Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Fix Three Simple Blogging Mistakes That Cost You Readers

Hands typing
Blogs are a great way to publish dealership-branded content online without overwhelming potential customers with the same old advertisements for incredible one-day-only deals. Regular and insightful posts on your dealership's blog can help you engage customers and become a trusted source of useful car information long before those customers are ready to buy a car.

Of course, if you already operate a blog for your dealership and you're frustrated by the lack of an obvious ROI, you might be unknowingly making mistakes that are keeping you from becoming that trusted source for your customers and sending them clicking elsewhere.

Routine errors and typos, posting too much (or too little) or even a lack of simplicity can turn off readers, keeping your traffic numbers low and leaving your engagement levels lower. Here are some ways you can remedy those issues and make the time you invest into blogging worth it.

Reduce Your Errors

Everybody that contributes to your dealership's blog should be putting a lot of effort into making sure the content is correct. Are you making suggestions for how to winterize a car? Don't mess up and tell them to put heavyweight oil in their car! Recommending the "Penny Test" for checking tire tread depth? The tread shouldn't be as thin as a penny. It should overlap Lincoln's head! Obviously, you need to verify that your advice is accurate.

However, even great advice can be overlooked if your posts are littered with typos and spelling mistakes. A comments section filled with quips like "OMG! EDIT MUCH?" and "Who edits this thing?" isn't a good form of engagement. Make sure every post is read multiple times by several people in the dealership before you publish it. If your options for editors are limited, give your brain a break after writing a post and review it again a day or two later. After reviewing it with fresh eyes, it should be ready to post.

Strike the Right Frequency

So you started a blog for your dealership and you were really excited about the possibilities. You had a ton of ideas for content and you've been churning them out as fast as you can. Maybe tap the brakes there, Dale. It's great that you have a lot of ideas, but do your customers really want to be bombarded with all of that fresh, new and awesome content all the time?

In theory, frequent and fresh content will help you move up Google's rankings, making it easier for interested customers to come across your blog and maybe even get a viral hit. But viral spikes are only temporary. Long-lasting and meaningful traffic is built by being an authority on what you write. Investing time in writing good, error-free content is more important than a splurge of short posts that hinge on the flavor of the day.

Keep It Simple

Cars are complex. From the sales process to even basic maintenance, it can be easy for somebody in the industry (like you) to forget who you're writing for and slip into using dealership jargon. I know you want to be helpful and give your readers information that they'll find interesting, but not all of your readers will understand complex descriptions of complex practices. Readers won't bother coming back if they can't relate to or understand what you're writing about.

You need to know your audience and keep your writing simple. I'm not telling you to water down your ideas, but try to use relatable metaphors that make a confusing idea sound a bit simpler. For example, explaining the reasons why older cars should be warmed up prior to driving in cold weather can sound boring when you start breaking down oil viscosity numbers. Instead, compare the practice to stretching before exercising.

If you're having a hard time understanding your target audience or knowing if your blog efforts are really generating leads, you need to look into a way to track your lead sources. Have you seen your lead traffic bloom after adjusting your blogging habits? What approach did you change? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Three Feel-Good Customer Service Stories From 2017

Car Salesman Portraying Excellent Customer Service
So you'd like to hear a few stories about amazing customer service from this year? My pleasure. Anyone who has ever visited Chick-fil-A probably understands that reference. What is it, exactly, that makes us flock to the mile-long line wrapped around the parking lot?

Excellent customer service. (Well, that and the chicken, of course!)

Chick-fil-A, the fast-food Mecca of a great customer experience, has taken new heights to ensure its name is synonymous with unmatched customer service. Someone even made a hilarious rap about it on YouTube. The chain's employees do everything with a smile — even during lunch-hour chaos! But even Chick-fil-A knows that negative customer experiences can happen to everyone. Did you know that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience?

What did we learn from customer service in 2017? And how can you encourage your employees to treat customers well in 2018? Check out these real-life lessons below.

Drive Your Customers to Tears of Joy

Betten Baker, a Michigan dealership, is receiving a great deal of recognition for an act of pure kindness. Some used car dealerships can get a bad rap for selling cars with problems, but Betten Baker is turning that stereotype on its head.

Three months after Marty Helton bought a vehicle from Betten Baker, the vehicle's engine died en route to North Carolina. Having purchased a used car as-is, he knew the dealership owed him nothing. However, he had no other option, so he decided to ask for "a used Junker... with a million miles on it and rusty" that he could drive for a few weeks. Betten Baker responded to this request and then some. Not only did the dealership loan him a shiny new Silverado, it told him they would retrieve his vehicle from North Carolina and work with the warranty company to get his car fixed.

Marty was so moved that he shared his experience on social media. His post generated over 3,000 likes, 450 shares and 200 comments.

What a great story! While you might not be able to demonstrate such extreme levels of generosity in every situation, you can always encourage employees to exceed customer expectations. Any personal touch, whether it's a handwritten note or gesture, is sure to enhance the customer experience. The potential for improving your brand's reputation is an added bonus.

Fly Past Customer Expectations

Lost luggage? We've all been there. It's undoubtedly a huge inconvenience, but for one Pennsylvania woman, being reunited with her things was especially urgent. Stacy Hurt, a wife and mother battling cancer, was brought to tears when she realized she wouldn't have her luggage, which included her chemotherapy medicine and a few good luck charms for her treatment the following day.

When Stacy made an emotional phone call to Southwest, Sarah Rowan, the employee who spoke with Stacy, promised to do what she could to make sure Stacy's luggage was delivered before her appointment at 9 a.m. the next morning. When the bag finally arrived at the airport at 2 a.m. after all the couriers had left for the night  Sarah made it her mission to hand deliver the luggage.

Stacy's luggage arrived on her front porch at 3 a.m. with the following note:

It's good-hearted employees like Sarah from Southwest that will ultimately build up your business's reputation for being customer-service oriented. Because many companies are giving their employees more autonomy to make decisions like this one, it's crucial that you clearly communicate and live out the values you expect so your employees know how to best represent the company  especially in a challenging situation!

Walk Your Team Through Top-Notch Customer Service

When an elderly gentleman known as Mr. Roy walked into his local Walmart one day, he wandered over to the customer service desk to request help. Because he was blind, he needed assistance finding his groceries. While the store didn't typically offer this service, customer service agent Brittany Walton walked hand-in-hand with him for two hours until he found every item he needed. The picture went viral on Facebook and was a warm reminder that showing kindness, especially in this day and age, is never a bad idea.

 Customers can easily sense when an employee doesn't like their job or is in a rush to be doing something else. Whether it takes two hours or two seconds, be a support system by carefully walking them through anything they may need help with. Not only will you build a good reputation for your company and yourself, but you might gain a customer for life!

After hearing these three stories about outstanding customer service, we hope it inspires your company to go above and beyond to take care of your customers this year! Check out the infographic "Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel" for more tips on retaining customers with excellent service.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Solutions for Your Resolutions: Call Attribution and Click to Call

2017 changing to 2018 on blocks
New Year, new you. With 2018 in full force, everyone has a fresh wave of motivation to finally conquer those lingering resolutions they've always talked about. For example, one of the top resolutions for 2018 is to lose weight. What's on your list? Whatever it may be, now is the time to begin working toward achieving both personal and professional goals.

Now is the time to evaluate your company top-down and compile resolutions to complete by 2019. Whether you want to enhance customer service, invest more in data analytics to keep up with the competition or increase your bottom line to meet demands from corporate management, implementing an action plan starts now.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself the following questions and check out some of our tips!

Which Campaigns Are Working?

Picture this: It's January 1, 2019. Your image in the mirror scares (and delights) you because you look like your fitness idol. You actually did it! You persisted in pursuing your resolution to be in better shape. The only problem is you can't remember any of the last 12 months. What have you been doing that actually worked? How are you supposed to know what to keep doing for next year to continue this progress?

Much like this scenario, good campaigns don't work unless you know what makes them successful. It's crucial to know whether it was the billboard ads you used all around town or simply the pens with unique toll-free numbers (TFNs) that produced an influx of calls and ultimately spiked your ROI. Being able to pinpoint which advertising efforts convert to hot leads will not only help you delegate your department's budget, but it will also send you in the right direction to find more where that came from.

How Are Your Prospects Reaching You?

Imagine you walk to the produce section of your local grocery store but immediately feel the need to take a step back when you see the impossibly large amount of people with carts lining the walls. It's a blur: someone trying to get the last bag of kale, attendants taking too long to restock the bananas. You question your healthy-eating resolution remembering that no one was on the macaroni and cheese aisle when you passed it. As you contemplate leaving, you realize this would be the third year in a row you gave up. You decide to wait a few minutes for it to clear out but eventually become too impatient. Oh well, maybe 2019 will be your year. Cheesecake for dinner, it is!

Your customers feel the same way when they visit your website and can't find a simple way to call you. More than half of mobile users said that not having an easy call option on a website would make them more likely to turn to another brand while becoming frustrated with your brand. Make it easy for your customers to connect with clickable numbers and secure your leads more frequently.

How Can You Use Data to Enhance Marketing Performance?

It's May. As swimsuit season is now here, you realize it's probably too late to pick back up with your forgotten resolutions to achieve a healthy physique, but you decide to do it anyway. Arriving back at the house due to some agonizing side pains after that strenuous run, you look at your smartwatch realizing you've only burned 15 calories... yikes. Time to get back out there! Thank goodness you had on wearable technology to track your progress throughout your run, or you would be back inside binge-watching Netflix.

Now it's time to use that type of granular data to get your business back in shape. Forbes predicts that 2018 will be a year full of technological advancements  one of the main topics of interest is different types of data collection. With only 28 percent of respondents confident that their company is able to measure marketing performance effectively, change is inevitable. If you don't leverage your data smartly in 2018, your organization might not have any resolutions in 2019. You can't make any business resolutions when your business doesn't exist!

Looking for more ways to improve in 2018? Check out these four marketing resolutions.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

'Tis the Season to Implement Call Tracking Solutions

Office employees celebrating the holidays
During this holiday season, sleigh bells aren't the only things ringing. Holiday sales represent 20 percent of total retail sales in a year, explaining why call centers' phones are ringing off the hook. How are you preparing to handle the hustle and bustle?

To get the manpower needed to take on the complexity of the holidays, companies like Target are hiring 100,000 temporary employees. For many companies, however, it's more difficult and expensive to recruit, hire and train seasonal employees for such a short period of time.

So what can you do to prep the employees you do have for the massive influx of calls they'll receive? Follow the tips below.

Work Hard

With tinsel-lined cubicles, snowflake decor lingering overhead and office buzz about Secret Santa circulating, 62 percent of companies agree productivity is affected during the holidays. Besides the obvious distractions around the office, 45 percent of employees are also taking more vacation time than usual.

It's crucial to remind your team that they are indeed at work to: work. Consider starting a quota competition and be forthright about the expectations you have for your team this winter season. Setting hard goals and deadlines will remind them that although it is an exciting time of year, they still have to focus on the tasks at hand.

Play Hard

While setting challenging goals to keep your team on track is crucial, you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar...

Help your team find the work-hard-play-hard balance. Celebrate everyone's hard work by hosting an office party even if it's just a 15-minute break on a Friday afternoon. Incentivizing employees during this time and showing some appreciation will keep your team relaxed yet motivated, giving them stamina to answer the ambush of calls you're expecting.

Provide Constant Feedback

Imagine excitedly giving someone a gift, only for them to open it and not thank you.That wouldn't feel great, right? Now imagine an employee continually producing good work and going above and beyond, always seeking recognition but never receiving it. Your employee won't keep up that momentum long without getting any praise.

Sixty-five percent of employees said they want more feedback from their employers. Most companies have annual or quarterly employee evaluations, but providing constant feedback gives many employees the drive to work harder.

A call tracking and evaluation system can help you give more beneficial evaluations of your employees' work. Motivated employees will deliver better service and your productivity will skyrocket.

The holidays are right around the corner, and so are all those phone calls. What other ways do you plan to keep sidetracked phone agents on task and motivated before the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Three Ways to Motivate Disengaged Customer Service Representatives

Did you know that 70 percent of customer service representatives will quit their jobs within the year? Yikes. Not only is turnover expensive, but it's discouraging for the teammates who do stick around.

Companies around the U.S. are recognizing this and adjusting the structure of their organizations to keep their employees motivated. Southwest Airlines is a great example. Southwest says the secret to making employees feel appreciated and motivated is this:

"In our 'order of importance', we put our employees first, then our customers, then our shareholders...and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy."

Disengaged businesswoman speaking on phone
Pretty bold statement, right? But the numbers don't lie. Southwest has posted positive net income for the last 44 years, with record profitability in 2015 and 2016. Southwest teaches us all that putting employees first positively affects their attitudes and reduces turnover. Want to follow Southwest's footsteps? Try these three steps to increase employee drive.

Re-evaluate Your Mission and Values

Are your company's mission statement and values in line with the service your agents provide?
If not, it could be that they aren't familiar with your company's values. That might sound crazy, but only 39 percent of employees are aware of their company's mission statement. Of those that do know it, 57 percent aren't motivated by it.

Take a look at your mission and values and make sure they set clear expectations for the type of experience you expect your customer service agents to provide. Getting your employees more involved with carrying out your mission statement will help build employee morale and make them more passionate about being good customer service agents.

Introduce New Incentives

How do you incentivize your customer service agents? Are employees who do the bare minimum treated the same as employees who go above and beyond? The best way to show your top performers you appreciate them is to reward hard work. Consider implementing an employee recognition program that includes some or all of the following types of incentives:
  • Compensation — Offer raises, bonuses or prizes.
  • Recognition — Thank your employees. If they're the type of person that's motivated by public recognition, praise their hard work in front of the rest of the team.
  • Special Events — Have an ice cream social, buy a cake for the department or take top performers to a sporting event.
Whether you award the employee with the most outbound calls or the one who had the best survey results, any of these methods will help your agents feel like their work matters. Experiment with incentives to see what motivates employees most.

Empower Your Employees With the Right Technology

Chase R. on the phone. Literally.
Chase R. on the phone. Literally.
Do your employees have the tools they need to succeed? Listen to their needs to see how you can help make them more successful and productive at their jobs. As an example, say you have an agent — we'll call him Chase R. — who has a hard time handling challenging phone calls with upset customers.

As you talk to Chase R., you realize he gets flustered switching between the call management application and CRM to get a complete picture of the customer's interaction history. While he searches for the information he needs, he sometimes has to put the caller on hold, which creates a negative customer experience.

It turns out that many of Chase R.'s coworkers have the same problem. To help them out, you realize you can improve their jobs with one simple change: integrating your CRM with your call management application. Now all your agents can spend less time flipping back and forth between different applications to look up caller info. Chase R. is happy, your customers are happy, and you're happy!

Whether it's investing in training so your agents feel prepared at work or technology to make tasks easier for them, listening and responding to your employees' needs will make a world of difference.

We won't lie: Reducing turnover in customer service is no walk in the park. But with these three steps, you have a shot at creating an environment that makes your employees want to stay. Just ask Chase R.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Call Tracking Isn't Just Tracking Calls Anymore

businessman dialing phoneWhen caller ID was introduced, the world was revolutionized. We no longer had to pick up the phone to know who was calling. We’ve come a long way since then. Now, customers expect you to know why they’re calling, give them instant answers and quickly solve any issues they have. This can be a feat for any business, but luckily there’s a solution.

Here are three ways call tracking can help your business succeed.

Be Prepared for Callers’ Questions

When it comes to reducing call handling times, getting the caller off the line ASAP isn’t the goal. After all, they want to know that you can meet their needs. Instead, focus on simplifying processes like looking up caller information, taking journal notes about the call and recording pertinent caller information.

If you want to reduce call handling times without sacrificing customer service, try a Windows desktop application such as Callbright Interactive, which pulls up information about your calls in real time. It’ll allow you to monitor inbound and outbound calls, receive call notifications, listen to call recordings and update lead information directly from your desktop.

Send Prerecorded Messages to Prospects and Customers

It can take a while to make sales and marketing calls to your customers and prospects, especially when you consider the time it takes to dial the number, wait for the line to connect and slip in short breaks between calls. In a single hour, an agent will only spend an average of 55-60 percent actually talking to a customer. Save time, energy and money by sending prerecorded custom messages to your customers with our Broadcast Message Manager.

Maximize Your Online-to-Offline Conversions

Ever lost an important sale because you overlooked a web lead that got lost in your inbox? Ouch. Keeping track of those leads can be difficult, but it’s important because the longer a prospect waits to hear back from a sales rep, the more likely they are to take their business elsewhere.

Implement an online-to-offline conversion tool like Lead Chaser that uses text-to-speech technology to convert the contents of the form to a recording. The agent then has the option to immediately call the prospect without even checking their email first!

How will you use call tracking to enhance your business? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vishing: How to Avoid Taking the Bait

Credit Card Information Being Phished
Scenario: It's been a hard week at work, and you're sitting there daydreaming about a white sandy beach with shimmering blue water somewhere far away. Suddenly you receive a phone call from a number you've never seen before, but the area code is local, so it must be important. You go outside to answer, and to your delight, the caller says, "Congratulations, you're the lucky winner of a five-day getaway in Jamaica!" Now all they need is your card info to credit your account. Wow, how lucky are you?

Not very.

Phishing, or the act of attempting to obtain confidential or financial information from people via email, has been running rampant among everyone with an email address since 1996. But hackers aren't just using emails to seize your personal info. Vishing, which is phishing via phone calls, is rapidly advancing. Every month, more than 86.2 million vishing calls are made in the U.S. So what can you do to avoid being lured into their trap? Follow these simple tips.

Don't Fall for Their Lines

Does that phone call sound a little phishy? It probably is. Educate yourself on the most common scams now so you can recognize when one is happening to you:
  • The IRS scam: One of the most prevalent scams within the past year, the IRS scam occurs when an "IRS agent" calls to inform you that you either have refund due or that you owe money to the government. The IRS will never call about taxes owed without mailing you first. To avoid this situation, hang up and on another line call the official IRS number for a reliable source to verify the situation. 
  • Vishing combined with malware: This vishing tactic involves a support representative calling from a company you are familiar with. The scammer tells you that you have a virus on your computer that can easily be fixed with their help. They then request that you grant them remote access to your computer so they can troubleshoot the issue. What they're really doing is installing malicious software that'll encrypt all your data. Never click on questionable links or follow instructions if something seems off.
  • The "yes" scam: Some vishers attempt to record you saying the word "yes" by asking a simple question like "Can you hear me?" They can then use the recording to access your account and provide verbal confirmation for wire transfers or some other questionable reason. The scammer may also ask if you'd like your name on the Do Not Call (DNC) registry. Well, of course you do, but the government never calls people to ask them if they want to be added to the DNC list. If you get one of these calls, hang up immediately and go to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website to register your number instead.
  • The bank scheme: In this scam, hackers call businesses in search of passwords or financial information by claiming they're your bank or business adviser. Alert your staff to never give out PINs or passwords over the phone, and let your bank or financial adviser know what happened.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, knowing about four of the most-used vishing scams will help you prevent scammers from taking advantage of you. Because scammers are always plotting ingenious ways to trick you, err on the side of caution every time you answer your phone.

Verify Callers' Identities

Determining which calls to take and which to avoid can be tricky. When you get a call you weren't expecting, consider these tips from the FTC (we like to call them the Four W's):

  • Who's calling? Identifying the caller should be your first line of defense. Bear in mind that laws require sales callers to state their name and product before they begin selling you something.
  • When are they calling? Telemarketers can only legally call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If a call comes in outside that time frame, ignore it. However, even if a call does fall within the correct time frame, you should still check for other signs of fraud.
  • What's the rush? Everyone is in a hurry these days, but if someone seems exceptionally pushy, that's a telltale sign of a scammer. If the caller won't take no for an answer, just hang up.
  • Why are they asking for sensitive information? Don't provide or confirm sensitive information if you're not sure of the caller's identity. If the caller claims to represent a specific company you do business with, hang up and call the number posted on the company's website to verify that the caller's request is legitimate. If so, make sure you understand why the business is asking for confidential information before providing it.
Be cautious when providing sensitive or confidential information over the phone, or you could lose thousands of dollars — or your job, if you put your business at risk of a security breach — and then you definitely won't be going on any beach vacations!

Report Suspicious Calls to FTC Officials

Or should we say ophishals? The FTC wants to hear about any scams that happen to you. The agency even took two companies to court after they attempted to call people on the DNC registry and sell them fake warranties.

By following these tips and utilizing these resources, you can thwart vishing attempts. Have you heard of any other vishing scams occurring recently? Let us know in the comments.