The Art Of Breaking Through Customer Communication Barriers

customer communication

Conversations through technology have come a long way, the space contains both personal and professional interactions. When it comes to customer relationships, our approach to communication seems to lack much-needed personalisation. A border can form between customers and agents made of misunderstandings and incorrect data. There are ways through this.

Our CEO Anne de Kerckhove was recently featured in an article by French journalist David Abiker, in it, he comments on Anne’s speaking appearance at a conference they both attended. Her topic of choice focused on breaking down borders, both in business and life.

During the presentation, David and the audience noticed that her zipper hadn’t been done up – what the French and David call “the detail that kills” or “le detail qui tue.” Instead of shying away from the issue, Anne chose to face her faux pas and make it a funny interlude. She addressed the crowd, “Yes I know, I have the zip opened, I broke it in the bathroom, that’s how it is…” Immediately the air in the room changed from awkward silence to joyous relief.

One little zipper distracted the crowd of listeners from a vital discussion but it also proved her point. We can dissolve barriers by acknowledging their presence, it’s an age-old tenet – address the problem before you search for a solution.

Abiker also touched on this messaging in his piece and we can’t help but find a correlation with what we do – breaking borders between customers and brands.

Breaking borders in communication

In customer communication, there are now multiple channels leading to a brand. Often there are too many, causing more chaos than is necessary. We forget that human beings exist behind all the data and that’s a major problem.

“Customers do not care about the extent of your “omni-ness.” They care about the quality of your service,” says Harvard Business Review. 

Improving the quality of service is achieved by listening to customers. It’s easy for service reps to have a disconnected relationship with their clients. Especially when it’s through chat and response time is slow or when agents are located in another country. By humanising the process and using technology to understand customers on a personal level, it’s easier to build a bridge over the gap and get the conversation going.

Much like how Anne bit through awkwardness with transparency, the same process can be applied to customer communication. Wade through the scripted conversations, chatbots and IVR. Walk right up to the elephant in the chat room.

Via: Harvard Business Review, David Abiker.

Why Call Data Can Answer Your Lead To Prospect Problem

lead to prospect

Sales and marketing terminology is an ever-evolving organism. Some of the most commonly used words are those that make up the buying cycle. Terms such as lead, prospect and customer tend to be company specific, often marketing and sales team differ completely in their individual definitions. However, an indisputable takeaway is that a lead comes before a prospect – which can also be considered a sales qualified lead. The real challenge lies in the qualification process. 

According to AeroLeads, “The one main similarity between a lead and a prospect is that both haven’t shown any interest in buying.”

Yet, there are differing opinions when it comes to deciding when a lead is ready to become a prospect who is ready to buy.

The best place to start is to automate the lead generation process and create ideal criteria for both lead and prospect using the most accurate data you can gather. According to the Ascend2 study, “35 per cent of those surveyed said the biggest barrier to lead generation success is the lack of quality data.”

Where can you source accuracy?

Calls. Real-time call data is proven to be more reliable than any other channel and can speed up the lead to prospect journey. Let’s break it down.

Leads are traditionally defined as potential customers who have problems a brand can solve and improve. Providing a relevant and exciting experience in order to turn leads into prospects can be helped by positively responding to patterns of behaviour and most of all pain points. 

Call data metrics provide stats for call volume, calls missed, time of day, geolocation and sites visited – all important information needed to better understand the journey. Cumulatively, these paint a picture of how leads are entering the brand realm and most of all why they fail to become a prospect. If an inbound campaign is working and bringing in call enquiries or website views, the call data will reveal this.

In fact, in the automotive sector dealerships gain 50% more leads when tailoring phone numbers to be displayed based on geolocation.

lead to prospectEventually, leads become prospects after just the right amount of nurturing and follow-ups. Hubspot found that “the odds of a lead entering the sales process, or becoming qualified, are 21 times greater when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after an inbound lead converts on your website.

Response time can aid in turning a lead into a prospect then towards conversion, for any business utilising call centres this is a major KPI. Fast response times are vital in the final stage of the purchase journey. If agents aren’t calling back or prioritising high-value calls, the leads fall away and sales are left with little.

Fill in the spaces between lead and prospect with more exact data via calls, start the journey strong and end with a bang.

Learn more here

Via: AeroLeads, Ascend2, Hubspot.

What Customer Data Can Do For Dealerships

data

The dealership is the final stop on the purchase journey for an automotive customer but the experience usually begins in a third-party environment. Most customers aren’t willing to endure the long purchase process dealerships offer on the ground. A study by Cox Automotive found that dealerships scored a 46% satisfaction rate for how long the final purchase process takes.

“Despite billions spent by OEMs (brands) and dealers on modern showrooms, slick mobile apps, and armies of social media managers, the human element —the last mile of the customer experience—is keeping consumers away from dealerships and crippling the auto industry,” writes Lior Arussy, CEO of Strativity Group for Dealer Marketing Magazine.

Aligning the human workforce with the digital experience comes down to how the scores of customer data streaming in and out of dealership management systems are utilised and how ready sales teams are to use this to their advantage.
Dealerships have a lot on their plate, often one dealer is managing multiple car brands, leads can get lost in the ruckus. At times customers walk in unannounced and dealerships are ill-equipped to meet expectations.

Therefore the human element can be improved by auto brands both acknowledging the needs of an empowered customer and equipping their teams to handle multiple interactions. It’s not just about gut instinct and talent anymore, data is there to be used and the dealerships that fail to modernise will fall behind.

This is where a data-driven (pardon the pun) approach comes in handy. Here are a few ways to apply customer data to improve the dealership experience.

Collect data!

Gauging a potential buyer’s digital context is the first step to a more complete understanding. How did they get there? Was it a dealership group landing page, a PPC ad via Google or a banner ad on a news centre like the Guardian website. Round up the context with the product itself, i.e., the car make and features. When all this data is collected, the context is complete. Customers that call or arrive from online forums are the easiest to track with the right technology, walk-ins can also be recorded into the CRM using registration forms or geofencing.

Profile and segment

After data is organised into profiles, it can be segmented and prioritised. Say one particular caller is interested in a luxury model, they would be placed in a higher value segment due to their increased CPA (cost per acquisition). Prioritising these callers based on aspects such as; location and car brand helps dealerships utilise their time and expertise better, in addition to improving customer experience and pick up rates. This kind of process is important for dealerships that sell more than one car brand because callers are assigned to a specific salesperson who has extensive knowledge of a particular model.

Dealerships Solution

Finally, data doesn’t have to be scary

For dealerships who are wary of the huge undertaking that comes with overhauling a legacy system, there is a silver lining. Integrations! These are useful because they are able to pass incoming data into an existing DMS (dealership management system) and make the process of change less jarring for auto brands and their vendors.

Via: Dealer Marketing Magazine 

A Few Ways Technology Can Ease Caller Complaints

complaint handling

I was on the phone with a mobile carrier recently concerning a serious problem that needed addressing, the company in question had made a massive error with my service. I was inconvenienced, frustrated and needed the problem resolved. My complaint required some efficient handling. Instead, I was sent through an IVR labyrinth tempered with clueless representatives. For an hour I listened to Stevie Nicks crooning between agent conversations. By the end, I was more inconvenienced, frustrated and worst of all, they had ruined Fleetwood Mac for me forever.

As a customer, there is a certain amount of confidence we feel after an agreement is made and our hard earned money is exchanged with an enterprise. That agreement being – I gave you money, you give me good service when I take the time to call. Negative feedback is a weapon we wield ferociously when things go downhill.  Complaint handling is a process many companies struggle to perfect yet it is vital in this age of digital transformation. More than ever the customer is king and personalisation is a necessity for success. What it takes is a balance between human interaction and savvy technology. Also, zero IVR. Here’s how.

Digital transformation

Sometimes its okay to let go of legacy systems. Today’s callers expect a technically convenient but personal experience at the other end of the line. They have a complaint but they don’t want to wait to speak to someone and they are arriving from multiple channels. According to McKinsey, “three-quarters of online customers said they expected help within five minutes, have used comparison services for consumer goods and trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”

Huntswood notes that 61% of customers want their complaints handled via email, while 28% rely on the phone. Tackling complaints with a multi-channel approach might be the best way to make everyone happy and using technology to manage this diverse data is the way forward. Customer-facing companies need to get radical to catch up and implementation isn’t that difficult.

Kill the IVR!

Interactive voice response was once a useful tool for call centres, agents were free to personally handle calls that they considered higher value while automating the rest with voice bots. “There was just one problem – customers didn’t like IVR,” writes Call Centre Helper. From the customer standpoint, an IVR involves being stuck in a queue for a long period of time.

If customers have complaints, streamlining their path to a solution is the quickest way to snuff out the flames, making them wait won’t help. Killing the IVR isn’t a literal action, its a transformation. Taking the principles of IVR like; faster response times, prioritisation and higher call volumes while creating an intelligent system that incorporates the needs of both agent and customer is ideal.

Call routing

One feature that can be optimised for a smooth agent and customer experience is call routing. This call distributor uses criteria, usually collected via a digital profiling system, that sends calls to the right agents based on this information. Once the caller arrives at their destination, the agent also has the relevant data to start the conversation on the right foot, preventing the frustration a customer feels when they have to repeat themselves.

Complaints are relevant to brand growth but how you handle them is vital to brand reputation and especially longevity.  

Need a change to your communication strategy?

Learn more here

 

Via: Call Centre Helper, McKinsey, Huntswood.