Career Path Progression

A dead end. The one thing no one wants to run into, especially when it comes to their career. I have been extremely lucky to have been with the same company as long as I have, but I have talked to plenty of colleagues and friends who have left jobs for the simple reason that they felt “stuck”. No one wants to work at a place where they feel there is no room to grow or foster a career. The truth is, you would be hard pressed to find someone who is willing to stay at the same job with the same company for many years without any potential to advance professionally.

We celebrated our 30th anniversary as a company earlier this year, and we have always had a strong history of hiring from within to fill open positions, and we are proud of it!

I have benefited personally, along with the majority of our senior staff, by starting our careers as Communicators or as entry-level supervisor or account representatives in the company’s various call centers and divisions.  Over the years, as InfoCision has experienced success with internal hiring, we developed a program to formalize the process called the Career Path Progression Program.  As employees move up through the ranks, they bring with them a unique understanding for the specific responsibilities of the employees now in their supervision, because they held similar positions themselves.   Everywhere you look at InfoCision there are living examples of the many career opportunities offered, showing our new employees there is room to grow.  This results in happier employees who are willing to invest their careers in the company long-term, resulting in strong staff retention.

Growing with the company

We do have to admit, the opportunity for career advancement isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when a potential employee thinks of the teleservice industry, but we are breaking that perception. Our Career Path Progression Program is a huge success, and we can really see the results as we have one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry.

Clearly, employees want to work not only for a growing company, but also for a company they can grow with.  I frequently share examples of the innovative technology and proprietary solutions we offer at InfoCision.  It is truly the people who work with us though, who make all the difference.  Our clients certainly benefit from our dedicated and loyal team of experts!

Opt-out confirmation text messages deemed legal by the FCC

text messagesLast week, the FCC issued a ruling stating that it is legal to send a one-time text message to confirm that someone has opted out of receiving future text messages from a specific organization.  This had been an issue of great interest within the direct marketing industry, as mobile marketing is becoming more and more popular as a meaningful way of contacting customers.

The issue stemmed from a case last year where a consumer sued a direct marketing organization that had sent a follow-up text to confirm his opt-out, and they settled out of court rather than fighting it, setting a bad precedent for the industry.

I applaud the FCC for a very reasonable and responsible decision in allowing follow-up messages to be utilized to confirm opt-out requests for consumers.  When considering that the consumers being contacted had expressly opted in to receiving the messages at some point in the recent past, and were receiving text messages from the organization in a completely legal way, it was a bit frightening that the direct marketer could face disciplinary measures for confirming opt-outs.  Frankly, opt-out confirmation messages are a valuable service that the direct marketing organization is providing to the consumer so that they can be 100% sure that their opt-out request has been received.  To penalize a direct marketer for providing this service would – simply put – be senseless.

To read more on this, there is a good article in AdWeek.

In addition, you can get more information on the ruling by visiting the blog of Michele Shuster of MacMurray, Peterson and Shuster, industry legal experts.

Rapid Response Routing – Customer Service for the NOW Generation

In the evolving world of direct interactive marketing, we are faced with great challenges and opportunities brought on by innovative digital communication technologies.  The combination of the internet and mobile devices has created a world where we have all become accustomed to having every bit of information we need right at the tip of our fingers.  And when – for some reason – we are unable to find the information we need right away, it is actually a bit unsettling.

So why is it that when making a request for information online, consumers wait on average 48-72 hours for a response?  This may have been appropriate ten, or even five years ago.  But today, we are committing a marketing sin if we allow a customer or potential customer to wait any length of time for information about our products and services.  The technology is out there that allows us to be able to reach out to those customers immediately – drastically improving customer service and maximizing our potential to make a sale, because we have contacted the consumer when their interest in the product or service is at its peak.

Technological innovation enables us to satisfy the NOW generation

At InfoCision, we have invested Rapid Response Routingin a proprietary service for our clients called Rapid Response Routing (R3), which increases response time by creating a continuous flow for the request, eliminating the time-consuming process of manually pulling customer information. So when a consumer on your website clicks to request more information, their contact information is sent directly to InfoCision’s system, which pings the self-reported  data  against our national consumer database to append additional demographic, psychographic and transactional information. If it’s part of the campaign strategy, the data can be scored to produce a customized offer. The information is sent to the most qualified InfoCision Communicator who calls them – and all within a minute or two of the consumer making the online request. The results have been tremendous – but don’t just take my word for it…

A recent case study on R3 shows how impressive the results have been for one of our valued clients.  Prior to InfoCision handling the program, the client’s average callback time for internet requests was several hours or longer. After Rapid Response Routing (R3) was implemented, 90 percent of online requests were responded to in less than 3 minutes – with an average callback time of 2.75 minutes. This surpassed the client’s goal of having 80 percent of their customers called back in 3-5 minutes. In addition to the remarkably fast average response time, R3 also increased efficiencies and sales by creating a positive customer experience that allowed for upsell and cross sell opportunities. These additional sales helped to reduce the cost per unit by 26 percent.

Click here to view a webinar on Rapid Response Routing (R3).

This is just one example of a service we’ve created to satisfy today’s NOW generation across vertical segments, including education, financial and other commercial markets. Companies that want to thrive into the future must find ways to reach their customers and potential customers in a fast and meaningful way.  I’d be interested to hear from any readers how you are finding ways to get people the information they need NOW.

Data and its impact on customer experiences

In business, there are few things as important as a customer’s experience. The customer service you provide has a huge impact on the overall perception people have when dealing with your organization. Often times, companies and organizations have collected plenty of data on their customers and donors, but are unsure what exactly to do with it.  Here at InfoCision, we have access to more information than ever, with a database that includes 205 million records, 132 million households and 40 million distinct phone numbers. We are able to take that data, and that of our client’s to create a great customer experience. Advances in technology are bringing companies and their customers closer together but how to go about doing that can seem overwhelming, so that’s why I recently sat down with InfoCision Vice President of IT Client Services Mike Herston to get a better understanding of this “big data” and how it can be used to positively impact the customer experience.

Using data to add a personal touch – Mike Herston

Wouldn’t you love to learn more about the customers you’re calling or those who are calling you? Determine the best time to call? Map their purchasing behavior and patterns? With today’s technology, it is entirely possible. Tests have proven that predictive modeling can have a positive impact on acquisition calls by improving file performance and driving down costs.

InfoCision Vice President of IT Client Services Mike Herston

On one 95,000 call test we conducted, the response rate increased by over 21 percent and the revenue per call increased by over 17 percent (compared to the control). These results were well above the goals for the program, and allowed further penetration into lower-performing records.

Every call is a reflection on your company and an opportunity to build a lasting relationship with your customer. Pre-built statistical models can be used to tailor our Communicator’s scripts using real-time inscription technology that help them focus on the call and building that relationship. We can actually tailor a script based on the fact that we know someone is male or female, or if we know their age range. We can tailor a script to a household that has a presence of children. The whole idea is that it allows us to deliver a script that resonates with the person we’re calling.

When it comes to making things personal, organizing your data can make all the difference. I know from my own experience, I’d much rather have somebody sell me something that’s within my economic means as opposed to something that’s not. It’s also beneficial to know what I’ve purchased in the past so I can be made aware of any offers that are aligned to those types of products or services. Business Intelligence not only allows us to provide a great experience for new customers, but it also helps us rekindle relationships with customers or donors that may be at risk for churn. On a recent campaign for a wireless client where we utilized both Business Intelligence and multichannel strategies, we saw the cost to save a customer drop from $127.04 in the control group to just $14.65 per customer in the test group. While at the same time an additional 138,400 customers were saved.

Companies need to strategically align themselves with partners that can help them leverage the growing amount of data available. We make a lot of calls, and that gives us a lot of past behaviors to model depending on what the client’s goal is. Let me put it this way, we don’t operate on the one-size-fits-all model.

For more information on the Business Intelligence Group or other InfoCision IT services contact Mike Herston at (330) 668-1400 or mike.herston@infocision.com

Papa John’s faces lawsuit for mobile marketing compliance violations

mobile marketing complianceLately it seems that as every week that goes by, we hear of a company facing legal or regulatory action for failing to adhere to the strict compliance guidelines that govern the direct marketing industry.  This week a rather unlikely name is in the news for mobile marketing compliance violations:  Papa John’s Pizza.

As reported in several publications, Papa John’s is the subject of a class action lawsuit for sending numerous text messages to its customers without getting prior express verifiable consent.  Papa John’s was using a third party company to send out the text messages, and it appears they may not have been intricately aware of that company’s methods.  While Papa John’s denies fault in the case, many are estimating this could be the largest payout ever for such a violation, as more than 500,000 illegal text messages were sent.

Know your direct marketing partner

So what can companies that utilize direct marketing services take away from this case?  First, it is imperative to obtain express verifiable consent before contacting any consumer on their mobile device.  But since that is clearly part of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, direct marketing providers should be keenly aware of that fact.

The bigger takeaway is just how important it is to truly know your direct marketing services provider.  With the myriad of laws and regulations that govern the industry, no company or organization should allow someone to send out marketing messages on their behalf without total faith that they are crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” when it comes to regulatory compliance, as well as operating in a manner that is ethical to consumers.  If they are not, it can create significant liability for a company, even one as large and well-known as Papa John’s; and it can level mountains of good will built over many years.

So before signing on with a direct marketing partner, make sure you do your homework and verify that they not only understand the regulatory environment of the industry, but have systems in place to ensure that all campaigns maintain strict compliance.

DMA 2012 Conference in Las Vegas: Stop by InfoCision’s booth 425

As the year begins to wind down (I can’t believe how quickly 2012 has gone!) it is time once again for the annual Direct Marketing Association conference DMA 2012.

dma 2012Although I will not be personally attending this year’s conference, InfoCision will have a large presence there with a booth and four staff members. I know they are eager to hit the conference floor to say hi to some old friends, and make new ones.

We have something to offer businesses of all shapes and sizes, and we’re here to help your organization grow and succeed, so stop by booth 425 to meet with one of our experts, or give them a call to set up a meeting.

Curt Cramblett, vice president of new business development

Rob Sine, director of new business development

Dawn Keathley, director of new business development

Tom Hissong, manager of new business development

All four will be available to discuss InfoCision’s products and services, so if you’re going to be at the conference, stop by booth 425 and say hi! PLUS, We’ll also be giving away some special prizes throughout the conference so follow the DMA Conference on Twitter #DMA2012 and InfoCision on Twitter and LinkedIn and look for our Las Vegas trivia questions. You could win a Starbucks gift card in the morning to help you wake up, or a drink on us in the afternoon to help you relax after a long day in sessions.

I know our team is excited for this year’s event and I wish them and everyone attending a great conference and safe traveling!

The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing: Molding the future of the industry

Every college student has that “ah-ha” moment.  That instance where they finally understand everything their professors have been trying to teach them over the course of a semester.  In many cases it’s that moment when the student is able to look at the information they were given and think about how it could be applied in a real-world scenario.  That moment is what InfoCision founders, Gary and Karen Taylor had in mind when they helped to create The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron in 2004.

I recently made a stop at The University of Akron to meet with staff about our annual InterAction event where The Taylor Institute awards the prestigious Direct Marketer of the Year.  Classes started at the university on Monday and it was a pleasure to see all of the students buzzing around the campus, getting ready to start the semester.  Every time I visit, it seems more and more students are taking an interest in The Taylor Institute and, as a board member, I can’t express how thrilled that makes me!

The Taylor Institute focuses on e-marketing, direct response advertising, direct marketing management, multi-channel marketing, integrated marketing communications, direct mail applications and call center services using the latest in technology with a fully functional call center, video lab studio and much more.  The University of Akron College Of Business offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with concentrations in direct interactive marketing and integrated marketing communications to prepare students for the ever-changing world of marketing.

Where Theory Meets Practice

My personal favorite part of The Taylor Institute is the fact that the students get to see how they will utilize the skills they are learning after they graduate.  The professors include in the curriculum partnerships with practitioners who have current, first-hand experience in the world of interactive marketing.  Students are provided the opportunity to take what they learn in the classroom and implement it into working on real projects for real companies.

If you would like to see The Taylor Institute first hand please join us at InterAction 2012 taking place at The University of Akron on September 28 at Noon.  This year we will be honoring Mr. Thomas M. Richmond, the dynamic President of Little Tikes Worldwide with our Direct Marketer of the Year Award.  Tickets are $35 for individuals or a corporate sponsorship of $250, for a table for eight.  For more information please call Brenda Papoi at (330) 972-8228.

I’ll see you there…

Turning Customer Care Calls into Cross-Selling Opportunities

All companies want to keep their customers happy. Finding the right balance of effective customer care while trying to keep costs low can be a challenging for any organization. The numbers that show customer loyalty and brand image being boosted by customer care are not always clearly visible and easy to measure.

With that in mind, there are ways to change customer care into easily measurable, profit-generating activities that make it easier for companies to justify customer care expenditures.

That’s where the InfoCision attitude comes into play. It’s simple really; it’s all about philosophy and opportunity.

Recently an article featuring one of our staff members, Paul Derbyshire, director of operations strategy, was published through the prestigious media outlet TMCnet. Paul talked all about how if the situation is handled correctly, you can turn a customer care call into an opportunity to increase your sales.

In fact, we’ve seen examples where after adding a series of cross-sell opportunities, the client’s customer care was essentially free. When a client receives profit for a call that used to be an expense, everyone wins.

What are your opinions on cross-selling? Can cross-selling truly generate profit? Leave a comment below and tell me how you or your organization views the cross-selling process!

Paul Derbyshire is director of operations strategy at InfoCision Management Corporation. Reach him at paul.derbyshire@infocision.com.

Satisfying the Customer Service Needs of the NOW Generation

People want things NOW!  I know I’m guilty of this myself.

With close to 79% of Americans online according to Internet World Stats, the need to engage customers and potential customers immediately is more important than ever, especially with the incredible growth of mobile devices and tablets.

The other day I was on various websites checking out different vacation packages. A couple of the sites gave you the option of submitting a request for additional information, which I did…If I would have gotten a phone call while I was on their site, the odds of me booking with them would have certainly increased!

InfoCision recently hosted a webinar on a service we offer that will do just what I needed when I was on those vacation sites – we can call people within seconds of them submitting their contact information online.

And because the customer’s needs are being met immediately, they feel positive about the interaction and are more open to hearing about and signing up for additional services and products. For one of our clients this has led to a 26 percent decrease in their cost per unit.

The Customer Service Message

At InfoCision, we strive to create the very best experience for our clients’ customers and our R3 service allows us to do just that. In researching for the webinar I ran across some interesting information I’d like to share with you. Did you know that within the first hour of someone submitting their information online, the odds of contacting them decreases by over 10 times? But, if you call them within five minutes the odds of getting a hold of them increases 100 times!

There’s more great info like this in the webinar so if you have about 45 minutes to check it out here. And please, feel free to stop back here and let me know what you think.

Welcome to The Right Call

Welcome to The Right Call!  In conjunction with InfoCision’s brand new website at www.infocision.com, we are also rolling out a new blog that we hope will be a marketplace for ideas in the call center and direct marketing industries.

At InfoCision, we have industry-leading experts on staff who are committed to providing their teams with the tools to deliver outstanding results for our clients.  These senior management team leaders will be offering advice and applicable tips that we have found helpful in our daily business operations, hiring efforts, strategic decision making and much more.

And we hope that our new website will be a valuable resource for companies and organizations looking for a direct marketing and/or call center partner; as well as job seekers who are looking for a meaningful career in the variety of positions that we employ.  For both groups, the new website should give you a good idea of our company culture, our family-friendly culture and our commitment to excellence and quality in all we do.

I encourage you to look the website over, and then contact us further if you would like more information on whether InfoCision is “The Right Call” for you.  I also encourage you to check www.the-right-call.com often to engage in some meaningful dialogue about a host of topics related to our industry.

 

Steve Brubaker

Chief of Staff

InfoCision