Marketing and Sales, They Go Hand in Hand

It is certainly logical to expand your contact center capabilities to light a fire during a new sales campaign. It also makes sense, in the customer-centric world we live in, to be prepared with extra support for customer service agents tasked with putting fires out.

But in the hustle to provide additional support for a demanding sales force and overwhelmed service department, it is often the case that marketing gets left in the dust.

Businesses that hope to succeed in a connected, interoperable world cannot afford to compartmentalize in this fashion. In fact, when the right contact center solutions are deployed at the right time, you’ll be able to break down silos so that your marketing, sales and service initiatives work to build each other up for maximum impact.

Continuous feedback for real-time response

As the nerve center of your business, the contact center is an optimal place for marketing and sales to converge. Your contact center can conduct personalized inbound or outbound marketing efforts around a new initiative, gathering real-time feedback from consumers and responding to inquiries immediately. Integration with your sales force will enable you to respond to problematic trends and tweak your campaign accordingly.

Turn challenging issues into customer wins

A frustrated customer communicating with your contact center is at a crossroads. The story can end badly, with a lost relationship and a bad review rant disseminated across social media for a cascading negative impact. Or, if guided by a highly-skilled agent, the customer can truly be heard, helped and happy. These customer wins can be useful if viewed through a marketing perspective, while also demonstrating the value of an integrated approach.

Consistency is about staying on message

What happens when your marketing team, sales team and customer service team aren’t reading from the same script? You end up with lots of confused customers and lost sales. From the C-Suite to the contact center, your success hinges on your organization’s ability to stay consistent with your brand, your message and your offerings.

To see how InfoCision can help your business, click here.

What Is a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy?

Mixpanel CEO Suhail Doshi was once quoted as saying “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will either be lucky or wrong.”

We can apply this quote to the customer service space where many companies are still using outdated and ineffective strategies that aren’t backed by supportive data. When contact center managers lack data-driven insight, they instead rely on guesswork. This can be very risky, especially if someone is in charge who  may act impulsively or lack experience.

The truth is that this world is becoming increasingly digitalized, and there is an abundance of data that can be easily accessed and utilized in the contact center. There is no excuse for contact center administrators to be ignoring all of this easily-available information. In fact, refusing to use data could be considered an affront to your customers. They deserve the best experiences possible, and this requires using data.

A data-driven marketing strategy can be characterized as one that:

Leverages customer insight: The vast majority of businesses today are collecting information about their customers  and target audiences but aren’t using it effectively. A data-driven customer service strategy is one where information flows into the enterprise, is processed in a customer relationship management (CRM) system and shared during interactions. Your customers are giving you all the clues you need to provide great service. It’s just a matter of digging through the information and organizing it to uncover trends.

Never stagnates: The business landscape is constantly changing, and customer demands shift by the day. So often, companies will  continue doing the same things year in and year out and then wonder why they are suddenly irrelevant in their space. When you embrace data-driven strategy, you are constantly looking out for the next opportunity at hand. It’s like getting in shape. Once you start, you have to keep doing it. There is no stagnating in business!

Is forward-thinking: A robust data-driven strategy requires looking as far as you can into the future, and making important decisions to prevent problems before they happen. For instance, you may start to notice that your customer engagement is declining on a particular social channel. Using data, you can get a better sense of why that is happening and determine whether it makes sense to  go in a different marketing direction. This can save time, and prevent you from wasting resources. It can also prevent your competitors from gaining a leg up.

Here’s the tough part: Nobody is going to force your business to use data. You have to consciously make the decision to shift your strategy. It’s going to take some work, but it could be the most important thing you do for your business.

The Top Financial Returns You Can Expect When Outsourcing Your Contact center

The phrase “digital transformation” continues to be one of the hottest buzzwords in business right now, as organizations across all vertical markets are actively looking for ways to improve efficiencies, slash operating costs and drive stronger profits.

Digital transformation is a phrase that you commonly hear in the data center, but it’s now being applied to all areas of the enterprise — especially in the contact center space. Traditional contact centers using legacy infrastructure, after all, are extremely expensive to own and operate and many businesses today — particularly small to medium-sized organizations — are struggling to keep them up and running at a high level.

As such, a growing number of businesses are now outsourcing operations to third party contact center solutions providers. And they are experiencing strong financial returns in the process.

Here are some of the top financial returns that your business will experience by outsourcing the contact center:

Less overhead: Imagine not having to pay for things like rent, utilities and building maintenance in your contact center. A contact center solutions provider will eliminate overhead in your department, giving you extra capital to pump back into important things like research & development.

Zero CAPEX or OPEX: Another major benefit to outsourcing your contact center is that you will avoid having to continuously purchase and upgrade your infrastructure — like your agents’ machines, headsets and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Your contact center solutions provider will guarantee that you always have access to the latest and most powerful contact center hardware and software on the market, for a fraction of what it would cost you otherwise.

Fewer salaries: Contact center agents can cost a lot of money, especially when hiring large teams of them. Again, this can be easily outsourced — eliminating the hassle of having to hire and pay agents, while still benefitting from a full, and high quality, workforce. What’s more, contact centers tend to have higher turnover, which can be very expensive.

Legal protection: This is one of the biggest hidden ROI of outsourcing your contact center. Businesses tend to run into trouble with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when performing their own customer outreach initiatives, as regulations are very complex. When businesses attempt to form their own customer outreach strategies, often they will make mistakes that can lead to costly class action lawsuits. Contact center solutions providers offer in-house legal teams, to offer guidance for customers and mitigate costly legal problems.

More satisfied customers: Ultimately, outsourcing your contact center will result in happier customers. Contact center solutions providers specialize in keeping customers satisfied and resolving their issues. So businesses can spend less money in the long run, while drastically improving their chances of generating positive service reviews, and fostering loyal customers.

Is Poor VoIP Ruining Your Customer Service?


Cost control, reduced maintenance and business mobility are among the main factors driving adoption of cloud-based contact center solutions today. In fact, the market is anticipated to triple in value from 2016 and 2021, according to a recent MarketsAndMarkets report.


But as organizations move to run customer support operations through VoIP infrastructure, there is potential to disrupt customer service if both installation and maintenance are not handled correctly. A failure to do so may result in latency, poor voice quality and a number of other challenges that can agitate your customers.


In the interest of making sure your transition from legacy network infrastructure is seamless, consider the following tips when it comes to installing and maintaining your VoIP network.


  • Assessing your bandwidth needs: In moving to a VoIP-based system, you’ll need to assess your bandwidth needs for several reasons. The amount of bandwidth taken up by your contact center may impede upon other departments within your organization if you don’t have enough, leading to poor call quality. You’ll also need to consider peak seasons when thinking about your bandwidth needs. You may have enough now, but what happens when inquiries rise by 20 percent during the holidays?
  • Establishing a failover preparedness plan: Using VoIP infrastructure, you’ll have a high degree of reliability with Ethernet. But if you do suffer an outage, what steps have you taken to ensure continuity? When installing and maintaining your new system, be sure to allocate enough resources to keep both your primary and secondary connections taken care of and your customers will never know if or when your system falters.
  • Integrating your CRM Platform: Even if you’re building your VoIP network from the ground up, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t elements within your existing infrastructure that won’t be irrelevant. Your current CRM, for instance, is a library of customer knowledge and is familiar to your personnel. The more you can integrate your CRM with your new system, the easier time you’ll have picking up where you left off with existing customers, and the easier time your reps will have adapting.


VoIP adoption is one of many ways that businesses are getting ahead with superior customer service today. If you want to learn more about how to get your contact center running at full efficiency to provide your customers with the highest level of support, click here.

Apple Announces Plan to Let Agents Respond to Store Reviews


For years, Apple’s app store has been a one-way street when it comes to customer service. Users can rate apps, or choose to leave detailed feedback—both of which can encourage or dissuade new users from downloading, taking away an element of control from app makers themselves.


But unlike competitors such as Google, developers have never been able to actually address that feedback and reach out to customers to help drive a more satisfactory experience.


Earlier this year, however, Apple announced a new plan in which it will let customer service agents respond to app store reviews. With platform updates released in March, developers can now offer support, ask follow-up questions, respond to inquiries, or simply say thank you for connecting.


With this announcement, businesses should be eager to take advantage of this new opportunity. This new customer service option enables representatives to offer users a more hands-on approach for users genuinely interested in improving their experience. And for users who simply wish to smear your product and leave terrible and unjustified feedback, you’ll finally be able to provide reasonable counterpoints to them in a professional and public setting.


Of course, responding to such shifts in the customer service industry demands that you have the flexibility to scale appropriately and expediently. To learn more about how you can ensure that your customer service representatives are always ready to offer support, click here.

What Happens After You Outsource Content?

Outsourcing a major part of your business like your contact center is a big undertaking. You will experience a big shift in the way your company operates, and possibly in your day to day schedule. So it’s important to have a roadmap planned to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes according to plan. Outsourcing projects, after all, can pick up steam very quickly.

At this point, let’s assume that your contact center outsourcing project is well underway. Your customer service team has long been notified about the change and re-allocated, and operations have been handed over to your new contact center solutions provider.

Here’s what you should do next:

Re-assess your service level agreement (SLA): If there is one thing we can’t stress enough, it’s making sure that your team has a solid understanding of the services it will receive from the contact center provider. As such, it’s important to take another look at your agreement even after it is finalized. You may notice some small mistakes in the contract that slipped through during negotiations, or important details regarding uptime and maintenance. Now is the time for team members to submit questions and resolve issues before the project continues. Some contracts, it should be noted, come with a temporary exit window.

Wipe your infrastructure: Your former contact center may have a lot of hardware sitting around, and some of it may contain sensitive customer data. Before you reassign or sell these machines to a third party reseller, make sure your IT department wipes all of the data from them. Otherwise, customer data could fall into the wrong hands — and you may not know it. Oftentimes, companies who rush to throw out their hardware suffer from data breaches months or years after getting rid of their equipment. Taking this simple step could save a great deal of trouble down the road.

Set up a meeting to discuss strategy: Contact your new customer service team, and introduce yourself. During this meeting, you’ll want to focus on forming a long-term donor outreach plan, customer service goals and basic program expectations. Let the team know that you want to be kept in the loop with reports and possibly even regular calls. Communication is one of the most important parts of outsourcing, and a strong contact center solutions provider will make it easy to keep you updated and informed.

Begin your new journey: Now it’s time to think about yourself for a moment. By outsourcing content, you will clear more room in your schedule to devote to higher-level customer related tasks. Are there any new projects that you have been looking to take on?

Do you have any questions about outsourcing? Click here.

Keep Pace With E-Commerce Trends in the New Year

Your online business must be responsive—not only to visitors but to trends which, if ignored, may trip you up eventually. With the quick pace of modern societal and technological advances, organizations need to keep a finger on the pulse of their industries and develop the agility to react to pressures at the drop of a dime.

The outlook for 2017 includes several e-commerce trends that are primed to turn into major industry drivers. Find them listed here, along with steps you can take to stay ahead of the curve:

Dynamic real-time shopping: The online shopping experience is becoming personalized to each customer. Improvements in collecting, organizing and analyzing data mean that customers will no longer be asked to respond to product recommendations that seem to come out of left field. Instead, recommendations will be based on their unique preferences, geographic location, demographic group, past purchases, market trends and brand interactions—automatically. E-commerce businesses should tap into the technology of leading e-commerce platforms to enable this capability.

Cyber November: Online retailers have started to offer customers discounts in advance of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday rushes—to offset unruly crowds in stores and to get a jump on holiday spending. In 2015, major retailers Target and Walmart announced in-store deals leading up to Black Friday, and mega online retailer Amazon took the cue, offering deals throughout the month of November. To gain a piece of the pie, focus on mobile spending, which is slated to account for 60 percent of online sales by year-end; offer stellar shopping experiences on smartphones and tablets.

Chatbots: These are fully automated “chat” agents that can act as a first point of contact for brands. Chatbots increase the number of platforms on which brands can offer transactions through guided, interactive browsing. In 2015, tech giants released the enabling application programming interfaces (APIs) that made it cost-effective for bot developers to create their own, using their own servers. Experts predict that the artificial intelligence that fuels chatbots will improve with time, making conversations more natural, with better response rates. Explore this technology now to reduce customer effort and lower support costs.

Checkout: Expect traditional wallets to be replaced by “mobile” payments, and set your site up to accept these new payment methods. Same-day delivery is also becoming a competitive differentiator, as is operating in smaller spaces that can serve as showrooms, fitting rooms, and pick-up/drop-off points.

In this era where power has shifted away from companies and toward digitally connected, technology-empowered customers, retailers need to fully embrace digital commerce to thrive. With a few clicks of a mouse, customers can easily switch companies to find a better online experience. In this environment, being customer-obsessed must be your competitive strategy.

Technology to the Rescue for Government Agency Engagement

How is your agency operating these days as far as engaging with the citizens you serve? Ideally, you would answer that citizen engagement has been a key priority, so you’ve modernized your contact center and improved the citizen experience overall.

The contact center provides a critical path between constituents and the state workers who deliver customer care. New communication methods employed in these centers enables government agencies a means to improve citizen engagement.

A 2016 infographic encompasses the results of a Governing Institute study, “Citizen Engagement Modernization in the State Contact Center,” showcasing how state agencies are positioned today, along with the technologies and resources that will take them to the next level in citizen engagement.

The research identified areas of need and gaps facing government institutions, as well as ways to better address these issues by modernizing contact center technologies. For example, of the 129 state and government officials surveyed, 72 percent agreed that digital communications are the fastest-growing form of citizen-to-government communication. Yet, a majority of their contact centers don’t support popular digital communication channels like interactive voice response (IVR)/self-service, mobile apps, or online messaging or chat.

The study included a look at how changing societal methods of communicating in the Digital Age have raised citizen service expectations. They expect the same well-oiled machinery of modern communication—instant access to information via mobile devices like smartphones—to be replicated by every service organization with which they connect. This expectation is especially well-formed among millennials (citizens born between 1980 and 2000), who were raised on digital technologies.

These generational and cultural shifts have resulted in the accelerated uptake of technological innovations across a wide swath of businesses and industries.

Study findings indicate that state governments recognize the changing environment and are prioritizing technological initiatives to meet the needs of citizens. These initiatives include comprehensive self-service strategies, engagement through digital channels and advanced knowledge management solutions.

Respondents say they’re improving the efficiencies of contact center staff by employing self-service offerings; however, only 20 percent use knowledge management solutions. And while 26 percent of respondents claim to be making access to internal policies and procedures easier for citizens, 22 percent acknowledge that data sharing capabilities are an unmet need.

If your contact center can focus on just a few avenues for improvement, these three areas are key: digital communication channels, self-service and streamlined processes. Make the moves now to put you in good stead with citizens and customers in the future.

Top Take-aways from InfoCision’s Recent Business Analytics Fair

Every phone call from a customer, every purchase or response to a direct mail campaign, every online inquiry—these are all perfect opportunities for your company to listen to customers and gather valuable insight. Leveraging this wealth of data means you can pinpoint customers’ needs, enhance personalization and deliver a more individualized marketing experience, improving quality of customer service.

Business analytics play an integral role in achieving these objectives. With business analytics, companies can utilize data to create more targeted marketing campaigns that drive response and increase ROI. In fact, a business analytics boom is on its way—global business analytics services spending is forecasted to reach $89.6 billion by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 14.7 percent, according to IDC. All in all, the market is expected to hit $51.6 billion this year.

Recently, InfoCision showcased what business analytics can do to drive our very own service initiatives. In late September at the University of Akron, we hosted a Business Analytics Fair for leaders and support department employees from all divisions and areas of the company, educating employees on the ways they can harness data to improve and innovate. Numerous analytics employees set up interactive presentations that showed how call center analytics, data analytics, marketing analytics and more are already positively impacting our business at InfoCision.

Below are a few key take-aways our employees walked away with that can help your teams, too:

  • Focus on Best Time to Reach Customers: We can improve KPIs by recommending, facilitating and implementing best practices in call centers, leading to more profitable business for clients. It’s paramount to focus on the best time to reach people, as well as the times to avoid calling.
  • Highlight Useful Data to Enhance Campaigns: By evolving how we interact with data—moving away from generating charts of endless numbers toward providing visual data—we can empower employees with actionable insight to enhance a marketing campaign.
  • Facilitate Seamless Collaboration: Through coordination between account staff, IT and other business analytics teams, we can drive innovation and analytical support, helping staff “gain those inches on programs.” By providing immediate and actionable insight, we facilitate quick collaboration on cross departmental projects.

Hopefully our team can inspire yours when it comes to establishing business analytics best practices. So, will your enterprise invest in business analytics? Tell us your plan in the comments section below!

How to leverage your Big Data to generate Big Results

How do you leverage Big Data?

That’s really the question, isn’t it?  The #BigData buzz word is floating around on Linked In, Twitter and in articles that marketing professionals see every day.  And with good reason.  Having a wealth of data allows us to personalize our marketing offers, creating a more effective pitch while also providing the customer with a better and more engaging experience.

That sounds great in theory… but how do you really do that?

It starts with business intelligence

But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Big data is a wonderful means to an end, but before we can begin to map out a strategy, we need to first determine a calling campaign’s key performance indicators (KPI’s). Your client will have a set of KPI’s they want you to meet like service levels, call volume, conversion rates, etc.  As their call center partner, you’ll have additional KPIs to consider.  Once the goal metrics are identified, the next step is finding out where the data resides that will help you manage the objectives.  Then you can integrate that information into your strategy.

Highly skilled IT professionals and analytical marketers working together as a business intelligence team can utilize all available data to build statistical models that show behavior and patterns, and determine which factors drive a particular type of customer. They can set up algorithms to compute this information, which is used to tailor information in call center scripts, emails, targeted web ads and direct mail pieces. All helping to increase productivity, customer satisfaction, conversions and ultimately ROI.

And it’s more than just messaging. In the call center we can use previous call history to determine the best time to contact customers, increasing our connect rates.  We can determine the channel(s) of communication individual consumers are most likely to respond to favorably.  We can evaluate buying and purchasing patterns that give us insight into what offers consumers may be more interested in so we can personalize their offer – even upselling and cross-selling further enhancing conversion rates.  We can also identify and remove customers with the highest propensity to churn,  further minimizing marketing costs. For example, on one customer retention campaign, we utilized much of what I just outlined above. Using multiple strategies we were able to drive down the client’s cost per customer saved from $127 to a minimal $14.65, while at the same time retaining an additional 138,400 customers.

Leveraging real-time Big Data in the call center

This is where it gets fun. Using intelligence and technology to determine service level differentiations to boost conversion rates, improve customer service, customize call center scripts and sales scripts — on the fly, will ultimately increase customer value and drive long-term growth.  Real time analytics can also be a cost saver by driving target routing strategies (matching the appropriate agent with the sales lead), intelligent queue (prioritizing higher converting leads for quicker answer times), etc.

In the call center, as information is collected during a call, the targeted, personal message that best fits the customer may need to change on the fly.  But with the right technology, the script can be adapted as the call is going on.

At InfoCision, we’ve developed a proprietary solution called Inscription that delivers a customized script seamlessly in real-time as well as comprehensive customer profiles and screen pops. This technology, which has been in use since 2004, automatically tailors the script as the call is coming in, and can allow for real-time changes based on information gathered during the call.  Inscription is constantly updated based on customer call results so it provides the most recent data possible. This allows our Communicators to focus on building relationships with customers utilizing the most effective personalized offer.  It’s all about relationship management and looking beyond single transaction customer contacts toward long term ROI realization.

For more information on inscription, check out the case study I mentioned.

If you have thoughts on this post or other ways to leverage Big Data, please comment below.