Hollywood Studios Struggle to Find Marketing Sweet Spot

Often times, when major motion pictures are declared successes or flops in the media, the measurement used is simply how much money the film brought in at the box office versus how much it cost the studio to make. But according to an article from “The Hollywood Reporter” rising marketing costs are causing these studios major headaches.

The story states that global marketing costs for major motion pictures are skyrocketing, having reached approximately $200 million on average for summer blockbusters. That number represents a 33 percent increase since 2007, when the marketing spend for these big-budget films was around $150 million.

“Marketing is the single most discussed and debated issue in Hollywood,” said CBS Films chief Terry Press in the article.

The piece covers several factors contributing to rapidly growing marketing expenses, including the rising price of television advertising and the struggle studios experience in trying to budget spending in the U.S., where box office numbers are declining. But another reason given is the slow adjustment the industry is making in embracing multichannel marketing solutions and digital advertising.

A recent joint survey commissioned by Nielsen and Twitter found that 87 percent of Twitter users were influenced in their most recent movie choice by the social media site and that that 62 percent of moviegoers used the Internet or mobile apps to learn about films. Nonetheless, studios rarely spend more than $10 million on digital marketing.

“We have to be more inventive about how we reach consumers,” said Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. marketing chief in the Hollywood Reporter piece. “Moviegoers are very savvy. You have to figure out new ways of appealing to them. We are seeing significant changes in the way we spend across all platforms. It’s a patchwork quilt. It never gets boring.”

So what lessons can businesses take from Hollywood’s struggles? The most important takeaway is that marketing is rapidly evolving to include more channels, and if your company isn’t committed to keeping up, it risks spending inefficiently and forfeiting potential profits.

That is not to suggest that multichannel marketing is easy. If major Hollywood studios are struggling to make the best use of their marketing dollars, many SMBs are likely to run into similar problems, albeit on a smaller scale. And that is why a multichannel marketing partner like InfoCision is so valuable.

We’ve watched the marketing landscape evolve over 30 years and understand the current trends. We can help you allocate your resources in a way that makes sense for your particular company, helping you grow your customer base and revenue along the way. InfoCision offers solutions for your social media accounts, website, telemarketing, direct mail and more. We can also provide business intelligence that helps you personalize your marketing and more effectively target your consumers and prospects.

So if your company is struggling with its marketing spending or is simply a little unsure of the direction its headed, consider reaching out to InfoCision for a helping hand. It’s not too late for your organization to get its own Hollywood ending.

Report Shows Financial Services Lagging Behind With Customer Service

Generally speaking, what people want out of a financial services organization is for that company to make them money. And while profitability will always be the name of the game in the industry, a report commissioned by Avaya entitled “Financial Services Sector: Missing Customer Expectations?” shows that many of these businesses are neglecting critical customer-facing operations.

The report is full of startling statistics, possibly none more shocking than the fact that 84 percent of organizations can only deliver on certain elements of a personalized customer experience automatically in real time and their efforts fall short of what customers now expect. It should come as no surprise, then, that the report—which includes results from both B2B and B2C businesses—also indicates that 87 percent of financial services companies saw customer experience management initiatives fail during the past three years.

So where are these organizations failing? Well according to the research, nearly half of all financial services companies struggling to provide a high quality of customer service are being held back by outdated technology and more than one-third indicated siloed departments were their primary obstacle. In other words, the data indicates that financial companies struggle with the same issues as many other U.S. businesses. 

At InfoCision, we like to deal in solutions, not dwell on problems. With that in mind, here are a few quick remedies for what ails these financial institutions:

Embrace the Omnichannel World

Customers expect to be able to contact companies—and to be contacted for special offers, etc.—on  their preferred channel, whether that is email, social media, phone, live chat or Web self-service. That means organizations essentially have two choices: offer consumers a wide array of channel options or fall behind the competition. In many cases offering channel choices may require investing in new technology or teaming with a multichannel marketing partner that can provide the solutions financial services organizations need.

Redefine the Culture

One of the most interesting facts in the Avaya report is that customer service becomes less important to respondents in middle and upper management than in the C-suite. That indicates a lack of a consistent attitude throughout these companies that must be addressed. Whether it’s through brainstorming sessions in small groups, town-hall-style gatherings or one-on-one meetings, executives must be sure their message about the customer experience permeates all levels of the organization.

Invest in Customer Analytics

The financial services industry is quite adept when it comes to using analytics to help make investments and evaluate deals, but many companies could benefit from adopting some business intelligence aimed at measuring and improving customer satisfaction. If an organization doesn’t know what frustrations customers are dealing with currently, it is nearly impossible to fix those problems.

The financial sector deals mostly in numbers, so here’s one that is likely to make an impact: according to the Avaya report, among those financial services companies with comprehensive customer experience management, 98 percent have seen improvements to their bottom line since those programs were implemented. It doesn’t get any more convincing than that.

Are You Learning From Your Customer Service Mistakes?

It’s a tale of two companies. Both firms realize they made a blunder with their customer service but they’re handling it entirely differently. Company A is proactive, addressing why the customer is upset and working to make sure the problem is permanently resolved; Company B is offering a half-hearted apology, hoping the issue never crops up again.

Nearly all companies, no matter the vertical or size, experience customer service slip-ups from time to time. However, what separates the great companies from the average ones is the ability to use information learned from those mistakes to do better in a similar situation in the future.  It could be either minor tweaks or wholesale changes; regardless, adjustments must be made to stay ahead and improve the quality of customer service—and the right call center solutions can give you a road map that helps you reach your goals.

So, how is your company going to learn from its customer service mistakes? Here are some solutions to check out:

  • Business Intelligence: By acquiring data, you can begin to learn which customer service strategies work and which shouldn’t make the cut. You can better pinpoint customer needs and improve their overall experiences. For example, InfoCision has a Business Intelligence Group that aggregates customer data obtained via phone, mail and online to help companies improve their target marketing campaigns. With this technology, companies can zero in on those customers who are more likely to buy a product. Business Intelligence also helps generate predictive models to target customers across the country based on their past purchasing behaviors.
  • Progress Reports: Quality of customer service can be enhanced greatly by developing progress reports that measure various call center activities and their effectiveness. Using state-of-the-art call center technology, call center managers can monitor agent progress by the numbers, examining customer service rep’s response rates, sales analysis and other statistics, pulling back the curtain on agent problems that must be addressed.
  • Multi-Channel Service: Just because your business model worked in the 1980s doesn’t mean that it will be successful in an ever-changing 21st century. You must be open to change and invest in modern solutions. For instance, today’s customers want information quickly and across a variety of communications channels and may grow frustrated if their preferred method of contact is unavailable. Therefore, today’s call centers are having to increasingly invest in multi-channel contact center solutions to ensure they can communicate with customers via text, live chat and email in addition to phone.

We are told our entire lives that crying over spilled milk is pointless and, although it’s a cliché, it happens to be accurate—particularly in business. Mistakes happen, but the real damage often comes when customers recognize the same slip-ups occurring repeatedly. If your company is courteous and professional in resolving a problem the first time, customers often forgive and forget. But the second time, they may choose to leave you forever.

Want to start fixing your customer service mistakes? Click here today to begin course correcting.

The Importance of Delivering Contact Center Consistency

Consistency is crucial for any aspect of brand management and operations, but it is especially important for customer service. Providing a single first-class experience is great, but if your goal is to retain customers—and it should be—you have to be confident that your contact center is delivering a high quality of customer service with every interaction. But how do you ensure that your representatives handle each inquiry with care?

Consistent customer service starts with the employees delivering that service. That’s why at InfoCision we take a unique approach to hiring and training our Communicators. When you partner with InfoCision you get more than just an employee; our contact center experts become a personal yet professional extension of your own internal team and we ensure they are fully prepared. Our Communicators:

  • Have an average age of over 40 years and an average tenure of more than 4.5 years, and 78 percent are full-time employees
  • Receive up to four months of client-specific training and are brand experts by the time training is complete
  • Are provided the opportunity to earn performance-based compensation and, as such ,are committed to the highest level of professionalism

When it comes to interactions with your business, customers have a long memory. It takes numerous positive experiences to make up for a negative one—that is, if the customer even decides to give you another chance. With that in mind, our Communicators immerse themselves in your company culture and core competencies before ever taking a call and are better equipped to handle a wide range of customer concerns as a result. Additionally, because they know your brand so well, these Communicators can consistently project the image and deliver the message that you want.

An easy way to think about best practices for contact center operations is to remember that your service is only as good as the last experience you provided. So it is critical to make sure you have experienced, professional Communicators in place to handle every call like it’s the most important your company will ever receive.

Rumors of Direct Mail’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Direct mail can get a bit of a bad rap these days. Often referred to sarcastically as “snail mail,” many people now view it as nearly obsolete.

An important distinction to make with print mail, however, is that although it is older than other channels, it is far from antiquated. That principle is supported by a plethora of recent statistics and reports, many of which reveal that consumers find print mail more personal than online communications.

Direct mail can still be extremely effective but, like a strategy for any other channel, it has to be tailored to specific consumer groups to achieve maximum impact. Customizing direct mail marketing, however, can seem like an overwhelming and time-consuming task for many companies. In that case, a multichannel marketing partner can be essential for businesses without the time or capability to drill down on data and personalize direct mail for different customer segments.

A true one-stop marketing shop has robust print solutions that fit seamlessly with phone, email, social media and other channels. Working closely alongside businesses to help them execute their strategies, these top-shelf marketing partners can actually break down information far enough—using sophisticated business intelligence—to create unique mail pieces with personalized messages for each customer.

Despite what you may hear, direct mail remains a critical ingredient for marketing success and probably will for some time. There’s a reason people generally don’t send wedding or gala invitations through email or on social media—print mail offers a personal touch other channels simply can’t match. In other words, implementing multichannel marketing solutions is always a good idea, as long as you don’t neglect the most tried-and-true method of all.

Click here to learn more about InfoCision’s print mail solutions.


Three Great Ideas for Team Building

A healthy company has numerous positive characteristics, all which help contribute to its overall success. One important concept that is sometimes overlooked, however, is the power and importance of a close-knit team of employees. When co-workers share a genuine connection, they are happier in the office and more motivated to support colleagues both inside and outside of the workplace. That closeness manifests itself by boosting your bottom line, helping with employee retention and even improving your quality of customer service, as happier workers are generally more patient and helpful.

At InfoCision, we strive to create an atmosphere where people enjoy coming to work every day. Building that kind of camaraderie takes work, but it absolutely possible if you are committed. Here are three great ways to get started:

1. Do Something Charitable

Working together to give back to the community or raise money for a good cause is a terrific way to bring people together and help them get to know each other better. For instance, recently hundreds of InfoCision employees gathered outside our corporate offices to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge and raise money for ALS research. InfoCision employees across Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania took part in the event, helping raise more than $10,000 for the ALS Association. Whether it is a clothing drive, helping out at a soup kitchen or running a 5k for a worthy cause, charity work is a wonderful bonding experience.

2. Engage in Friendly Competition

It is always fun to find out who is the table tennis, bowler or card player in the office. If you want to be truly ambitious, you could even take an afternoon off to go paintballing. Activities like these help employees spend time together outside the office in a natural setting. Of course, you never want to see anybody take these games too seriously, so just make sure everybody knows beforehand that you are playing just for fun.

3. Provide One-on-One Mentoring Opportunities

Every employee needs guidance from his or her boss and clear expectations from upper management to perform optimally. But within a department, one-on-one mentoring between colleagues can be valuable as well. This kind of relationship bonds these two workers and provides the new employee with someone he or she knows is reliable enough to be leaned on in the first few weeks, which can be stressful. Mentoring also gives the new hire a realistic look at what his or her day-to-day responsibilities will be (after all, no one is going to be able to explain the job better than somebody who has done it already).

The most successful organizations work hard to facilitate positive employee relationships that create an environment conducive to productivity and collaboration. But what team building activities your business chooses is not as important as making sure you do something. Planning these kinds of events also shows employees that upper management cares about its workers, which helps build trust and teamwork between those two groups.

Do you have any great ideas for team building? Please let us know in the comment section below!  

Cincinnati Bengals Build Organizational Unity Doing the Right Thing

We’ve discussed the importance of building a positive, family-like company culture on this blog before. The Cincinnati Bengals, an NFL team in InfoCision’s home state of Ohio, recently provided a wonderful example of how this can be accomplished.

Not long ago, Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still learned that his four-year-old daughter Leah had pediatric cancer that left her with just a 50 percent chance for long-term survival. Understandably shocked upon hearing the news, Still could not fully participate or focus on Bengals training camp and was cut from the club as a result. The 25-year-old understood and agreed with the team’s decision, until medical professionals told him that his daughter’s treatment could cost up to $1 million. Having been cut from the Bengals roster, Still was no longer insured, which made paying for treatments a tall order.

But the Bengals organization found a solution. They brought Still back as part of the club’s 10-man practice squad—a reserve of players every NFL team maintains—which allowed him to stay on the team’s insurance plan. Additionally, the team gave him permission to leave at any time to spend time with his daughter. Eventually, with the support of the team behind him and the comfort of knowing he could leave to see his daughter whenever he needed, Still was able to concentrate more on football and was actually moved to the team’s active roster for its second game of the season.

But the story didn’t end there. The Bengals also announced that proceeds from sales of Still’s jersey—which cost $100 each—would be donated to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and earmarked for pediatric cancer research. As Still’s story went national, his No. 75 jersey broke the team’s record for sales in a single day; to date, more than $500,000 has been raised from these purchases. Even other NFL teams got involved, with New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton buying 100 jerseys himself.

Still’s story went viral nationally and the Bengals received quite a bit of well-deserved positive attention, something every organizations enjoys when it happens. More than that, however, the franchise showed its players and other staffers that it views them as more than just replaceable pieces in a giant machine. The NFL can be a cold business where players are unceremoniously cut for underperforming all the time. But Bengals upper management showed that they value their employees as human beings.

So what are the takeaways from this story? First, it’s unlikely your business will be negatively impacted long-term by doing the right thing for your employees. Second, supporting your employees is actually an intelligent business move. Providing extra support—through on-site childcare or workplace wellness programs, for instance—may cost a little extra upfront, but happier employees are more productive, loyal and better able to deliver a high quality of customer service. In other words, when it comes to your employees, doing the right thing and the smart thing are usually one and the same.

Voice Interactions and Quality Reps Still Reign in the Contact Center

On this blog we frequently discuss how critical it is that contemporary businesses employ multichannel marketing and customer service solutions. Indeed, customers increasingly expect to be able to reach a company via their preferred channel, meaning a multi-channel approach is essential to providing a high quality of customer service.

Still, voice remains the most popular channel for customer service. Approximately 90 percent of consumers aged 18-65 indicated they speak with live representatives at least some of the time, according to a recent survey from MarketingCharts. So although we certainly live in a multichannel world, quality service representatives are still the cornerstone of a top-notch contact center.

Recognizing that quality agents are critical to great phone interactions is a good first step, but pinpointing exactly what that means—and figuring out how to execute a strategy—is a different matter entirely. Particularly for those companies delving into the contact center space for the first time or expanding their current hub, creating a first-class service environment can seem like a daunting task. So let’s break down this issue into three distinct ingredients for high-quality phone service:

Hire the Right Kind of People

We all know it takes a certain kind of person to succeed in the customer service space. Workers who possess a combination of work experience, commitment to the job, unwavering patience and a calm demeanor are certainly more likely to meet and overcome challenges. Even if it takes a little extra time to find the right kind of people for your contact center, the extra effort is worth it. One negative interaction can make a customer feel as if he or she is not valued by your company, which makes loyalty and retention difficult.

Give Representatives the Tools They Need

Even the most well-trained, highly-qualified agents are limited in what they can achieve without modern tools. For instance, customer relationship management and other technologies puts customer information at their representatives’ fingertips, allowing them to give consumers a more personal touch and increasing the odds any problems are resolved quickly and effectively.

Invest in Robust Agent Training

Providing new representatives with a “crash course” for just a few days will cost more time and money than extra training in the long run. Simply put, effective agents understand the core competencies and product offerings of the companies they represent. One of the most common reasons customers abandon calls is that they feel the agent isn’t knowledgeable about the company and its offerings. Meanwhile, one-third of inbound contact centers still have no processes in place to protect customers’ interests by making them aware of products or services that may help them, according to Dimension Data’s 2013-14 contact center benchmarking report. Protecting those interests starts with connecting them with knowledgeable agents.

InfoCision has been a trailblazer in the contact center space for decades, and our wide array of solutions can help your company climb all the barriers to first-class customer service. For more information about how InfoCision can help you achieve excellent voice interactions with high-quality agents, check out this Customer Magazine profile on InfoCision Chief of Staff Steve Brubaker.

Are All Your Departments Working Together?

Using a Band-Aid to cover up recurring issues and inquiries simply won’t cut it anymore in customer service. Today’s contact centers need to do more—and it all starts by collecting customer service feedback. Such input can be used to improve existing processes across an entire company, thereby driving contact center services ROI.

For instance, if feedback reveals that there’s a consistent mistake in the billing department and customers are calling about it repeatedly, then the contact center needs to recognize this trend and alert the necessary personnel. In many ways the contact center can serve as the gatekeeper for customer sentiment, helping to educate other divisions about ways they can do their jobs more effectively and remedy common customer issues.

To enable the contact center to hold such a role, companies ought to invest in a state-of-the-art call center solution that can aggregate and decipher data, making it easier to address problems in real-time, or close to it. After all, if you don’t invest in the latest technology, customers might not return; in fact, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience according to a CEI survey.

So how can you make sure your contact center is looping in other departments, working together to ensure that consumers get the quality of customer service they demand? Let’s took a look at a two critical ingredients to making sure all of your divisions are rowing in the same direction:

Program Reports: The more information captured from callers, including their common complaints and queries, the easier it is for departments like billing or product development to make adjustments and course correct. For example, InfoCision offers numerous standard reports that analyze crucial aspects of a call center program. These reports look at customer information updates, fulfillment activity, agent-call distribution, call disposition, sales analysis and more. If there’s a common thread through these reports—for example, if customers repeatedly say their packages are not arriving in time for the holidays—then the contact center is able to loop in the delivery department, which can investigate the issue and resolve it quickly, instead of weeks or months down the road.

Customizable Solutions: With flexible software, your contact center can create comprehensive customer profiles with information that is important for your company. For instance, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, such as InfoCision’s Inscription, will better serve your customers’ needs by tracking and recording interactions. Sales personnel and C-level executives can utilize this data to pinpoint ongoing customer trends and identify growth opportunities. For instance, your CRM adds value to every single call when your agents end interactions by asking customers what issues the company should focus on for the remainder of the year. Based on those responses, reps can gather the information with the state-of-the-art software and relay it to the correct department.

Interested in learning more about improving your contact center services ROI? Check out InfoCision’s call center solutions today!

Score Customer Service and Marketing Touchdowns This Season with InfoCision

Are you ready for some football? For millions of Americans excited about this NFL season, the answer is surely a resounding, “yes.” Fans hopeful to see their team hoist the championship Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season understand that the team that wins the title will work seamlessly together as a unit to do so.

Each player has a specific job he is assigned that plays well to his strengths and away from his weaknesses. As the season gets ready to kick off, business executives can take some inspiration from football for their customer service experts.

For instance, just because your company offers a better product or service than the competition doesn’t mean contact center customer service falls within your area of expertise. But considering how critical the customer experience is to today’s consumers, it should always be a point of emphasis.

Like a player on a championship football team, if you aren’t comfortable with a “do it yourself” approach to customer service it may make sense to partner with a strategic partner like InfoCision that offers top-of-the-line contact center technology designed to improve customer service, as well as a host of multichannel marketing solutions. Your reliable teammate can pick up the slack in areas outside of your core competencies, such as:

  • Omnichannel service and marketing that includes phone, direct mail, social media, email and other options
  • Call center technology that includes skills-based routing, call blending, IVR, remote call monitoring and more
  • Robust quality assurance that keeps contact centers running at a high level at all times

In business, as on the football field, having a capable teammate backing you up is a comforting feeling. So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, it might be the perfect time to partner up with InfoCision and let us help push you over the goal line and into the end zone.