Three Creative Ways to Maintain Donor Interest Throughout the Year

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Imagine you are trying to grow a garden in your back yard. You would have to spend a fair amount of time watering, weeding and feeding the plants in order to reap a bountiful harvest. You can’t just leave a garden unattended for several months and expect to have a positive outcome.

The same thing is true when maintaining a pool of financial donors. It requires a great deal of ongoing maintenance.

This is true for a few different reasons. First and foremost, there will be other organizations vying for your donors’ contributions throughout the year. So if you want to stay at the top of their list, you need to hold their interest. Always remember, too: In fundraising, as with investing, past performance is no guarantee of future results. A donor may be extremely generous one year, and equally as conservative the next. You never want to assume anything before heading into a fundraising campaign.

So, what can you do to improve your chances of success?

The trick is to keep supporters interested and thinking about your brand in between fundraising campaigns. By strategically reminding them what it is they love about your company, you can turn the process of making a financial contribution into a voluntary task that the donor simply needs to be reminded of, rather than something he or she needs to be convinced to do on the phone.

Here are some creative ways that you can maintain donor interest throughout the year:

Host small events: Donors may be more inclined to contribute to a fundraiser if they feel socially connected to the cause. Strengthen these social bonds by hosting small, fun events like dinner-dances, group trips to local sporting events or even a 5k road race.

When it comes time to take donations, you could also consider using a social network like Venmo, where donors can make their contributions public if they choose to do so. This could help build momentum.

Send small care packages: Everyone loves receiving personalized snail mail (especially when it’s something other than a bill). Try sending a small, but useful gift that your donors will continuously use so that they will always be reminded about your brand. You can never go wrong by sending things like caps, t-shirts and pens — all of which are relatively inexpensive if you buy them in bulk.

Distribute targeted content: One of the most cost-effective and useful ways of sparking donor interest is to send targeted creative content in the form of newsletters, email blasts, snail mail and social content. In doing so, make sure to minimize content that feels overly-promotional and instead focus on issues that really matter to your donors. For instance, a non-profit that is trying to end hunger may share stories of the people that are directly benefitting from donor contributions.

So think outside the box! By trying these strategies, you could lay the groundwork for a very successful fundraising campaign.

Five Ways InfoCision Can Make Your Life Easier

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

As a customer service administrator, you have one primary job: To ensure that your business’s customers are happy and loyal to your brand.

While the contact center is the best tool that you have for maintaining strong customer relations, the fact is that it can be very difficult to manage. In fact, it can act as a barrier to success if not carefully maintained.

For this reason, more and more customer service administrators are outsourcing their customer service operations to contact center solutions providers like InfoCision.

Here are five ways that InfoCision can make your life easier:

  1. Guaranteed results: Right now, you are responsible for making the tough decisions in your contact center. You have the final say, for instance, when hiring new agents and developing new strategies. It’s a lot of responsibility to carry on your shoulders, especially with no way of guaranteeing strong results. With InfoCision, though, you will receive a service level agreement (SLA) backed performance guarantee. Take the pressure to perform off of your team, and put it on InfoCision!
  2. Happier donors: Right now your agents are struggling to keep your financial donors happy, and contributing to your cause. As a result, your agents may be pressing a bit and alienating some of your biggest donors. InfoCision’s high quality Communicators specialize in maintaining excellent donor relations, while also driving results during campaigns.
  3. Less strain on IT: Uptime, stability and security are all critical in the contact center. Just a few minutes of downtime, after all, can lead to major losses in productivity and it can also make things very difficult for customers who need speedy resolutions. By outsourcing your contact center to InfoCision, you will make things easier for the IT —enabling them to devote more time to other areas of the business.
  4. The latest software: Contact centers today require the latest technologies to run at a high level. InfoCision’s contact centers are stocked with the latest hardware and software, and best of all you don’t have to shop for it or negotiate with vendors. We do all of the heavy lifting for you. InfoCision will even maintain this infrastructure in our own facility.
  5. Worry-free legal compliance: There is no room for guesswork when reaching out to customers. There are many laws and regulations governing how businesses are allowed to communicate their products and services, and they can be confusing. InfoCision provides access to a strong team of legal experts who ensure that all work is done in a way that aligns with local and federal laws.

So as you can see, outsourcing to InfoCision makes a lot of sense. Your contact center will gain access to the critical resources that it needs, and your life will get much easier in the process.

To get started, click here.

 

Three Reasons Your Last Fundraising Effort Failed

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”      Henry Ford

Let’s be honest: Your contact center’s last fundraising effort was a giant flop. And now, you’re worried that your next campaign is going to be just as big of a disaster.

It’s time to turn things around — and you can start by taking a fresh look at your previous campaign as you look for key areas that you want to improve.

Granted, there are many different areas to hone in on. Here are some possible reasons why your last fundraising effort may have failed:

  1. Poor donor cultivation: Pull up your notes, and take a look at the outreach initiatives that occurred between your most recent campaign and the prior one. Did your agents spend enough time cultivating donors by sending them things like follow-up messages containing and targeted content? If not, then it’s time to consider implementing this strategy into your next campaign. According to Google, for instance, 57 percent of people who watch a nonprofit video will proceed to make a donation.
  2. Sloppy execution: How did your agents perform over the phone when reaching out to donors? There is little room for errors such as mispronouncing names, or using the wrong tone during a call. Go back and pull up some random call recordings, analyze customer feedback, and look for some pointers to have your agents improve on moving forward. Execution is critical for success with fundraising.
  3. A lack of targeted insight: One of the biggest reasons why fundraising efforts fail is because of a lack of targeted insight. For instance, running an end-of-year sales campaign seems like a no-brainer. After all, research shows that one third of annual giving takes place in December, and 12 percent of all giving happens during the last three days of the year. But dig a bit deeper into your customer data, and you may identify additional opportunities for engagement that could be even more rewarding. At InfoCision, we have an entire team of Business Analysts, dedicated to developing the most effective data acquisition tools, allowing our clients to better pinpoint and enhance donor experiences.

Fundraisers are complicated and there are countless ways to steer the project off course. It’s beneficial to consult with an expert contact center solutions provider such as InfoCision, that specializes in developing market-driven donor outreach strategies and then executing them on-site using the latest, cutting-edge technologies and highly-qualified agents.

To learn more about InfoCision’s approach to fundraising, click here.

Who Is Communicating With Your Financial Donors?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Meet Jack: Now 15 years out of college, Jack owns a very successful business and earns a significant income. As such, he — like many other alumni — enjoys giving back by donating money to his former school whenever he can.

The thing is, Jack is not a cash machine. He is a person, with thoughts and feelings. Like most people, Jack wants to feel appreciated and like his time and effort is making a difference for his community. The moment he feels unappreciated, his generosity is liable to cease.

As this example shows, donor relations can be a major challenge.

In other words, while all customers require exceptional care, financial donors need to be treated a bit differently. You can’t simply contact your biggest financial contributors once in a blue moon, ask for money and then stop communicating with them until the next time rolls around. The trick is to make donors feel like they are part of a larger team of contributors who are highly valued, respected and needed.

If you have been struggling with this process, you have come to the right place. InfoCision has mastered the art of donor communications. In fact, our Communicators raise more money over the telephone than any other company in the world.

Here’s why we are so successful at helping companies raise money:

We take a comprehensive approach to fundraising, by offering lifecycle programs (like acquisition, cultivation, retention and win-back), as well as inbound call handling, volunteer and event recruitment, event-based large scale telethons, full service fulfillment and direct mail.

Our donor outreach program is the best in the industry, because our team puts a massive amount of care and attention into it. So when you partner with InfoCision, you’ll get much more than a contact center solutions provider but a team of highly-trained experts who know how to drive results. And most importantly, you’ll have access to a team of strategic thinkers who will take a market-driven approach to communications.

Perhaps most importantly, InfoCision will protect your ecosystem of donors. After all, they are not infinite in numbers. You only have a certain number of people you can contact for help, and a poorly-managed campaign can cause a great deal of damage down the road if you are not careful.

InfoCision will respect your donor ecosystem, ensuring that it will keep giving back to your organization many years down the road. We will form a short term, as well as a long term plan for business growth and development.

So with this in mind, consider who is running your current donor outreach campaigns. It’s time to take a fresh approach to fundraising.

To learn more about how InfoCision can help your business, click here.

What Does It Take to Turn a Customer Into a Brand Advocate?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

The next time you are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, keep an eye out for posts that openly promote products and services. You may see someone rave about a customer service experience he or she had with an airline, or a retail chain that went above and beyond to resolve an issue for someone.

The type of customer who would post something like this is called a brand advocate, or a social media influencer. They typically have many followers, and are very savvy about using social media to spread their messages.

But who are these people, and how can you convince them to rave about your company online?

Here’s the hard truth:

You can’t simply hire brand advocates. You have to develop them, by giving your customers positive experiences at every turn.

Why can’t you hire brand advocates? This wouldn’t be brand advocacy, but rather paid content which is something entirely different. While content can be effective, consumers can easily see through it — especially on social media outlets where branded content can appear to be somewhat jarring next to regular posts.

The real value in brand advocacy, in other words, is that it’s completely organic and unsolicited. A brand advocate is nothing more than a customer who is very excited about supporting a brand that he or she finds authentic and amazing.

Understand that the contact center plays a crucial role in customer development, but there is a caveat:  A contact center that is mismanaged can easily create the opposite of a brand advocate, which is sometimes called a brand saboteur. This is a customer who will go to great lengths to destroy a customer’s reputation. This type of customer can be very damaging, especially when a post goes viral for the wrong reasons.

At InfoCision, we help develop positive customer experiences by promoting the following core values:

Consistency: There is no room for slacking during customer interactions. Consistency and reliability is critical for success. Therefore, our Communicators are alert and ready to engage each and every time they pick up the phone or respond to an incoming message.

Good listening: Sometimes, it’s less important for an agent to be right and more important to listen to a customer’s problems and work towards a resolution. InfoCision’s Communicators are  always be friendly, easy to talk to and in tune with customers’ needs.

Teamwork and collaboration: Even the best customer care Communicators will occasionally require backup when working through tough customer challenges. At InfoCision, we offer small teams of Communicators who know how to work strategically as a team.

For more information about how InfoCision can help your company’s customer service strategy, click here.

 

Customize Your Customer Care Program with InfoCision

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

The customer service landscape has never been more complex, or fragmented, than it is today. Customer needs, attitudes and preferences can change by the hour from something as simple as a viral video, a breaking news item or an online review. News, after all, travels incredibly quickly these days.

From a customer care perspective — as well as product, sales and marketing — this creates a tough challenge. Businesses must stay on top of these ever-changing customer patterns, and capitalize on opportunities before their competitors do. And it’s not always easy to tell which patterns are worth paying attention to.

Suffice to say, it takes a great deal of research and analysis to understand what customers really want. And most contact center managers that we speak with today are too busy overseeing the minute backend functions of their department to find the time to devote to this critical process.

As such, big picture planning often goes completely neglected in the contact center. While businesses in this situation often consult with large contact center providers for assistance, they are usually disappointed with the results they experience.

Here at InfoCision, though, we take a much more comprehensive approach to customer service than some of our larger competitors. We will spend a great deal of time getting to know your customers, and we will use detailed market intelligence to help you form effective customer care and branding strategies that will resonate with your target markets. Then we will help you plan and execute individual campaigns, and we’ll even launch them right from our own onsite facility.

Your business will receive:

  • Guided messaging: The scripts you use in your contact center must be regularly reviewed and assessed for quality and accuracy. We provide high quality script writing services that will keep your customers’ messaging on point. This will save your team valuable time, and it will help ensure stronger results during customer interactions. Script writing can also come in handy during emergencies, when you need to respond quickly.
  • Less wasted time: Our market-focused approach to customer care can help you zero-in on specific demographics when you need to.
  • Legal expertise: We have access to on-site legal experts, which are available on an as-needed basis. This helps us move projects along quickly and safely, as we help our customers stay in compliance with industry regulations and best practices.
  • Ongoing feedback: Because customers never stop changing, our team never stops working. We provide ongoing performance feedback in order to keep customers in the loop and to show how we are helping to grow their business.

So as you can see, the type of services that we offer are a bit different than what you will find with other providers. To learn more about them, contact us today.

 

Why You Should Avoid Large Contact Centers

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Once again, it’s National Small Business Week here in the U.S. It’s the perfect time for business leaders to reflect on all the progress that has been made over the last year, and to identify new ways of spurring business growth.

As you sit down to reflect on your business’s progress, take a moment to think about how you can generate more output from your contact center, and from your customer service strategy as a whole. It’s important to recognize both as critical elements that will help your business grow beyond the SMB level, into a large enterprise.

To streamline these processes, many businesses are now partnering with contact center solutions providers. The truth, though, is that not all providers offer the same level of high quality care. Large contact centers, for instance — even with powerful customer relationship management (CRM) tools — struggle to deliver comprehensive customer support. What they offer is more like assembly line-style customer support because they are built for two things: speed and volume.

Conversely, smaller contact centers like the kind you will find at InfoCision have the ability to take a much more granular approach to customer care. By strategically reducing the size of the contact center, we are able to provide white glove service for all of our customers. Service is delivered through premium Contact Center Communicators, who work closely with team members and our customers on a daily basis.

This strategy allows us to provide the following benefits for our customers:

Consistency: One of the hardest parts about managing a team of agents in a large contact center is ensuring that they operate as one cohesive unit that is completely aligned with the messaging of the brands they are representing. After all, when an agent interacts with a customer, he or she becomes a direct extension of the brand. So there needs to be consistency.

In large contact centers, managers can only perform occasional spot checks and reviews with their agents. At InfoCision, though, management works closely with our Communicators to ensure that consistency is always upheld during customer interactions. This is much easier to do with a smaller team than it is with hundreds or thousands of employees.

Teamwork: When partnering with a small team like InfoCision, you gain access to more than just contact center agents. InfoCision will work with your company to help form a custom, market-driven strategy that is tailor-made for your brand. And they will regularly collaborate and communicate with one another to uphold the strategy — and to make important changes when they are needed.

Higher quality interactions: We understand that every conversation counts in customer service. We teach agents to choose their words carefully, and we empower them to make decisions to cut through red tape and solve problems faster.

Take a closer look at InfoCision, and you will see this is just one example of how we go above and beyond for our customers. To learn more about our approach to customer care, click here.

Double Down on Contact Center Productivity This Summer

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Once again, it’s National Small Business Week here in the U.S. — an annual event designed to recognize all of the hard working Americans (more than half) who own or work for a small or medium-sized business (SMB).

Of course, National Small Business Week is also a time of reflection for small business owners. It’s an annual reminder to stop and ask yourself whether your business is growing at a healthy trajectory. You should do this whether you want to grow into a large enterprise, or whether you just want to make enough money to continue doing what you love long into the future.

Unfortunately, many SMBs are forced to close their doors before they are ready to do so. According to the Small Business Administration, 50 percent of SMBs will survive five years or more. This figure falls to just one third after 10 years or longer.

With this in mind, it may be time to reconsider your summer business strategy. Like many SMBs, your company may slow down during the summer months when employees go out of town and work shorter hours. While this strategy can boost morale in the short term, it can also be detrimental to your business’s overall bottom line. There is not much room for snoozing at the SMB level.

Understand that it’s possible to adopt a fun summer mindset in your business without having to sacrifice your business’s financial goals. You can accomplish this by making some minor chances to your contact center’s outbound strategy.

Here are some tips to consider:

Increase your outbound calls: Unlike inbound sales, which generate revenue on a rolling basis, outbound sales require a bit more effort. The only way to make money with outbound calls is to actually pick up a phone and connect with a customer. With this in mind, think of outbound calling as a numbers game. If you increase your outbound calls, you will increase your chances of closing more deals. It’s that simple. The trick, though, is to work smarter and not harder. Make sure that if you raise your call quotas, you are providing your agents with quality leads that have already expressed an interest in making a purchase.

Offer incentives for agents: The trick is to motivate your agents to close more deals in a way that excites them, instead of making them fear rising outbound call quotas. One way you can do this is to offer special incentives for agents that want to work harder or get ahead of the game. Incentives can be financial, work-related (like extra Work-at-Home privileges), or just fun. This is a nice way to show your agents that you appreciate their efforts, and want to reward them for their hard work.

Host summer events: Summer is a great time to host lead generation events like webinars, as you will have a better chance of catching employees at other companies who have extra time to register and sit through an event. From an outbound perspective, you can use a webinar to connect with interested leads. Research shows that a lead responded to within 5 minutes will be 100 times more likely to be qualified. However, less than 25 percent of companies that receive a Web lead will respond over the phone. And only 27 percent of Web-generated leads get contacted at all.

Use these tips to have a fun, but profitable summer. By taking a more aggressive position during the next quarter, you will set yourself up much better for a strong end of the year sales push.

The Communication Challenges of an Auto Recall: Are You Ready?

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

With more than 51 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. in 2015 and nearly 64 million in 2014, it’s becoming abundantly clear that recalls are a fact of life. The recent auto recall related to Takata air bag inflators is being called the largest and most complex recall in U.S. history, and it continues to spiral—as of early July, more than 100 million vehicles worldwide now require service to replace the defective airbag inflators.

Recalls of any size can have a major impact on an organization’s reputation. Auto recalls have additional challenges due to the complexity of the relationships involved—the triangle made up of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), numerous auto dealerships and millions of individual customers. With all parties under pressure, it’s more important than ever to keep the lines of communication open, but that’s easier said than done during the chaos of a recall.

With the OEM’s brand integrity at stake, much of the actual fallout occurs at the dealership level, where employees struggle to assuage an influx of fearful and annoyed customers. Add to this the fact that OEMs, in their efforts to react quickly, may unintentionally send inconsistent messages to their customers—from their dealer partners to their millions of end users.

Yet, believe it or not, a well-managed recall has the potential to leave your business, and your customer relationships, stronger. Showing customers you “have their back,” so to speak, reflects your company’s sense of responsibility, which will be viewed favorably in the long run. Along with that, your ability to reassure and inform customers in a timely fashion promotes public confidence. Communication plays a central role in minimizing the damage and restoring reputation.

Whether you are an OEM or a dealer, a contact center services agency should be part of your recall communication strategy. At InfoCision, we understand how important it is for your business to be proactive in a crisis. The services we provide help manage the flow of communication—from disseminating essential messages to assisting with public outreach efforts—in a professional and consistent manner. Working in close concert with your management team, our coordinated efforts will ensure that your brand emerges from the crisis with its reputation intact. Should a recall situation or other unexpected scenario arise, consider the following in choosing an expert partner:

  • Provide consistent messaging to customers. State-of-the-art integrated voice response technology should be used to send your customers a consistent, clear message. In addition, live Communicators will be able to speak with customers directly, providing the human touch that’s appreciated in challenging times. A highly trained team of professionals in their field will distribute key message points sensitively on your company’s behalf.
  • Resolve issues. The team should act as brand ambassadors, interacting with customers to help them identify if their product is part of the recall, and gathering the associated data, e.g., names, addresses and places of purchase, where necessary. They can also resolve issues by delivering your corporate-directed remedies to customers.
  • Conduct essential crisis-related business throughout your B2B networks. Your contact center partner can help communicate scheduling and new parts information to the appropriate parties, and coordinate calendars as necessary with your sub-suppliers or dealer partners; it can also communicate messages to these organizations on your behalf.
  • Provide around-the-clock service. Customers expect you to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. No matter when the need arises, you will be ready.
  • Scalability. Ensure you have the ability to quickly expand when you need additional support, then adjust services back when you don’t. You should only pay for what you need when you need it.

During a recall, what you say and do matters. With the right contact center on your crisis team, chances are good you’ll weather the storm—and maybe even flourish—as a result.

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.

Focus on Customer Care to Skyrocket to Success

By Steve Brubaker, InfoCision Chief of Staff

Good customer experiences are good for business. In the past, that meant having a smile at the ready and fielding a few phone calls, but we’ve come a long way since then. Today, the customer is in control. Companies are well aware that quality of service can significantly impact their bottom line; it also determines whether customers stay with a brand, and even advocate for it.

Yet, according to the latest 2015 Forrester Research survey, most companies are still delivering just an OK experience. In fact, several industries ranked lower in customer experience than they did just six months prior, with consumers saying that their experiences were poor or very poor.

What’s preventing businesses from delivering superior customer care experiences, particularly when we’re seeing so many companies reap the benefits of a well-oiled customer service strategy?

In some cases, it’s a lack of understanding as to what makes a good experience; in others, it’s a lack of planning and implementation. Business leaders must be not only dedicated to the cause but also determined to create a plan and see it through—no small feat in light of the technology tools and human resource training that it takes to do this successfully.

Many companies are finding that they can grow faster in this area by outsourcing. A Radiant Insights research report states that the global outsourced customer care services market is projected to reach $84.7 billion by 2020, propelled in part by an increasing need for interaction through non-voice channels.

Contact centers bring to the table a wealth of knowledge about the customer care industry, as well as a specialized expertise in the related technology tools that provide deep insights into customer attitudes and buying patterns. They also offer a sophisticated set of service options (including non-voice channels), and dedicated customer service staff. Businesses that choose to outsource benefit greatly from the assistance—and gain a partner in their quest to deliver superior service.

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.