Do Your Agents Speak Your Brand Language?

A brand is a complex thing—a blend of consumer expectations, relationships and product or service quality that forms a fundamental building block for your business. Despite the fact that it’s an intangible asset, however, brands aren’t completely nebulous; those perceived as a success are worth millions—even billions—of dollars on a company’s financial statement.

Most businesses that outsource areas of their operations are more mindful about delivering on brand promises when it comes to in-house processes. Other businesses are hesitant to outsource at all because it could mean losing control of their brand.

But it is possible for a third-party contact center to deliver the same trusted brand experience that your in-house team can. Here are some tips for making sure that every customer interaction that happens outside your walls measures up to your brand promises:

  • Look for a contact center with values similar to your own. If your company emphasizes social responsibility, look for a contact center that does the same; if your focus is reliability, make sure your vendor stresses that as well. The closer your entities are in mindset, the easier it will be for outside staff to understand your point of view.
  • Provide company-specific agent training. Develop in-depth training sessions for external vendors that convey your organization’s specific corporate values and service requirements, or have them participate in your existing new employee training program. Customer service providers need to know your company’s mission, values, customer and culture if you hope to see them succeed as your brand ambassador.
  • Make an emotional connection. Once you’ve chosen a vendor, visit the facility in person to help make agents feel like they work for you personally. Also, strive to generate an emotional connection between agents and your brand. They’ll be inspired to advocate for a brand they believe in, turning what could be just a job into a mission.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Ways to Make Morale a Priority

It’s hard to pin down a definition of high or low morale in the workplace, but you know it when you see it. A team with high morale is confident they can do the job, disciplined about performing it, and motivated to tackle whatever comes their way. On the other hand, low morale looks just the opposite—your agents may be working, but there’s no sense of enthusiasm or positivity.

It’s no secret that morale has a major impact on the workplace, particularly in the customer care arena. In a setting with low morale, Communicators aren’t likely to go the extra mile in their service efforts or present a pleasant demeanor during customer interactions. Customers can sense when the person on the other end of the line is unhappy, a feeling that will permeate the entire exchange. So even if the idea of raising morale seems like a nebulous concept, its benefits are clearly measurable in the strength of your bottom line.

If you’re noticing an increase in turnover, frequent employee absences, or an undercurrent of conflicts or complaints, try some of these morale-boosting strategies:

  • Reconnect with your Communicators. Practice “management by walking around,” so you can connect with employees spontaneously. Unplanned conversations could yield impromptu suggestions, ideas, and the sharing of thoughts in the moment. Make sure you’re listening.
  • Say “thank you” more often. Reward Communicators frequently for a job well done, which could mean anything from saying “great job” or “thanks” to things like giving gift certificates or awarding flextime hours.
  • Make staff development a priority. Hold regular one-on-one meetings to understand individual needs and skills, and provide training and development opportunities as often as possible. Create formal ways for staff members to learn from one another.
  • Show Communicators the results of their hard work. Share positive feedback with all agents, and consider sharing any good news related to the clients you work for. After all, their success wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of your Communicators.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

InfoCision Named a Notable Member of the OHBLN

 

At InfoCision, our core business revolves around connecting with people—that is, helping businesses to forge meaningful connections with their customers. Long ago we realized we can do our job better by making similar connections in our community, a wonderful source of valuable and diverse employees. We—and our clients—have been reaping the benefits ever since.

InfoCision is proud to be among the first 100 companies to join the Ohio Business Leadership Network, an organization that leads by example in the employment of individuals with disabilities. More than 800,000 strong, this group of working-age Ohioans with disabilities represents a talented and relatively untapped workforce in our state.

OHBLN members, including Procter & Gamble, Aramark, Miami University, and Pitney Bowes, to name just a few, know that talented and dedicated people of all backgrounds, including those with communications challenges and medical disabilities, are vital to the success of any business. Qualified candidates with abilities and talents relevant to the job are always welcome, and very often, applicants with disabilities bring an extraordinary work ethic, positive outlook and original way of thinking to the table. Truly, a diverse workforce makes us stronger and better able to serve our customers.

InfoCision has also been named a notable OHBLN business member for its dedication to recruiting, training, and retaining individuals with disabilities. We believe that our employees are the link to developing lasting relationships between our clients and their donors or customers, so we look for talented Communicators first and foremost, and offer them opportunities to grow.

If you haven’t already explored diversity initiatives in your own community, I encourage you to do so. An inclusive culture, we think, is key to building meaningful relationships, and key to business success.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

How to Avoid ‘Analysis Paralysis’ in the Contact Center

In customer care centers, data is everywhere. Almost every contact center has tools in place to capture it, knowing that data holds the key to optimizing operations.

Likewise, most contact center managers are adept at turning this data into information through reporting. Reporting is particularly useful for monitoring purposes; when unexpected data presents itself, it highlights areas that may need attention. Reporting can lead to improvements in business performance, but if all you’re doing is reporting, you’re probably not taking full advantage of your data. It’s that higher-level activity—analysis—that delivers the biggest punch.

When done right, data analysis gives you a window into why things are happening the way they are, and even helps you understand what to do about it. Analysis is complex in nature, though, which is why it presents a challenge. It certainly is more time-consuming than reporting, but deriving true insights from huge amounts of data leads many managers to suffer from what is known as analysis paralysis.

To avoid becoming crippled by data analytics, you need a clear strategy for capturing, managing, and analyzing data. Choose your business focus, ask relevant questions, and utilize a strategy that will make your data more impactful to your business. Two activities that can lead to greater value insights are:

  • Market segmentation—the data you gather can help you understand customers on a more personal level. Besides basic demographic information, gather data on their routines and habits, shopping behavior, attitudes and interests. With your business objective in mind, you can craft specific, relevant messages to certain groups of customers, making the messages more likely to get noticed.
  • Predictive analytics—contact centers turn up plenty of data over the course of an individual’s customer journey, including how many times they made contact, what time of day, and their preferred mode of communication. They also voiced concerns, opinions, and complaints every time. Careful analysis allows you to identify at-risk customers, for example, and be proactive in your attempts to retain them.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

 

 

Is It Possible For Communicators to Be Too Empathetic?

Not everyone is cut out to be a contact center agent. These individuals must have a very specific set of unique skills to successful perform their jobs. After all, it takes a certain type of person to deal with a range of customers each and every day.

Empathy is a critical skill that all successful Communicators must have. Typically, when a customer dials into a customer service center he or she has some type of problem or frustration that they need solved. When a customer raises an issue, it’s important that Communicators show sufficient understanding or sympathy for his or her problem.

But is there such thing as being too empathetic?

A recent Fortune article, titled “Dear Customer Service Centers, Please Stop It With the Scripted Empathy,” brings to light an interesting point about the idea of exuding empathy to consumers in the customer care industry. The author of the article suggests that, perhaps, in certain situations exuding too much compassion can actually be off-putting for the customer on the other end of the line.

The author also touches on the fact that scripted empathy can be damaging to a company. While scripts are meant to help guide Communicators, many companies rely too heavily on them. Rather than coming off as a compassionate human, Communicators end up sounding like a carefully programmed robot that has no emotions.

The fact of the matter is, empathy can’t be scripted and the level of compassion Communicators display should depend on the customer complaint and type of interaction. Communicators should be trained to quickly identify a customer’s personality type—for example, thinker, feeler, director—and choose the appropriate path to solution.

Let’s say, for example, that a customer calls in about a small issue with his bill. The individual calling in is in a rush and isn’t much of a talker. Chances are this person wants the situation to be quickly rectified so he can go on his way. Rather than go into a 90-second speech thanking him for his loyalty and apologizing for the incident, it’s best to make a short (but sincere) apology and assure him that the problem will be solved quickly.

Now in this situation it was okay for the agent to simply cut to the chase, but in other instances Communicators might have to take a more delicate approach. Let’s say, for example, that a customer calls in and immediately goes into a rant about an issue with her service. In this situation, it’s important for the agent to listen intently and sympathize with the customer, reassuring her that you understand the problem and that you will do your best to help solve it.

There’s no magic wand that will give your Communicators the know-how to successfully read a situation and act appropriately. It takes extensive training and practice to instill this type of skill in your employees. Therefore, make sure that you’re giving them the necessary training and time to build their confidence.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Fundraising in the Digital Era Part 2: Leveraging Integrated Marketing

Not too many years ago, Nonprofit teams had to knock on neighborhood doors to raise awareness and support for their organization. Needless to say, it was a difficult job that quickly caused some of those involved to burn out.

With the telephone and other digital channels, however, there are many more opportunities in which Nonprofits can connect with existing and potential donors.  For example, Nonprofits may leverage all sorts of emerging communities through social media.

In continuation of our three part series, below we discuss how Nonprofits can leverage integrated marketing strategies to engage donors and turn them into long lasting contributors.

Leveraging Integrated Marketing: Effective Strategies that Build Relationships

A growing majority of today’s donors spend time online. Therefore, in order to grab their attention and effectively communicate with them you need to have a strong digital presence. Below are some strategies to consider implementing with your next fundraising campaign.

  1. Pair demographic data with multichannel marketing: While the majority of donors still prefer the telephone for direct communication, younger donors tend to choose contact via digital channels, such as email and social media. To ensure that you are reaching donors through the channels they prefer, marry demographic data with multi-channel marketing solutions.
  2. Give it a personal touch: Business Intelligence and Analytics tools can help increase your fundraising success through capturing relevant insights from donor data—like preference, response rates, etc. In addition, demographic scripting can help personalize the messaging that encompasses the urgency and relevance of a Nonprofit’s value proposition.

Be sure to join me for Part 3 of this series which will discuss the nuts and bolts of a successful fundraising campaign in relation to compliance rules and regulations.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Make March Your Lucky Month By Increasing Your ROI

It’s March, which means St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. This month, channel the luck of the Irish and increase your ROI by improving best practices within your contact center.

Below are a few tips and tricks that you can implement over the next month to increase your bottom line and create long-lasting “luck.” Let’s take a look:

  • Utilize advanced technology: Are you a little behind the times and haven’t yet invested in sophisticated contact center technology? This month, start researching potential technology solutions that can help streamline workflows as well as provide powerful data insights about your customers. For example, skills-based routing can match your best Communicator with inbound and outbound calls based on program-specific training they receive.
  • Reevaluate your Communicators: Chances are you have a group of Communicators who might be struggling with certain tasks or skills. For example, some might be having a hard time handling difficult customers. Take some time this month to check in with those particular individuals to see how they are doing. Offer them some more professional development opportunities to get them back on track.
  • Experiment with new strategies: Is March a particularly slow month for your contact center? If that’s the case, then now is the perfect time to experiment with some new strategies that you have wanted to try out. Perhaps you want to try a new incentive plan, for example. Or maybe you want to test a new approach to employee training.

While implementing these tips and tricks won’t necessarily result in instant ROI, they will help improve your bottom line over time. So before the month of March is over, try doing at least one of these things—you never know how much luck it will bring you!

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

 

Communicating With Potential Donors Is Nerve-Wracking: Three Ways to Ease the Stress

Let’s face it; communicating with potential donors can be an intimidating thing for even the most seasoned Communicators. After all, in fundraising, the objective is to obtain as many long-lasting donors as possible to continuously contribute to the nonprofit your represent. As such, experiencing rejection can be especially painful.

Acquiring donors, however, doesn’t have to be so intimidating, as there are ways in which one can ease the stress and actually be quite successful. At InfoCision, for example, many Communicators have cultivated long-lasting and trust-based relationships with donors.

Achieving successful and on-going communication starts with the first interaction. In other words, it’s all about how you approach someone. All too often, fundraisers will reach out to a donor and simply read off of his or her script.

In doing so, however, the Communicator tends to come off as cold, impersonal, and rushed. And let’s face it, no donor wants to give money to an organization that doesn’t take the time to get know them.

Rather than take the all-too-common impersonal approach, use the data you have in your system to create a more personalized first interaction. For example, data you already have will give you insight into how donors like to be contacted and when, how they engaged previously, and what is likely going to trigger their interest.

When agents are armed with donor information, they will immediately feel at ease because they are more prepared. What’s more, creating a more personalized experience for donors will not only put them at ease as well, but it will also cause them be more open to what you have to say.

Your Communicators shouldn’t be intimidated by communicating with potential donors.  Ease their reservations by giving them access to customer data that will enable them to have more personalized and successful interactions.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

 

Customer Care: The Next Big Marketing Channel

As a business owner, you already know that customer care is critical to integrated marketing. After all, Communicators must tactfully reply to social media customer care quandaries. What’s more, great customer care boosts the reputations of companies, thereby, heightening the credibility and visibility of marketing campaigns.

But recently, customer care has been recognized as a full-fledged marketing channel. Thanks to the emergence of the various different customer care channels—such as email, live chat, social media, etc.—the customer care department is now a hub for marketing opportunity.

Below are various ways in which customer care is becoming the next big marketing channel:

  • Upsell/Cross sell: Let’s say a consumer inquires on social media or live chat about a particular product or feature. The Communicator servicing the ticket has the power to either upsell or cross sell the customer on additional products and/or features that would fit his or her particular needs.
  • Word of mouth: When a customer has an outstanding customer experience with a Communicator, he or she is likely to spread the word to his or her friends, family and peers. Essentially, this individual is spreading brand awareness about the company without ever coming across any marketing messages.
  • Brand management: Your brand’s reputation is paramount to its success and revenue. The customer care department is often the first point of contact for many customers. Therefore, Communicators play a major role in your brand management and reputation.

The lines between marketing and customer care will continue to blur as more digital channels are introduced. Above are just some of the examples of ways in which customer care can assert itself as a viable marketing channel to drive sales and improve a company’s bottom line.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.

Here’s How You Can Really Calculate Customer Care ROI

As a customer care leader, you know how important it is to calculate ROI, as it proves that your department is contributing to the businesses’ bottom line. You also know, however, that calculating the value of contact center services ROI can be tricky.

Luckily, there are a few metrics that can help you get the best possible estimate of what your company’s customer care efforts are worth. In fact, a recent article from Customer Think lays it out quite simply by highlighting three areas: revenue, cost and marketing.

Below are some important metrics you should consider when calculating customer care ROI:

  • Repeat business: A great way to calculate revenue is taking a look at your repeat business. If the number of repeat customers is low it could signal that bad times are ahead. That’s because it’s more costly to gain a new customer than it is to keep an old one. What’s more, repeat customers are said to spend more with a company overtime.
  • Employee Attrition: Do you have a high employee turnover? Believe it or not, a revolving door of employees can get expensive. Between the onboarding process and unemployment, the costs can quickly add up. Measuring employee attrition is a great way to see whether or not you can reduce costs.
  • Net Promoter Score: Would your client recommend you to someone else? This is a major question that could give you insight into how your marketing and customer service efforts are faring. Essentially, your Net Promoter Score gives you a clear measure of your performance through your customers’ eyes.

Calculating customer care ROI can be difficult. Nonetheless, it’s an important responsibility that customer care departments must handle if they want to prove that their efforts are making a difference within the company.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.