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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to Rescue the Leads That Get Away

Baseball player makes a leaping catch
The one that got away — we've all experienced it. Going all in at the poker table with a full house and losing to a four-of-a-kind hand. Waving goodbye to your middle-school sweetheart when they move away during the summer. Having a fish spit out the hook right before it lands in the net. Coming up short is practically a fact of life.

Dealerships often feel the same way about leads that slip away. These days, every lead can make a difference, but tracking down leads lost to unanswered phones, dropped calls or even bad customer service experiences can feel like a herculean task. Is it worth the effort and resources?

The good news is that rescuing lost leads doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are some things you need to know about lost leads and how to save them.

Recovering From Bad Customer Service

Research firm Luntz Group recently revealed that 40 percent of Americans dread the idea of buying a new car. Basically, they're already cringing when they pick up the phone to call your dealership. That means the first impression is critical to make sure your buyers feel comfortable in working with you and your reps.

However, phone conversations don't always go as planned. A new sales rep might not have much training, and a flubbed pitch could lead to a frustrated customer hanging up the phone. The poorly trained rep will probably just move on to the next lead, and management will be none the wiser. But what if you could be notified when these types of calls happen?

Consider deploying a service that listens to and reviews calls going in and out of your dealership. A team of highly trained professionals can spot mishandled calls like the one above and let you know when a call needs to be followed up on to work out the problem. This way leads aren't left frustrated and telling their friends how unhappy they were with your dealership. Instead they'll be impressed that you took time to make things right.

Returning Missed Calls

Sometimes customers simply slip through the cracks. In an ideal world,  your dealership employees answer every call — whether they're to your sales reps' direct lines or a general line that a receptionist should answer. However, for various reasons, some calls just don't get through. And since many people don't leave voicemails, how will you know who needs to be called back?

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking a customer will try to call again if they don't get through the first time, but that next call could be to a different dealership. If your employees aren't answering calls, customers might think they're not important to you. At that point it's not as simple as a call that slipped through the cracks — callers view lack of responsiveness as bad customer service.

Be sure you have a way to capture call information whether the caller leaves a message or not. It would also help if you could be notified that a call was missed and needs to be returned. You might not know exactly what the customer was calling for, but following up with a missed call can let customers know that you care and you want their business.

Letting leads slip away because you don't want to go through the trouble of following up or you don't have correct contact info is unacceptable in today's competitive market. What are some ways you've made sure your dealership's leads don't fall through the cracks?