Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Age of Instant Gratification: How to Manage Customer Service Expectations

Businessman circling the word "now" written on glass
Instant gratification, the desire to experience fulfillment without delay, has taken hold of our 21st-century expectations and shows no sign of easing its grip. We want what want, and we want it now.

We've traded Blockbuster and DVDs for instant streaming through Netflix and Hulu  why wait a moment longer to watch your show when you can binge watch it right now? We've traded the art of communicating with others for a quick scroll down their Instagram timeline. We've traded walking the aisles of the grocery store for grabbing curbside pickup instantly and heading home to get back on Netflix and Instagram.

Our society has forgotten what it feels like to wait for something. Follow the tips below to enhance customer satisfaction in the age of dying patience.

Make Mobile Seamless and Hassle Free


Approximately 95 percent of Americans have cell phones, and on average, we're checking them 80 times a day. If we went to your website right now, how easy would it be for us to call you immediately? Would we have to search for your phone number? Would we have to type it out on those tiny smartphone buttons?

Regardless of the size of your company, it's more important than ever that you make the mobile experience as seamless as possible. Consider implementing clickable numbers that will let prospects instantly call you with the click of a button. Now your competition will be frustrated instead of your customers.

Contact Leads Quickly


A study from MIT found that if a rep waits 30 minutes to call a prospect who submitted a web page form, the rep is 100 times less likely to make contact. If the rep waits five hours, the odds drop by 3,000 times. The longer your staff waits to get in contact with prospects, the more potential sales you're losing out on.

How can you ensure your staff isn't missing inquiries from interested customers? Should you just make them hit refresh on their emails every 30 seconds? We don't think so! There a much easier answer to end this problem: a solution that empowers your employees to respond to webs form submissions in a timely manner. When a prospect submits a form, the application calls the next available rep in a round robin rotation to guarantee the lead is contacted. Once an agent is reached, text-to-speech technology converts the text of the web submission into a recording. After listening to the recordings, the rep can then place a call to the customer. This saves your reps the hassle and wasted time of digging through emails to respond to potential leads.

Make the Purchasing Process Easy



Back in 2000, the process of buying an item online was as follows: Take an absurd amount of time out of your day to connect to the internet through dial-up. Once it finally connects, access your favorite retailer’s website and check out with shipping options (like seven business days at the earliest for around $10). Patiently wait a week or longer for the item to arrive.

The process of buying an item online in 2018 is as follows: Simply pull out your smartphone, search for an item on Amazon, check out via your Prime account for free shipping and find it on your doorstep within 48 hours — sometimes even sooner.

Whether or not you’re in the retail biz, customers’ experiences with retailers shape how they view their experiences with other companies. Your customers expect a high-speed quality service experience. If they’re ready to sign the dotted line and give you their money, give them your full attention and do everything in your power to close the sale ASAP.

What steps have you taken to satisfy the demanding expectations of today’s customer base? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Help Your Customer Service Team Put on a Great Show

Circus tent
Jumping through hoops, lying on a bed of nails, fire eating, sword swallowing, lion taming. Is this just a list of entertaining circus acts? Or is it how your customer service team members describe their experiences dealing with challenging customer phone calls?

P.T. Barnum, the inventor of the circus himself, said, "The noblest art is that of making others happy." Your customer service team should be channeling this motto every day  even on those difficult calls. By the year 2020, customer service will surpass product and price as a key differentiator for your company, meaning exceptional customer service isn't optional anymore. It's a requirement.

So how can you ensure your team will always go above and beyond?

Make Happiness Their Job


The circus wouldn't be the circus without the clumsy, fun-loving clowns who thrive on others' laughter. Their main goal is to entertain the audience at their own expense. While some customers might be easy to please, there will always be some that are a "tough crowd." If the audience isn't clowning around, do you think the clown just gives up?

Of course not! Like handling a tough audience, managing frustrated customers can be quite challenging, but it is possible as long as your staff feels the customer (or audience) out and then does their best to help. Ensure they're polite, asking questions, listening intently and doing everything in their power to come up with a solution.

Teach Them the Differences in What Your Company Can Offer


What makes the circus so thrilling? Back in the day, people use to come from miles around because they heard tantalizing rumors of the unknown. A dog man? A bearded lady? Circus employees were experts on being different, and their audience flocked to them to learn more.

In the same way, ensure your staff is knowledgeable about what makes your products different, what your customers need, and how trends are changing in the industry. Eight-four percent of customers are frustrated when the service agent doesn't have helpful information. To avoid customer frustration, it's important to continually train your employees so they feel prepared to answer any questions your customers may have.

Provide Them With the Right Tools


A clown without a nose. A trapeze artist without a trapeze. A magician without a magic hat. What do these things have in common? These performers are crucial components to the circus, but without the proper tools, they can't perform their jobs and the audience won't be pleased.

What tools are your customer service team missing? Whether it's a CRM application to easily store and contact prospects, an easy-to-use outbound calling feature or even hiring more coworkers to reduce the amount of missed calls, identifying and fixing problems your staff may be having will benefit both them and your customers.

Need more inspiration on how to improve your team's service? We've rounded up the best customer service stories from 2017.

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.