Call/Contact Centers

Put Your Best Foot Forward With IVR
October 18, 2006

Interactive voice response systems, or IVRs, have been implemented by numerous companies to allow callers to navigate their way to the right person or department without having to wait for an operator or talk to a live person. To be sure, this was a cost-cutting move for many firms, but it also can be a great tool to help callers get to their end contact more directly. The problem, says Mitch Lieber, principal of Lieber & Associates, a call center management, metrics and technology consulting firm in Chicago, is that, “IVRs have become a barrier at companies for many customers, so much so that legislation

Make the Right Calls
October 1, 2006

B-to-B marketers know that it’s a multichannel world out there. However, multichannel direct marketing doesn’t only refer to setting up a Web site and launching that e-mail marketing program to complement your direct mail efforts. Outbound telemarketing also can be a valuable component of your multichannel efforts—one that can build your customer base and ultimately increase customer lifetime value. Neil Sexton, president and founder of Trinidad, Colo.-based B-to-B outbound telecenter and multichannel marketing company TeleGreet, notes there are a number of key outbound initiatives B-to-B marketers can use to improve their businesses: 1. Full account management. The purpose of this outbound activity is to provide

The Mail/Call Center Connection
October 1, 2006

If you are looking for new ways to improve the results of your control mailing, you may be surprised to find the answer at your call center. A few small adjustments to your telephone approach sometimes can accomplish as much or more than a change in the copy or design of a winning mailing. Keep in mind that the net return from your mailing is the function of five things: • Your gross response (inquiry) rate; • the percentage of inquiries that actually become orders; • the average sales value of those orders; • the percentage of sales revenue you actually collect; and • the revenue you keep after

Prioritize Your Upsell and Cross-sell Offers
September 13, 2006

When offering multiple upsell or cross-sell offers during inbound telemarketing calls, pay close attention to how you prioritize these offers. In general, the conversion rate will drop with each successive offer, so it makes sense to present your most expensive and, presumably, most profitable upsell or cross-sell offer first, then the next expensive offer and so on. There are a few exceptions to this rule: A continuity or auto-replenishment program should always be offered first because it invariably delivers more lifetime profits than any single upsell—even though the up-front revenue may not be the largest of your upsells. Cross-sells that are closely aligned to a particular item

Present the Same Payment Plan for All Offers
September 13, 2006

If you use a payment installment plan for your primary offer, make the same payment plan available for your upsell offers. It’s a disconnect for customers who purchase a product on an installment plan to then be offered an upsell that requires a single payment. What’s more, your upsell conversion rates will increase when you offer the same payment plan. So, if your primary offer is for three payments, then offer three payments for each upsell as well. This allows your call center reps to position the upsell purchase in a way that is more palatable to customers. For example, your rep can offer to

Do-it-yourself Support
September 1, 2006

Let’s consider two scenarios: In the first one, which takes place in the Stone Age, a customer has a problem with your widget. She dials your toll-free number on her stone phone, and the call center rep (who’s wearing a loincloth because it’s casual Friday) spends valuable time walking the customer through the process of hooking up the widget. In the second scenario, you have a customer who has a problem with your widget. She surfs over to your Web site and clicks on the FAQ section located in a prominent place on your home-page. The first few FAQs in the list are the most

Three Steps to Customer Satisfaction
July 19, 2006

Customer satisfaction can be such a big task that it’s hard to get your corporate arms around it—especially if you don’t have a large service department. But you can make considerable progress by tackling the major customer gripes that occur. How do you identify them? Mitch Lieber, principal of Lieber & Associates, a call center management, metrics and technology consulting firm in Chicago, offers the following three-step process: Step 1: Do counts of how many customer service calls get passed up to the president or other high-level corporate officer. Step 2: Track the issues that generate these calls, and segment them into priority levels.

How Good Is Your Customer Service?
July 1, 2006

What’s the state of customer service in America? Given all the attention this topic generates in a consumer-driven marketplace, you probably don’t need to read the following statistics—but to make a point, we’re going to tell you anyway. Consider that: • A March 2006 study released by JupiterResearch reported that more than half of online consumers are taking their business to other merchants or service providers because of poor online service. Ouch! • The Customer Care Call Center Survey, research conducted over the course of 2005 by Ernan Roman Direct Marketing and based on the feedback of a few hundred direct marketing

Make Your Customer’s Wish Your Command
April 26, 2006

The Internet has shifted the balance of power, and the customer is firmly in control. Customers want multiple ways to find information, buy products and get support; and they expect consistent service and recognition across all channels. This customer mandate challenges contact centers to meet these expectations in a time of shrinking budgets and resources, according to “5 Contact Center Megatrends and How to Ride Them,” a whitepaper published by contact center solutions provider eGain. To meet this challenge head on, eGain recommends call center executives take the following two steps. 1. Think like your customers, and design service processes and scenarios from their

Fulfillment Special Report: Visa RED Looks to Speed Up Credit Card Disputes
November 1, 2004

Are merchants ready to handle the fast lane of chargebacks and dispute resolution?One element of the transaction process has forever changed the way merchants process disputes: chargebacks and dispute resolution. Visa USA and Visa International are in the process of re-engineering their dispute and arbitration processes. While deadlines for changes for the Visa Re-engineering of…