Business growth

Triple your customer list and drive more repeat business every month at no cost

How to really know your Customer’s Experience

Know your customers

I had an issue with one of my home service providers and I called their Customer Service line for help. This is a National company with a central call center. I waited 49 minutes on hold before hanging up. No messaging on hold. Just music. No options for a callback, leave a message, or any other option that might have made me feel less frustrated.

I called the corporate office number that I found on Google, since it was not listed on the company Web site (why are they hiding?) and followed the IVR instruction to press “0” for the Operator to get some direction. Each time I pressed “0” the system hung up on me. I tried 3 times. As a consultant who works to fix broken Customer Service systems and processes like this, I was as intrigued as I was frustrated.

Need help? Chat NOW

Chat is offered on the Web site when logging into your account so I gave that a try. It took almost 2 minutes for the Chat session to boot up and actually have a representative say “hello.” This was after I completed a 5 question Chat Start Box. Once online, I quickly asked my question and, you might have guessed, I was told to call Customer Service. Even after explaining the long hold, my simple need for help, the only option offered by the Chat agent was to call CS. Goodbye CSAT and NPS!

Next stop was going into Private Detective mode and looking up corporate executives online, including the President of the Division, then calling back the corporate number, getting to the corporate phone directory and using names to connect to their voice mail and leaving a messages for two of them. I received a call back by a Regional Director a little over an hour after leaving a message for the President.

I’m sure most of you reading this have gone through similar experiences. It is simply unacceptable and a sure indicator of management issues, lack of planning, improper use of technology, and a host of other issues that come from a weak effort to manage customers, the lifeblood of every company.

Unfortunately, these types of issues are very common no matter how successful or large a company may be.  Customer retention is art and science. For such flagrant breakdowns to be happening in 2019 with all we know about how to serve customers, all the technology tools we have at our disposal, and all the talk of Customer Experience, is surprising to say the least.

How can company leaders can find issues like these before customers have to suffer through them? Use the company’s Customer Contact channels every day.

Call your Customer Service line and use your Chat/Text/Email and even snail mail functions regularly. Look at everything from a Customer’s point of view. Watch for speed of response; length of hold-time; is the IVR helpful? How knowledgeable are the representatives who answer; how hard it is to use each function? Is your Web site helpful or complicated? Can customers easily reach you if they aren’t ultimately satisfied?  So many Sr. Leaders operate as if the last thing they want to do is hear from an unhappy customer. When that should be first on your list every day.

Well, you say, “Mike, I pay my Management team well to do all of this work. What’s the point of having a staff if I have to do it?” I understand your point, but I would ask you how much better would your management team do if they knew you might be calling, texting, chatting and contacting their departments each day?

Unless you are the only company in the world that provides your product or service and you don’t have to worry about losing paying customers, you must get involved on a micro-level. And, you should be preaching and advocating for this level of involvement and ownership to your entire staff. Trust your management team, but verify firsthand that your Customer Service is absolutely the best it can be every day.

At your service,

Mike

 

 

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Huddle the Team for better performance

Low angle view looking up at a team huddle

I urge every business which operates with inside sales and service teams, especially in Contact Center settings, to make sure that whoever is leading those teams daily, supervisors, managers, or team leads, is having a daily Team Huddle at the start of each shift.

Companies that support, encourage and hold Team Huddles correctly, end up with better team performance over time. But, invariably, team huddles can turn into mundane, “Leadership said we have to do this every day,” uninspired wastes of precious time, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish with a start of shift Team Huddle.

To those who run daily team huddles, I have this advice:

Ask yourself the important question, “Who is talking more at my Team Huddle? ME or my Team members?

Your Team members should be doing most of the talking and most people should be encouraged to participate. Any participation is good. Short and to the point works well.

Huddles are not a great time for a speech, but, if you are going to give a speech, make it a motivational talk. The idea of a daily, start of shift huddle is to motivate, encourage and energize. This is not the format for long discussions about any topic. Save housekeeping and too much detail about numbers for longer Team meetings.

You can talk about KPI goals for the day but getting into a detailed discussion of KPIs is not what Huddles are for.

What is the best use of the daily huddle? The huddle is your pre-game opportunity to get people fired up for the day’s performance in about 5 minutes! A chance to rally your team to work individually and as one cohesive unit to meet today’s team objectives.

Talk about things like getting to the top of the department’s Team Leader Board; Point out your top performers and challenge others to match or beat them today; Ask your top performers to share some brief success tips and challenge them to do better.

Get the team talking about what they are going to accomplish today individually and as a group!

If today falls on the last week of the month or quarter, will the team set records or miss goals?

Where will your team end up as a business within the business? The numbers are a result of preparation and execution. If your team is trained and prepared properly to do the job, then you should focus on inspiring their execution of the work they’ve been trained to do.  Rather than focusing on the numbers so much, focus on motivation, energy and effort.

If folks don’t leave your huddle ready to jump on the phone or into the project and make a difference, it’s not been worth the effort.  If their first thought is, “glad that is over, time to get a coffee,” your huddle has failed.

Use this opportunity to engage your team member’s competitive and winning spirit!

Make a difference today!!

Targeting robocalls

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone

Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

In rare, bipartisan agreement in Washington, DC, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would toughen penalties for telephone scammers, mandate call authentication technology and address delays in criminal prosecution of robocallers.

read more in the Atlanta Business Chronicle

In spite of numerous and aggressive efforts to block and punish abusive robocallers, the FTC reports that consumers are getting more and more unsolicited robocalls.

Why? Technology is the answer. Companies are using autodialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute for an incredibly low cost. The companies that use this technology don’t bother to screen for numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry. If a company doesn’t care about obeying the law, you can be sure they’re trying to scam you.

What should you do if you get a robocall?

  • Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.
  • Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, and whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.
  • Report your experience to the FTC online at or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

A new window into the very soul of your Customers and Business

man with steel artificial arm sitting in front of white table

I’ve previously written about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to improve the quality and accuracy of customer interactions within companies of all sizes. Read more here.

As AI and machine learning gain more widespread understanding, development advances, and use, through a range of business applications, I’m particularly intrigued and interested in the use of Speech and Text analytics applications to deliver previously unknown insights into the daily interactions between customers and sales and service representatives. This new technology will provide companies that care a much more granular, 3-D view into the behaviors of their customers, their workers, and their business model.

We’ve enjoyed call audio recording for a long time but, listening to the calls has been limited by the cost of hiring enough people to listen to enough calls to provide meaningful data. So, only a portion of calls were ever reviewed and scored by human Quality Analysts. In my experience, this feedback has always been very useful and valuable in correcting performance and gaining new insights into both our customers and agents. We just couldn’t get enough of it fast enough. For the most part, we were reviewing historical data. AI offers real time data and alerts to aid in managing performance while it is happening rather than trying to go back and fix things that happened already.

With AI based applications, used properly, businesses can analyze EVERY call and text-based interaction from channels like Chat, email and Social media. Call audio is transcribed and analyzed along with other text-based interactions and the results area a treasure trove of manageable data and information being delivered in actionable formats in real time and near real time.

This will transform the way we manage businesses because we will have first-hand knowledge of what customers and representatives are really saying, and, in what context they are saying these things.

Even after direct interactions with your company channels, AI can track customer actions which will give business leaders unprecedented intelligence. For example, if a customer ends a call with your representative and immediately takes to Twitter and  mentions your company, AI tools will allow leaders to be alerted on their smartphone, so they can act more quickly to counteract negative comments or promote positive comments.

Over the years, so many business leaders have expressed their desire to me to know more about their company’s overall performance. Reading daily tallies of call reason and result codes never really delivered a full view. But, AI combined with Speech analytics and Machine Learning will now give business leaders real “eyes and ears” in virtually every place your customer lives.

Workers who interact with customers will have more information about the customer at their fingertips, but will also be under increasing scrutiny because every contact will be recorded, transcribed, reviewed and reported upon.

How much of these new data insights will  be put to good use by businesses will remain to be seen. We have the tools to gather these data and smart business leaders should be researching and reviewing options with vigor.  Using this new technology successfully is another topic.

Want to know more about the options for Speech and Text Analytics? Contact me to schedule a call. You will be amazed at what you can learn.

Mike

MikeaboutMoney.com Daily

More to Sell a House

We know it costs more to buy a house these days, but it also costs more to sell one. An analysis by Zillow.com and Thumbtack.com puts the average cost at just over 18 thousand dollars (depending on the selling price). Those costs including paying a selling agent, filing fees, and assorted repairs and improvements.

Better Mondays = Better Performance!

When I start working with Contact Center owners, I always tell them I’ll be at the site 

better call center performance

bright and early on Monday morning. I usually get responses like, “…well, Monday’s aren’t the best day to visit because everyone is just getting back from the weekend and things are a little slow. ”Why don’t you start on Tuesday?”

Yikes! no wonder they are calling me for help to boost their call center’s performance. Top Call Center Operators that I’ve worked with make it a point to hit the ground running on Monday mornings. There is not warm up or ramp up time in the Customer Experience industry where your company and brand (or your client’s company and brand if you are a BPO), are as good as your last call.

As a Call Center leader, do you allow your team to leisurely wander into the office, grab some coffee, talk about the games this past weekend, and, eventually get around to thinking about planning for their day? Monday or any other day of the week?

A word to front line leadership. If you want to be a successful Call Center Leader, grow in your career, break records and develop a loyal and high performing team while and separating yourself from the pack, one simple change can propel you way ahead. Be ready to go on Monday Morning. You should be rehearsing the plan you’ve created on Sunday night in your mind as you drive into the office. In fact, some top operators are holding conference calls with their team on the way in.

If you are a front line Supervisor, Manager or Director, if you get to work wondering what you are going to do on Monday morning, you’ve missed it completely. And, holding a staff meeting on Monday morning without an agenda and no goals does not count. Staff meetings on Mondays often are used to plan the week. By Noon the plan is getting rolled out to the floor. Too late to have a positive impact on Monday’s performance, and possibly, the week’s performance.

If you need a planning meeting, have it on Friday afternoon (another very valuable time period that is often wasted – more on that in a future post). Plan for next week so everyone comes in Monday morning with a game plan and ready to go. 

Some of you may be thinking, “Wait Mike, I don’t get paid for Sunday night work.” I say, “oh yes you do! You get paid to bring value to the company and to your team. And that means you plan your work in advance so you have a plan and a direction the minute you are in the building.”

If you want to be paid only for the time you spend clocked in, I’m sure your company has some agent seats they need to fill with good people like you. However, once you accepted a leadership position, you chose a different path. You have a direct stake in the success of the company. You are now a role model. You set the tone, the pace and the energy level for your responsible area. Whether it’s a team of 12 agents or a department of 100, you are in control of the performance and success levels which are directly impacted by the preparation you bring to the job each day.

Those around you, direct reports, Sr. Leaders and Colleagues will see the energy and seriousness you bring to the job. This is not a make it up as you go industry and when others see your approach they will know what you expect and will follow your lead. If not, you’ll have a place to start as a mentor and leader.

Let’s all plan to bring our A-game to Monday Mornings and watch the performance needle move.

100k and a powerful ad channel can change the world

Accordi1464221_6i5oC4RTzMskcVW2HmfX3nfZ5KLMNO.smallng to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Russian agents spent $100,000 to buy ads on Facebook which likely played a major part in changing the future of the United States and of the World.

While I do not agree in any way with allowing foreign powers to play a hand in manipulating our elections, as a business leader, I am very interested in the results that were achieved with this campaign. One hundred thousand dollars is a relatively small ad spend considering the goal of the campaign was to sway a large number of American voters in multiple states. But, the results give insight into the power of digital advertising and the exponential effect of using social media to effect change in consumer behavior.

Most businesses have only dipped a toe into social media as a marketing channel. While not easy to do well, those businesses who continue to improve their understanding and use of  digital marketing and advertising are seeing positive results and are growing their businesses.

Unlike traditional media, digital is still a regularly changing medium and what works today may not work next month. Digital media requires an investment of more than ad dollars. It takes a commitment to learning and testing to find success. But it is definitely worth the effort.

When your business is ready to change the world with digital marketing and advertising, call MICHAEL CCS.

 

 

 

 

Full Service Contact Center Services available from MICHAEL CCS

MICHAEL Customer Contact Service has 50 seats available staffed with well trained, customer service, sales followup and customer retention agents. We’ve located these FTE’s in an excellent Midwest location with fully redundant service in a state of the art facility offering complete Omni-channel services.

Should you need to implement a program on a short timetable and need fast turnaround with high quality agents, call me and let’s discuss your project.

We survived Hurricane Irma and are open for business.

 

 

The secret business profit center most businesses are still not leveraging

September 2017/ in Smart Business Trends / by Michael Schiano

woman-receiving-sms-text-marketingSMS Text marketing is a tool used to spread your marketing message and special offers to   your customers. To keep up with the fast-paced competition for customers, you need a tool that is rapid, convenient, and allows for interactive communications between you and your audience.

The most popular form of business SMS Text marketing relies on using a “short-code.” A short- code is a 5-digit number specific to your business, like a phone number. You market a special offer with the short code asking people to text, for example, FOOD to 57711 to get access to a special offer such as 50% off their next meal. The customer texts the word FOOD to the number and this results in an automated response to the person’s cell phone asking them to Opt-In to receive text messages from your business by responding YES. This is called double opt-in and it meets the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other federal regulations. The system receives the YES and delivers the offer to the customer. All done in a matter of seconds.

The key here is that you have now legally captured a cell phone number and received approval from the cell phone owner to send messages to them on an ongoing basis. This is very powerful and not all business owners fully grasp the concept. The average cost for sending an SMS Text to 1,000 customers should be about $20. If your average net ticket is $20, then you need only 1 customer to visit your store out of the 1,000 you’ve texted to cover cost. All other customers who visit mean a profit to you. This creates a Profit Center out of your customer cell phones.

Current data show text messages have a 99% open rate, and 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received.   Email only has a 20% open rate.

Pew Research reports that Texting is the most widely-used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. For business owners who rely on customer traffic, SMS Text marketing is going to be more important than ever for growing customer lists and driving more repeat business each month.

What can SMS Text marketing can do for your business?

Save you money! When you build your Customer list, they’ve given you permission to text them offers. Imagine being able to send a message directly to 1000 of your customers and know that 900 of them will read the offer within 3 sends of your sending the send button. You simply don’t get that immediacy with expensive print advertising, email or other media channels. Direct mailing coupons and offers is a great way to market, but if you want to reduce or eliminate the costs and time resources that go into planning, designing, printing, mail handling, and postage, SMS Text Marketing is unmatched.

Increase conversion. SMS Text marketing is one of the most efficient ways to reach your target audiences and convert them into paying customers. Having a slow day, send out a text to your customers and drive some traffic. Want to move some extra inventory on short notice? Send a text immediately. No marketing channel has this type of speed and response.

Drive new customers –  SMS Texts are immediately shareable by customers to their friends and family members.  If you send out a great offer to 1,000 cell phones, that text will be shared with others. If only 10% share the offer, that is an extra 100 cell phones that are added to the campaign at no cost to you!

Increase positive consumer behavior. The immediacy of an SMS Text marketing campaign can encourage customers to buy something within minutes of receiving and reading the Text. SMS Text marketing can lead to an increase in sales.

SMS Text Marketing is not Advertising. It is direct communication with your customers. So, successful merchants don’t always have to text special offers. A few times each year they text “Thank you,” or “We appreciate your business.” This ability to directly thank a customer is a huge builder of good will and builds loyalty. You simply can’t do this with print, broadcast or even Social Media.

Raise brand awareness. Getting your brand name and image in front of your audience more often will drive repeat sales.  Seeing your business name and offer will build brand recognition even if they only see it for a second. Also, don’t forget that we live in a generation of sharing.

Educate your current customers. An SMS Text is a great way to keep your clients updated on what’s new in your business. You can share what you’ve been working on, any updates you may have developed, company news, etc. Keeping them up to date and well-informed of the products and services you have available for them may encourage them to buy from you again.

SMS Text marketing is a tool whose time has come. Cell phone saturation has reached 95% in the U.S. People in all age demographics are carrying cell phones able to receive a text messages. According to Digital Marketing Magazine, 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS.

SMS Text marketing is one of the top tools used for business communication daily, and it works. Could SMS Text marketing be the missing piece in your business strategy?

If you want your customers back more often each month I need just 10 minutes to explain this unique and powerful business building tool. After we speak you will fully understand how to build your customer list quickly for more return sales.

Let’s talk business today!

 

Michael Schiano
Text and Digital Marketing Expert
407-437-4059
mschiano@sentextsolutions.com
http://www.sentextsolutions.com

The most effective way to reach your customers in the next 90 seconds

girl-texting-smsIf your business relies on Customer Traffic and you have been racking your brain about how to grow your new customer list and drive repeat business from existing customers, this article from business.com is a must read.

Jamie Tolentino, contributor at The Next Web, says “SMS is the most effective way to reach users, with a 90 percent read rate in minutes. When it comes to timeliness of delivery, SMS maintains the highest engagement rate in comparison to emails and over-the-top (OTT) apps.”

As I speak to business owners about this, up until now, “Hidden Profit Center,” I find they have greatly undervalued their current customers. Most are so focused on generating new customer visits that they neglect the valuable revenue generating power of repeat visits.

Would you spend $20 to communicate your offer directly to 1,000 of your customers today if you knew 90% of them would read the message within 3 seconds? And how many responses would you need make a profit? 1 or 2 customers? Compare this to traditional print or broadcast advertising. The ROI is amazing!

If you are targeting Millennials, SMS is your greatest customer list building tool right now. According to a study by Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS), 91 percent of Millennials are text messaging during a typical week. Fifty-one percent of Millennials are willing to share their mobile number, if given an incentive.

I am available to help you understand how to leverage your customer Smartphone profit center. Contact me today for full details on how to effectively, inexpensively and legally implement a revenue generating SMS Text campaign today!

BONUS: Go HERE for the special report on the Top 4 Industries benefiting from SMS Text Marketing.