business revenues.

Half of all customers in Gallup’s customer database say they are satisfied with a given brand, but only 38 percent say they are engaged with it. Gallup gives examples for each metric. For instance, a retail business may earn customer satisfaction by offering great sales, discounts and deals. But it will engage customers if its salespeople go out of their way to be helpful.

Four possible combinations of the two metrics were identified by Gallup: 1) low satisfaction/low engagement; 2) high satisfaction/low engagement; 3) low satisfaction/high engagement; and 4) high satisfaction/high engagement. No. 4 is obviously the ideal situation, and No. 1 is a sure miss.

Ranking in No. 2 or No. 3 can be valuable—but only if following from a company’s leadership and strategic aim to be there.

Gallup defines No. 2 customer relationships as ones of “convenience,” meaning that either price or product features are appealing but customers have no strong emotional connection with the brand. Here, customers want what the company offers—not the company itself. This is a perilous position for brands because customers will simply leave if another brand offers more bang for the buck.

Companies that rank in the No. 3 category are known for their emotional connections to customers but hardly rational aspects of their products or services. Think highly successful, upscale hotel chains and theme parks.

How can companies drive employees to performances that help them reach the ideal No. 4 category of both high satisfaction and high engagement? Start by measuring the right metrics; identify the specific actions that keep customers coming back and purchasing more. Spreading a positive message should be the primary focus of training and management efforts.

Senior leaders are the only ones in a position to instill organizational norms that engender greater customer satisfaction and engagement.

Here’re Gallup’s four key strategies for advancing within each category:

  1. Clarify the purpose and mission: Only a well-defined mission can drive purpose effectively.
  2. Reverse-engineer the culture: Organizational norms must serve the mission.
  3. Invest in what matters: Highly successful organizations invest time, energy and money into advancing their missions.
  4. Measure the right things: If you want engagement, measure customer “moments” as locally as possible.

Consistency and persistence across these four areas determine a company’s value proposition to the marketplace, says Gallup.  Senior leaders must be intentional in connecting mission—whether customer satisfaction, engagement or both—and strategy to turn organizational norms into strengths.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Enhance Your Digital B2B Strategy to Attract More Buyers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Is your company one of the many investing more marketing dollars in digital channels these days? If so, your organization is following the trend to sagely engage customers where they “live,” i.e., the spaces they frequent when looking for information on products and services. In fact, 82 percent of marketers responding to a Regalix survey say they plan to spend more than 50 percent of their 2015 budgets on digital.

This is all well and good as long as digital channels are leveraged to deploy strategies and programs that will lead to positive differentiation for brands.

How can you be assured that you’re truly on the right path—to increased revenue—with your B2B digital marketing strategy?

Website, search, email and social continue to dominate—but are they best for your business? The answer will follow from a thorough understanding of the buying journey for your particular audience. Once you deploy technologies—in your contact center—and elsewhere in your company (think sales and marketing) to capture and analyze customer data, e.g., behaviors, preferences and the like, you will have the insights you need to deliver the right content across the right channels.

Be assured, first of all, that employing a multichannel strategy that speaks to individual preferences is a necessity in this day and age where consumers wield the power in B2B—and B2C—interactions. So, you’ve got that right. Second, support for the old standby offline channels, e.g., events, phone and direct mail, will keep you in good stead with a majority of customers as well. Third, if you’re integrating old and new channels to meet your marketing objectives, you’ve hit the trifecta for marketing wins.

See how your digital marketing strategy aligns with the market: The Regalix report confirmed that company websites are the top digital channel for B2B marketers, with 81 percent of the CXOs and senior marketers surveyed rating their sites effective in helping to accomplish marketing goals. Email ranks second, with 71 percent of respondents calling it effective. Search engine optimization came in third with 54 percent verifying its effectiveness. Social, in fourth place at 41 percent, was slated for increased spend in 2015 by 54 percent of respondents.

Of course, channel selection becomes a moot point if the messages being delivered are of little value or relevance to your key targets. With websites identified as the most effective marketing channel, website content naturally comes in first as the most effective content asset; 76 percent of marketers call it “indispensable.”

To strengthen this marketing asset to attract and convert more buyers, try some of these ideas:

  • Connect to consumers in a deeply human way. A unique, personalized story will help to diminish the Web barrier between you and your audience. Perhaps surprisingly, this calls for you to step back and think of your brand in terms of moments in your customers’ lives. Think about times when your brand may have made a special appearance in their homes or communities and use them as touch points.
  • Use customer testimonials to invoke your brand story. Identify the consumer need that inspired your client to reach out to your business, and how your products and services were used to address the need. Be sure to root your story in reality—and that the message is consistent with your brand voice across content assets and channels.
  • Interview subject matter experts to gather shareable material that will add precision, depth and expertise to your content. Craft the interview to address your customers’ needs. For example, consider whether your audience wants greater objectivity regarding your offerings or wants to put a face to your story, i.e., get to know you better.

Webcasts and online videos can also borrow from these tips to great effect, especially now that 65 percent of marketers say they plan to increase spend on these content assets.

Stay abreast of where your competitors are focusing their marketing efforts so you can quickly counter them with your own initiatives—to ensure that customers beat a path to your door. Your enhanced digital strategy will guarantee that they receive a warm welcome when they arrive, ready to do business with your brand.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Why the Phone Provides High-Value Leads

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Recent research by BIA/Kelsey predicts that annual calls to businesses from smartphones will reach 162 billion by 2019. This number is a dramatic increase—more than double—over the 77 billion calls generated similarly last year. Much of this traffic is due to the proliferation of mobile ads that merge with the scrolling feed-based interfaces of social apps like Facebook and Instagram.

Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, customers with more complex issues are being driven to the phones. After having tried and failed at previous attempts for issue-resolution, usually via Web chat or text messaging, customers now use the phone as something of a last resort. As a result they may be frustrated or angry—and inclined to provide feedback—on whatever drove them to place the call in the first place.

With these two facts in hand, it’s safe to say that phone calls, more than any other mode of communication, can tell us a great deal about our customers.

The ability to gather information from phone calls is a competitive advantage that offers invaluable insights about potential and current customers. Understanding which marketing campaigns are driving phone calls is key to your marketing strategy. Similarly, being able to gather the complex feedback arising from a distress call can be used to inform everything from product development to quality of service to customer preferences. The significance of knowing why people are calling, where they’re calling from, and what they need cannot be understated.

Does your call center have the technology tools necessary to make the most of your phone calls?

Turning phone call information into actionable data requires call-tracking software. But before jumping in, make your goals concrete. What information is your business partner looking for? What information would be valuable if tracked? You can enhance the value of your services by working closely with your client to determine which of the following insights would be most valuable:

  • Keyword information. Some call-tracking software enables you to find out what keyword search led to the discovery of the company’s mobile ad. Keyword searches that lead to contact, and then paying customers, are high in value and can be used for future marketing purposes.
  • Caller location. Customer demographics such as this one can be used to identify patterns linked to purchases.
  • Marketing campaign effectiveness. Unique phone numbers placed strategically on different web pages can be tracked to determine which campaigns were the most effective, or which locations proved most fruitful.
  • Call duration. Too long or too short varies by business, but once a reasonable standard has been defined, it’s good to know what’s happening in reality. Calls that take longer than the defined standard may indicate root problems that need to be addressed, either on the part of the business or the call center.
  • Identify your best customer. Listening to calls and learning more about what customers are looking for enables businesses to visualize their ideal customer, so they can direct their efforts appropriately.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

People, process and analytics create successful B2B model

In today’s economy, companies must focus their efforts on core competencies and choose partners to help provide the return they need growing their business.  At last month’s IT EXPO in Miami I had the chance to enjoy the sunshine and connect with longtime colleague, Rich Tehrani, TMC CEO, to discuss how InfoCision is partnering with clients to achieve success with our valuable B2B solution. You can view the interview here. http://bit.ly/1h7YPKn

We consider it top priority when partnering with clients to customize our approach and make sure we meet their needs and their customer’s needs. We start by ensuring we have the best possible people on the phone. Our Business Account Managers (BAMs) are highly trained sales experts who are highly skilled at communicating, reaching and consulting with decision makers.

Next, the way we manage the process is different. We take the behind the scenes dialing process and manage it so our sales people are able to maintain predictability to the calling structure and can focus on their strengths in building relationships and closing sales.

Finally, we use data analytics and business intelligence to make sure we are reaching the next target successfully and managing the continuity for multiple points of contact throughout the process. There’s a relationship that evolves that often takes more than a single phone call and we have created a process to handle this efficiently and effectively. The focus isn’t on simply getting the sales; it’s primarily to ensure a positive customer experience as we all know it directly impacts repeat business, loyalty and referrals.

With extremely fierce competition, choosing a partner that combines strategic use of the best possible people, processes and data analytics will provide the needed marketplace edge.

I’d love to continue this dialogue with you.  What are some of the challenges you are facing within your B2B program? How can we help?