Quality Assurance Drives Higher Return on Your Contact Center Investment

From improving customer service levels to aiding in brand management, the benefits of a comprehensive quality assurance system can have a big impact on the bottom line of your programs

quality assuranceIn business, the word “quality” is often thrown around. But what does “quality” really mean in the contact center industry and what are the benefits for companies who utilize high quality teleservices provider.

Having a robust and comprehensive quality monitoring and assurance program helps to provide companies with a higher return on investment through a number of different avenues, according to Brian Feisthamel, director of quality assurance at InfoCision Management Corporation, including:

  • Increasing customer satisfaction and Communicator productivity by ensuring that all necessary information is being captured correctly on each call.
  • Helping Communicators understand how to improve their techniques so they can better connect with the customer from the first phone call, which leads to increased sales and donations.
  • Aiding in brand management by ensuring that all agents are consistently delivering the same messaging and a high quality customer/donor experience.
  • Allowing quality assurance staff to recognize opportunities to improve scripts, which can help drive additional revenue through increased cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
  • Ensuring the ability to quickly scale up and match existing quality and performance metrics.

Read more from Feisthamel on how quality assurance provides a boost to ROI http://www.elabs6.com/c.html?ufl=6&rtr=ons=eju,14k5f,4rew,g7p2,hl7m,8qfr,cwk8

We’d love to hear your thoughts on call center quality, so please leave a comment with your tips or suggestions.

State reports on fundraising are easily misinterpreted

fundraisingRecent reports have called into question the relationship between professional fundraisers such as InfoCision and the nonprofit organizations they represent; asserting that, based on information from state mandated fundraising disclosures provided to state Attorneys General, professional fundraisers are keeping a  percentage of the funds raised. In InfoCision’s case, nothing could be further from the truth. Please see our website for our full statement on this issue.

A similar report recently made headlines in Vermont, and I want to draw to your attention to this story in the Burlington Free Press because it is a great example of how Attorney General (AG) reports can be misinterpreted; and paint good organizations in a negative light. According to the AG report, “Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont (PFFV) raised $1.4 million through FireCo., LLC of Franklin, Tenn., of which $314,256, or 22 percent, went to the charity, and 78 percent, or about $1.1 million, went to FireCo.”  Rightly so, both the PFFV and FireCo. have called the report misleading. “We’re in dispute with the attorney general,” said Matt Vinci, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont. “The way he’s put percentages out, they do not depict our operation.”  But when later asked to expand on the report, Vermont AG William Sorrell stated, “They’ve got employee and overhead costs, we’re not trying to suggest the paid fundraiser pockets 68 cents or 84 cents of every dollar,” Sorrell said.

An issue with the state mandated disclosures is that they fail to take into account the type of campaign that was run, overhead and other factors, and that makes them nearly impossible to accurately interpret. Many, many nonprofit organizations utilize professional fundraisers to raise funds on their behalf because it is the most cost effective way to raise funds on a larger scale. As Vinci says in the article, “We couldn’t have a bunch of firefighters doing this level of work (as volunteers).”

So please, when you see these reports, make sure you know the whole story before drawing your own conclusions. As I’ve said before, the true measure of whether any charitable organization is a good steward of the funds with which it is entrusted is the Nonprofit’s Form 990 filed each year with the IRS. Form 990 provides a comprehensive summary of what percentage of money a charitable organization spends towards its goals and mission, typically 75%, and the percentage used for administrative costs, which includes fundraising, and is typically the remaining 25%.

I encourage you to read a recent article in CUSTOMER magazine that details the role professional fundraising plays in helping charitable organizations accomplish their goals and mission.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question you may have on professional fundraising. One way for the truth to come out is to have an educated dialogue and I welcome your thoughts.

Celebrating the Holidays at InfoCision Company Christmas Parties

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on the road going to InfoCision’s company Christmas parties at each of our locations throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada, along with other members of the senior leadership team.  I can’t even begin to tell you what a good time we’ve been having, and how great it has been to see all of our wonderful employees getting together to have some fun and celebrate the holidays.  You can see some of the great pictures of our teams below.

Christmas collage2

 

In case there is anyone I did not get a chance to greet on my travels, I wish each and every one of InfoCision’s outstanding employees – and anyone reading this blog – a very merry and blessed Christmas and a happy New Year!

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

Sign the March of Dimes petition to light the White House purple

Sign the March of Dimes petition to light the White House purple to celebrate the organization’s 75 years of fighting for healthier babies.

March of Dimes petitionThe March of Dimes, is collecting petitions in an effort to light the White House in purple on January 3, 2013, to honor the 75th anniversary of the founding of the March of Dimes by President Franklin Roosevelt, and as a symbol of hope for families whose children have been born too soon.

They still need about 2,200 more petitions signed by the end of the day TODAY!  I am strongly encouraging everyone I talk to today to sign this petition to applaud the March of Dimes for all it has done in creating healthier babies and happier families in its 75 years of existence.  It’s our turn to show our appreciation for them out by signing the petition so that the March of Dimes can be recognized in a meaningful way to celebrate all of its success, and give hope to those who still need a miracle of their own.

To sign the petition, please follow the simple steps below:

  1. Click this link: http://wh.gov/klxh.
  2. Enter your email address, name, zip code and re-type the security code listed at the bottom of the page.
  3. Wait for the verification email from whitehouse.gov to arrive in your inbox.
  4. Click the link in the email to verify your email address, which will open a new webpage.
  5. In that webpage, click the link that says “Sign This Petition.”
  6. You are finished!

It should take you only a few minutes to complete these steps, and I strongly encourage you to take the time to sign the petition.  Also, please share this with your family and friends today!  Together, we can make a difference!

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.

TCPA Legal Action Thrown Out

Recently, I came across a blog post about a TCPA class action lawsuit that was thrown out for being frivolous to say the least.

Without getting into too much detail, a man recently tried to sue Citibank, claiming that its direct marketing efforts were a violation of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The man claimed that he contacted Citibank in May of 2011 to apply for a credit card. As part of the application process, he gave his cell phone number to the bank and a few days later he received a text message with a promotion for Citi Cards (Citibank’s credit card). That message said he had the opportunity to opt out of future text messages by simply replying with the word “stop.” He did this, and Citibank sent him a final text, confirming that he would no longer receive promotions through the text message program. The man then proceeded to file suit in the Southern District of California, where he argued that the final confirmation text message violated the TCPA.

Now, if the man had opted out of the text message program and continued to receive promotions, I could very easily understand why he would be upset. That would be a direct violation of the law and his rights would have been considered to be infringed upon, but this simply was not the case.  The ruling in this case helps set a precedent and protects the industry from frivolous lawsuits like this in the future.

New Technology in Contact Centers

The teleservice industry is continuing to evolve and as direct marketers, we must adapt to the way consumers choose to connect with us. The digital age is thriving and things like text messages, email and social media are becoming more and more popular mediums of communication with consumers. When I look at this particular case, I am encouraged to see the judge’s decision reflects a balance in protecting the rights of consumer privacy with that of legitimate business interests.

With all of this being said, I think it is important that call centers, like InfoCision, understand our role in all of this. We have to remain compliant and follow the regulations that are in place. Here at InfoCision, we have invested millions of dollars in technology and dedicated resources to ensure all of our campaigns comply fully with all applicable laws and regulations, including the TCPA and the Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR).  We also have to be aware that our industry is unfortunately often under scrutiny. Violations by a few bad actors could ultimately result in more restrictions on our business. The new advances in technology are enabling us to expand consumer choice and create a superior customer service experience.