Idea Factor Blog

Why EXCELLENCE in Customer Service Matters!

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The other day I stopped at a well known North American Donuts Shop on the way in to work.
We were celebrating the soon-to-be birth of a new baby at our IF Family.

Every now and then, we get together as a Team to thank and honor a Team Member — babies, birthdays, service awards. A great way to chat, catch up with each other as people, discuss our business goals. A mini-State of The Union, if you will.

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Omni-Channel Customer Service for Your Contact Center

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The way that companies handle customer service has changed dramatically in recent years. More than a decade ago, there were only two ways to contact a company – by phone or by fax (remember fax machines?). Today, you can take your pick; phone, email, live chat, snail mail and social media. The list appears endless. The challenge for many companies is not only to be accessible in these channels, which is important, but for those channels to deliver consistent and an integrated service quality. Companies that provide a consistent service quality across multiple channels retain 89% of their customers, whereas companies that do not provide a consistent quality are only able to retain 33%. A consistent service quality across multiple channels will significantly impact company revenue. And this is why more companies are investing in Omni-channel customer service.

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Cost Conscious Reasons for Global Companies to Work with Single or Small Groups of Vendors

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Typical multi-vendor pain points are the ability to service customers efficiently and effectively.

“The more vendors that are in the kitchen, the harder it is to cook a meal.”

 

The preference is to work with companies that have a consistent service delivery model and the same predictable quality of service.

 

While some may see multiple vendors as decreasing risk, it can actually increase risk and complicate the management of SLAs and responsibilities when an issue needs to be managed. Not to mention the complication of multiple vendor touching key components of Customer Service, particularly if there is possible risk of litigation involved.

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How to know that Your Strategic Vendor Partner is a KEEPER

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1. Go for quality, not quantity with your vendor
The old procurement-driven advice on managing vendors was to have a huge portfolio of potential vendors, and put every procurement out to competitive bid, playing vendors against each other and applying pressure until you got the absolute lowest cost. While this can be effective in the near term, there are two risks. The first is rather obvious: if you always seek the lowest cost, you’ll always get the minimum acceptable output. This may be fine for commodities like connectivity services, hardware, and some IT services, but puts more complex endeavors at risk.

For an analogy to our personal lives, finding the cheapest gasoline is fine (as long as you don’t spend an hour driving to save a few pennies), but you probably don’t want the cheapest brain surgeon poking around between your ears.

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The Power of a Thank you

gratefulI received the most wonderful gift. It was a card.

 

The front of the card had one word : GRATEFUL

 

And the inside of the card was thanking me for being a mentor and a person to look to for comfort and advice. It was from my friend’s 25 year old daughter who I adore but really don’t see all that often.

 

She has just begun her teaching career and spent some time travelling. Last summer I managed to snag her for a day and took her to some of my favorite shopping/eating places.

 

We shopped, laughed, cried and told each other some terrific stories. I watched her grow up and make s’mores in my backyard, and now I am watching her make a difference in the world by offering them the gift of ‘learning’.

 

I can’t begin to tell you the power of that small card with the words THANK YOU inside. It really meant the world to me.

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The Hang Up

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Are you still wondering if Your Customers would prefer to talk to a Human, or if you should move to an Auto Attendant?

 

It depends on your GOALS.

 

If you are trying to drive your Customer AWAY from your Brand, then I say: Go ahead.

 

We recently had to close our Customer Contact Centers due to a major snow storm. You know, the ones where they close all the schools the next day? Yep—one of those.

Anyway, when we returned to the office the next morning, there were only 5 messages from Customers requiring technical assistance or where to buy information.

Since our Customer Contact Centers receive more than 100 calls each hour, and we were closed for more than 5 daytime hours, wouldn’t you expect there to have been more?

I’ll let you do the math on how many people simply HUNG UP.

Fortunately, the majority of those hang-ups turned to email for quick resolution.

 

In today’s instant society, if you aren’t able to offer the information requested within 2 rings or less, you could be opening the door to the competition.

 

Idea Factor provides a full suite of marketing services including B2B lead generation (gathering qualified sales leads), surveys, data mapping, event tele-boosting, trade show follow up, in-bound and out-bound omni-channel call center services, data cleansing, list cleaning, customer retention and loyalty programs.

Our commitment to excellence in customer service has awarded us repeat business for more than 25 years, from both our global and community clients. To find out more go to www.idea-factor.com

 

Confessions of a Hoarder

hoarder-boxesAre you a Hoarder?

I just found out that I am!

We have lived in our house for 20 years and are about to re-finish our un-finished basement. That means there is a lot of STUFF that
has to go.

 

For years I complained that my husband is a pack-rat. But now that I have been looking in cupboards and on shelves, it is with great embarrassment that I admit … it’s ME! Read More

WHY AI & Chatbots Make Me CRAZY!

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My recent experiences with artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, especially those used for CUSTOMER SERVICE, have left me feeling irritated rather than amazed — and I don’t think I’m alone.

 

How do I hate AI? Let me count the ways:

 

THEY Want to Talk Your Ear Off!

If I chat with a human being, I can express complex issues and speak in long, content-rich paragraphs. The person is able to decode and parse what I say, even when there is more than one thought involved. This makes my interaction more efficient.

Chatbots, on the other hand, aren’t able to consume a firehose of human language. They keep coming back and asking question after question. It’s like a chatty neighbor who keeps talking and talking when you have work to get back to. With chatbots, there is a lot of repeating and “did you mean this?” chatter. They have to be walked through a problem while a person can hear the whole problem and break it down themselves.

I ran into this with Visa Card support. I needed to ask what seemed like a simple question about my account. It was the type of question a human could (and did) answer in less than a minute. The VISA chatbot, however, couldn’t understand my question and kept responding with more and more irrelevant questions of its own in a vain attempt to understand what I wanted. I finally had to ask for a human.

 

Chatbots Take More Time Than a Human

Since chatbots are so inefficient in their “speech” they take a lot longer to find a solution outside the most common ones. That would be only mildly annoying if they offered a single interaction such as “What can I help you with?” followed by a “Is this what you are looking for?” answer and then a pivot to a human agent if it didn’t resolve your issue. I also find the voice extremely condescending in it’s over-zealous desire to sound like a human.

Unfortunately, that’s not how they work. Instead, they continue to ask questions until you give up. Sometimes, they don’t give up even when you demand a human. I recently went to the Verizon Wireless customer service chat expecting a human. It was obvious I was speaking to a chatbot — it kept making really silly suggestions — and I demanded an agent. The chatbot persisted until I asked for an agent THREE TIMES and then it sent me into the chat queue. The question was more complex than the chatbot could handle but it wouldn’t give up. The chatbot wasted my time before finally getting me to an agent that could help … two minutes later.

 

It’s Not About Service — It’s About Costs

Chatbots leave one with the impression that chatbots are not intended to front-end a human interaction or gather information to make that interaction more meaningful. Instead, it is pretty obvious that chatbots exist to keep you from speaking to a human. They are just like interactive voice responses (IVR), which also exist to save costs by keeping you from a human, only they require more effort.

It’s much easier to say a simple command or press “1” on your telephone keypad (although, in all fairness, I do find myself yelling “Agent!” at the IVR voice recognition a lot. So I guess I hate IVRs as much as chatbots.)

What makes the cost shift obvious is the implementation of most customer service chatbots. They don’t ask for some basic information (account number or product model) which could then be used by a human agent. Instead, they try to solve the problem and keep doing that even when it’s out of its league. This is just an IVR jail, only with more typing.

In the end, when I am answered by this level of technology, I’m left with a very firm impression that this company does not want my business.

Ahhh – how great it is to have OPTIONS!

 

Idea Factor provides a full suite of marketing services including B2B lead generation (gathering qualified sales leads), surveys, data mapping, event tele-boosting, trade show follow up, in-bound and out-bound omni-channel call center services, data cleansing, list cleaning, customer retention and loyalty programs.

Our commitment to excellence in customer service has awarded us repeat business for more than 25 years, from both our global and community clients. To find out more go to www.idea-factor.com

 

 

A Healthy Sales Pipeline

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Healthy Sales Pipelines Eliminate the Peaks and Valleys of Sales Goals

Achieving your monthly sales goal can be stressful…

 

 

Maintaining a healthy Sales Pipeline is the key to a consistent and predictable sales performance. It is the best indicator of your sales team’s health. Having a bigger Pipeline is not necessary, it is important to have the RIGHT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES in the funnel. Your Sales Pipeline is your key for evaluating, managing and improving your sales process and sales team, hence the importance of making sure that it is constantly filled with new opportunities.

 

Problem is that most Sales People are really good at the ‘sales part’… creating relationships, answering objections, preparing quotes and closing deals, but not so great at the opening the door part.

 

And for good reason. The skill set of the Sales Rep and the Business Development Person are completely different.

 

If you want to bring new life to your Field Sales Team, give them the kind of leads that make them bounce out of bed in the morning.

 

How?

Use your Business Development Team to:

  • Source a list within the verticals that you have experience in
  • Identify 2 to 3 key decision maker titles
  • Obtain the names of the people under those titles
  • Send them interesting direct mail
  • Follow up with a phone call to create interest and awareness around your service and product offerings, source for pain points and book a Face to Face meeting for your Field Reps (This usually takes more than 10 phone calls, hence not a good use of the Field Rep’s time)
  • Send the Field Rep the date and time of the meeting, the insights gathered during the conversation, as much information as possible about the Key Decision Maker they will be meeting with, and any other Key Influencers identified along the way.

It’s a Sales Opportunity — all tied up in a bow!
If your sales rep is NOT FIRED UP by that kind of Qualified Opportunity… we can re-direct you to a site to help find the Perfect Field Rep … wink wink.

Wishing you a healthy pipeline and terrific sales.

 

Idea Factor provides a full suite of marketing services including B2B lead generation (gathering qualified sales leads), surveys, data mapping, event tele-boosting, trade show follow up, in-bound and out-bound omni-channel call center services, data cleansing, list cleaning, customer retention and loyalty programs.

Our commitment to excellence in customer service has awarded us repeat business for more than 25 years, from both our global and community clients. To find out more go to www.idea-factor.com