The True Importance of Work Place Diversity in Direct Marketing

There is no doubt that diversity in the workplace benefits everyone from employees to clients, and the challenge is to continue to embrace that culture; here at InfoCision, we have done, and continue to do, just that. I was able to sit down with our director of human resources, Carla Grasso and had a conversation all about how we celebrate diversity here at InfoCision and the difference it makes in our call centers.

Direct Marketing Diversity Programs

Diversity programs are about creating and maintaining an inclusive environment no matter what an employee brings to the table. When you embrace everyone’s strengths, the organization as a whole is more productive; and it also helps managers to better lead their teams because they have a better grasp on whom their employees are and where they come from.

Diversity programs must be undertaken slowly to ensure they are done the right way, because they must include everyone regardless of ethnicity, religious beliefs, political views, etc.  In addition, changes that are made in the workplace too rapidly without proper planning run the risk of being resisted by employees.

For the program to be successful, it must fit in with the company’s current corporate culture, not attempt to change it. So starting slowly is key to getting employees to buy in to the program.

How to Get Started

Starting diversity programs may seem like a daunting task for companies that don’t have an expert in the subject matter, and especially for smaller companies without a great deal of resources.

For employers that want to start a diversity initiative but don’t have a lot of time or resources to invest, here are some easy and low-cost tips:

  1. Spotlighting diverse employees in a company newsletter or calendar
  2. Offer brown-bag lunch lectures on a diversity topic – many groups will speak for free
  3. Create affinity groups to support a specific segment of the workforce (such as women, Asian-Americans, workers with Military experience, etc.)
  4. Have a potluck where workers bring in foods and recipes from their ethnic heritage
  5. Announce local events that support diversity on your bulletin board or intranet

There are even community resources available to help companies of all sizes that want to harness the power of embracing diversity.

Diversify Your Call Centers

By expanding your pool of applicants to include everyone, regardless of sex, ethnicity, religious views or anything else, you are giving your organization an advantage over the competition, because they might not be finding the same quality of applicants.

And beyond employee and productivity issues, embracing diversity can have other benefits for your company. InfoCision has several clients that are embracing diversity, and appreciate the fact that we have chosen to do so as well.

How do you feel about diversity in the work place? Any tips to getting started I missed? Get the conversation started below!

Carla Grasso is director of human resources at InfoCision Management Corporation. Reach her at carla.grasso@infocision.com.

A little appreciation goes a long way

Food, games, music and prizes might make you think of a party or festival. But here at InfoCision, it was just another day at work.Employees at our various locations celebrate with fun, food and games

Throughout the month of June, we’ve held an employee appreciation day celebration at all of our locations with a day of fun, designed to make

employees know how much the company values their hard work and dedication.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend all of these events at every one of our locations and it truly has opened my eyes to how far a little appreciation can go.

Why we tell our employees that we appreciate them

Our employees are the best in the industry, and the reason we are so successful. We want to make sure they know that the company truly appreciates all the time and effort they give.  These “fun days” are a great way for us to do that, as well as build camaraderie by allowing employees to interact in a fun, laid back setting.

I can’t explain how much I love going to events like these because I really get to show every employees at each and every one of our call centers how much their hard work is valued. Our employees work extremely hard, and it’s important to let them know we appreciate it. I’ve said it more times than I can remember, but it’s only because it’s the truth: employees that feel appreciated and valued are going to work harder and at InfoCision we try to make sure that happens!

But don’t just take my word for it; according to a case study by Kim Harrison of Cutting Edge PR, “the cost of extremely negative or ‘actively disengaged’ workers comprises about 10% of the US Gross Domestic Product annually.”  And according to Harrison, Sears recently found that “for every 5% increase in employee attitude scores, they saw a 1-3% increase in customer satisfaction and a 0.5% increase in revenue.”

These numbers can have a big impact on your bottom line, especially when the mood of your employees comes across clearly to the people on the other end of the phone.  So make a point to let your employees know that their work is appreciated, and you’ll find that some small gestures can go a long way.

 

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.

InfoCision: A top place to work in Northeast Ohio; and how your company can become one too

As I travel around to our 13 locations to celebrate our annual Employee Appreciation Days with our wonderful staff, it is an interesting coincidence that I just learned that The Plain Dealer has named InfoCision one of 25 Top Workplaces in Northeast Ohio for the third consecutive year, among large employers.

We want to be THE employer of choice in every community where we operate and our Employee Appreciation Days are just one of the many things we do to create a positive working environment for our employees. We also have programs like on-site fitness centers, on-site wellness clinics, on-site or subsidized child care, tuition reimbursement, a well-defined career progression path and a host of other employee programs. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive programs to make your employees feel appreciated. Here are several inexpensive programs anyone can take advantage of:

  • EAP Program
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Dependent day care savings plan
  • Discounted classes through local universities
  • Time off to volunteer
  • Healthy food choices in vending machines
  • Health fairs
  • Open door policy
  • Suggestion boxes
  • Employee forums

Making it onto a list like this is wonderful validation for us, because it is compiled based on surveys of employees by an independent vendor. It shows that employees really do appreciate it when the company goes above and beyond to help them succeed – not just at work, but also in their personal lives.

What workplace programs do you have that your employees really appreciate?  By sharing ideas, we can all create an environment of happy, healthy employees. And check back next week, when I blog about all the fun I’ve had at our Employee Appreciation Days and the statistics that provide the ammo for why these programs work.

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

More than lip service: Quality involves detailed analysis

InfoCision’s commitment to quality never wavered through its growth and expansion. “Our goal is to deliver our clients the highest possible return on investment, and our commitment to quality has enabled us to produce superior results,” says Brian Feisthamel, director of quality assurance at InfoCision.

InfoCision actively demonstrates its belief in quality through its quality assurance process called Q3®, an evaluation system that provides instantaneous feedback to call center employees.

Quality monitoring is invaluable because it provides feedback for Communicators so they understand how to improve, which can lead to increased sales or donations, or higher customer service levels. The ability to customize a program on the fly to meet client needs is a key differentiator for InfoCision. In fact, it played a role in InfoCision securing a multimillion dollar contract with a leading national wireless provider; now one of InfoCision’s largest clients.

Quality assurance also plays a part in InfoCision’s ability to expand rapidly to meet client demand. In the last 10 years, InfoCision has added 24 call centers and more than 3,000 employees. Being able to match the quality and performance of its existing centers within the first month of operation is a real game changer.

The Q3® system involves a threetiered evaluation process, Feisthamel explains. The process scores call center agents at multiple levels and involves 112 individuals across all InfoCision locations.

To ensure consistency among these three sets of evaluators, InfoCision conducts monthly calibration exercises and accuracy ratings. “The Q3® system was developed to ensure we have checks and balances in place and that all procedures, corporately as well as for our clients, are handled properly,” he noted.

This is an excerpt from InfoCision Marketing Solutions Magazine, Fall 2011.

Dialing on your behalf: What to consider about outsourcing call center operations

In this day and age, every company should recognize that having a strong brand is essential to success. But recognition alone doesn’t necessarily translate into effective practice. Brand isn’t just a logo, letterhead or corporate identity. It’s not even the product. Brand is how an individual feels about a company.

No matter what the product or service, a company’s image and brand is shaped by what the customer hears on the other end of the line. On the one hand, your contact center can be a priceless resource that sustains and cultivates loyal customers. On the other hand, one bad experience can undo a year’s worth of great customer service. For this reason, when looking to outsource your call center operations, selecting the right outsourcing partner is no less important than
selecting the employees who work in your own offices. But how do you know when the time has come to outsource?

Many organizations could save money by outsourcing call center services; however, they should thoroughly analyze all costs involved, from both sides of the fence, says Dana Allender, vice president of new business development at InfoCision.

“When looking at whether to outsource or not, companies really need to take a look at the hidden costs of making their own calls, such as hiring, human resources and benefits,” he says.

The cost to hire a single new employee can be as much as $5,000, including the employee’s wages and benefits, recruiting costs and training.

“We’ve found that more times than not, when you look at these costs, outsourcing to a company like InfoCision is generally less costly than performing these services in-house,” Allender says.

Outsourcing also enables the organization to concentrate on what it does best, its core business, by relieving it of extraneous call center issues. It also makes call volume flexibility and scalability possible. For example, when a smaller in-house call center sees a large increase in its call volume, it could take a few days or even a few weeks to bring in additional employees, leading to lost calls, sales and customers. On the flip side, if the in-house call center is experiencing a downturn in calls, the company might have to let people go and deal with the layoffs’ effects on morale internally and image externally.

A larger call center like InfoCision, on the other hand, has the experience and resources to handle the rises and dips in call volume effortlessly so prospects consistently receive exceptional customer service.

An outsourcing partner can also bring experience and knowledge to the customer service table. InfoCision’s Communicators have industry-high call center tenure rates of more than four years on average. Seventy-five percent are full time, and all Communicators work an average of 35 hours per week. They also receive detailed program-specific training so they become experts on the client’s program they are working on.

This is an excerpt from InfoCision Marketing Solutions Magazine, Fall 2011.