Customer Service: The Key to Direct Marketing and Telemarketing Success

Recently, InfoCision’s Vice President of New Business Development, Yvonne Anderson was featured in an online exclusive article in Electronic Retailer Magazine all about customer service.  Yvonne brought up some great points in the article that I feel are definitely worth sharing:

Excellent Customer Service Starts with the People

Can you see them smiling through the phone? You should! Whether they are working directly for the company, or for a call center partner, agents need to be prepared to create a great customer experience for everyone who calls.

1. Put the right people on the front lines

Choose people who are passionate about what they do and will put in that extra effort.  In many cases, this is the first interaction your customers have with you or a client.

2. Train, train, and train some more

The better they understand the culture and philosophy you’re trying to convey, the better situations with unhappy customers will be handled. Softer skills like dispute resolution and dealing with difficult people are also valuable.

3. Monitor, provide instant feedback and share best practices.

If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong how can you improve, right? Providing feedback and tips on what has worked in the past will go a long way.

Evaluation is Key in Direct Marketing

When measuring customer satisfaction, there are some questions a company must ask:

  • Did the customer’s call get answered?
  • Did the customer feel his or her call was dealt with appropriately?
  • Were concerns or issues handled quickly and efficiently?

These questions may seem obvious, but asking them regularly and taking action is vital to continued success.

Developing Customer Care is a Process

As customer satisfaction increases more customers remain loyal and will continue to purchase items from the company, which will begin to positively impact the company’s bottom line. Your customers will tell their friends how awesome you are, and they will tell their friends and so on.

Everything is interconnected and the above concepts go hand-in-hand. Is it always easy? No, but customer service can make or break your company. Taking the time to hire the right people, evaluate along the way and think about the big picture is well worth it.

InfoCision Celebrates 10 years in Mansfield

Corporate culture unique in telemarketing industry

Yesterday we had the honor of celebrating the 10 year anniversary of our Mansfield location. Local leaders, including the Honorable Mayor, Timothy Theaker; President of the Mansfield-Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Nestor and even the newly crowned Miss Ohio, Elissa McCracken joined us as we celebrated this milestone and congratulated the employees who made it all possible.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Mansfield for 10 years, but they have been 10 years of great growth and success. I really want to take the time to thank our employees, who have been the catalyst for this success, and the community which has always been so gracious to us. Special recognition was given to 12 employees who have been at our Mansfield location since we first opened it! Their tenure, hard work and dedication is a great example of the corporate culture we strive for, where everyone is able to create a career for themselves and a come to work in an environment that provides that all important work/life balance. Not many call center companies can say they have had Communicators taking calls for 10 years. Our Mansfield location has always produced outstanding work for our clients and we hope that will continue for another 10 years.

Below you can view a short video from the event. Feel free to check it out and see how we honored our dedicated and tenured team members. Once again I would like to thank everyone that came out and our employees for making an event like this possible!

 

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.

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.

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.