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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Latest Ipso Reid study shows a shift towards Digital Media by Marketeers

Research firm Ipsos Reid has been polling marketing professionals annually for the past nine years – an overall pool of roughly 3,000 marketers and people from their ad agencies. In the latest numbers released this week, Ipsos reported a trend continuing from previous years: marketers are thinking about significantly reducing the amount of money they spend on media such as print, direct mail, radio and television and shifting that spend into Digital Media.

A separate study is showing that Marketing will spend more IT dollars in the area of Marketing Automation Tools to support the new marketing methods.

Social selling is one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology market. Unfortunately, social selling is usually misunderstood as navigating the sales process. While technology can help, social selling is about building stronger relationships with potential buyers, based on an authentic sense of empathy and a deep understanding of the problems they face.

Even if they don’t use social technology, good salespeople already know that creating a connection with the client is essential for success. This is why salespeople spend so much time establishing a personal relationship, not just selling their product.

Another study suggests that Sales will also spend more of IT dollars in Salesforce Automation Tools as well.

Organizations that are embracing Social Selling and Digital Media marketing and managing it effectively are seeing real results with a rapid return on investment. Failure to do so may mean loss or revenue and market share. 

Take a well established Canadian woman's wear brand. They target the 30 year old but everyone I ask has no resonance with the brand. Well their stock price has dropped by 50% and they really do not take customer service or Digital Media into account. However, a brand appealing to teens and the 20s has huge resonance with their customers because they are all about customer service and have resonating Digital Media tactics in place.

This mix of Traditional + Digital + Customer Service + Social is key to driving shareholder value.

Lets look at Rogers (RCI). They have the rights to Hockey Night in Canada, own half of MLSE (along with Bell) and all I have been getting from them is hockey and hockey and more hockey. Their $199 NHL GameCentre LIVE™ has some innovative features (camera angles, MyReplay
and Inside premium content) for the hockey fan but they are doing
an excellent job of using Traditional + Digital + Customer Service + Social is key to driving sales of this product. Pay close attention as this will be the new norm for television as it crosses across the digital divide. 

How marketers intend to change spending, on a constant budget
Online: +74 per cent
Social media: +72 per cent
Mobile: +69 per cent
E-mail: +24 per cent
Out of home (billboards, transit posters, etc.): –9 per cent
TV: –24 per cent
Radio: –27 per cent
Direct mail: –31 per cent
Print: –39 per cent
Where online marketing spending is going to increase
59 per cent: Branded content
58 per cent: Online video
56 per cent: Search
42 per cent: Display (such as banner ads) purchased through programmatic or real-time (automated) bidding
27 per cent: Display purchased through a cost-per-impression model
Where social media marketing spending is going to increase
70 per cent: Facebook
70 per cent: Twitter
59 per cent: YouTube
43 per cent: LinkedIn
37 per cent: Instagram
22 per cent: Pinterest
15 per cent: Google+

Irrashaimase and Omotenashi - The True Meaning of Service Japanese Style

I had a wonderful vacation in Tokyo and Hakone this year. I miss the orderly and sheer volume of commuters in Shinjuku train station  
and the natural beauty and hot springs of Hakone but the real essence of customer service. I noticed this many times but came into clarity when we spent a few days in Hakone at a Ryokans style hotel.

Irrashaimase means welcome in japanese and it is stated to every shopper that comes into a store. Now the fancier stores in Tokyo will have kimono clad women bowing down and welcoming you as well. It becomes very authentic and genuine in a smaller or artist run retail store. You stumble into a little shop where and are greeted warmly with "Irrashaimase". She takes time to explain how this village is well known to make wooden boxes and has been for several generations. She again thanks you for your purchase while she takes extra effort to wrap your purchase in elaborate paper, ribbons and tissue.

Omotenashi is the art of customer service in the hospitality industry and it is treating guests that goes beyond meeting their needs and expectations. It also includes anticipating their needs in advance and is usually done in a very seamless way. 

Let us use the Ryokans stay as an example. Hakone is in a national park thjat includes several volcano structures. This release a sulphur gas is evident in the cable car ride over the "Valley of Hell" but also in the abundance of hot mineral springs. These family owned Ryokans all feature the hot spring bath. OK as you check in the hotel, slippers are waiting along with a cup of hot tea. They also provide a small cool cotton towel to wipe hands and face. Now that is refreshing!

Your bags are immediately brought to your room and you will find a crisp cotton kimono to wear around the property as well. 

The owners will then offer to show you around the property and explain to you how things work. We have a lovely outdoor area facing the pond with koi fish and a waterfall. We have a lovely garden with a trail to wonder through. Meals are served Japanese style and oh by the way the you do not wear a bathing suit in the springs and please scrub thoroughly before entering. Thank You and enjoy! . When you get back to your room there is a little dish of snacks. The belief system is that this is a personalized service as a normal offering.

Think about how you want to treat your customers

Customer Service has become the biggest differentiation in retail today. So quickly forgotten but so easy to implement.

"Excuse me but can you tell me where your Organic Almonds are?"  Duhh! maybe its in aisle 5? I think


"Excuse me but can you tell me where your Organic Almonds are? Sure, please follow me ....and the person walks with you to make sure you find them in the aisle....that is customer service whatever style you want to use.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Top 11 Trends Transforming your Contact Center!

Top 11 Trends Transforming your Contact Center!

Most Contact Centers are still stuck in 1990s with menu trees and area code routing where today’s customers are expecting interaction using today’s technologies (and future technologies). Callers have smartphones, tablets, and  laptops (which all have some form of webcam) at their disposal. So before they jump on Social Networks complaining about low CSAT when calling your Contact Center take a look at the new technologies and develop a game plan to incorporate these tools by the next quarter. If you do not focus on your customer you will be focusing on how to manage Chapter 11 proceedings within 3 quarters.

1. Speech Recognition can help a company lower costs and automate the handling of 30-75 percent of inbound customer calls. This is usually coupled with an IVR system to work in tandem and improve call handling efficiency. It’s not just to get the right call to the right agent faster but to also simplify the caller experience when calling from a cellphone. 

2. Word Recognition is also a variation of Speech recognition where words or phrases are recognized and acted upon. It could also be used to trigger an automatic recording of the call if the caller is making threatening remarks. We all know that the standard “this call is being monitored and recorded” is not always true. So when the IVR asks “How can I help you?” and you respond “You guys charged me an extra $90 on my bill and I have no idea why” the system hears bill or billing and routes you quickly to the billing queue. When we get to reliable technology that can detect tone and demeanor accurately we can escalate the call to a higher priority when the caller is yelling or is angry.

One thing to note is that "word recognition" and "speech recognition" are often used interchangeably, but they both mean different things.

3. Scheduled Call Back – “Your call is important to us but we are experiencing more than usual call volumes. Your wait time is 32 minutes”. Nice, the supervisor is excited she is answering 80% of calls in 20 seconds but has not even had a chance to talk to the caller which is a more important statistic.  Ok so now you know that at 10am they haven’t staffed enough agents and after several calls you realize the wait time is always a long time. Not to worry, take advantage of their scheduled call back and let them call you back when the agent is available . This works very well in a blended environment and in fact may be better served with dedicated call back agents depending on volumes. So now you can go back to listening to classical music and checking your Facebook waiting for a call. Vendors, Please ensure that you actually call back as promised to avoid more customer frustration.

4. Smartphones – So by now the flip phones have been sent to retirement homes and to an alien planet that just got 2G cellular, so everyone has a smartphone. So now apps are now available to everyone calling into the queue.  You can now use those features to improve your CSAT scores. SMS/Text messages can be used to initiate the Call Back function or to even request an agent to call when free. Apps can be created to help clients self-serve.

5. Video Agents – Video offers a high touch approach to interacting with customers and Amazon is doing a great job with Mayday. I used a video based kiosk yesterday that allowed me to call a video agent and have them ship a Starbucks gift pack that same day. I told them who I was and who to send it to and it was done. It was so easy and I can see Winnie the agent smiling and so happy to take my call. Now If I am a mortgage or investor client for a bank just think how much better a call can be handled via video. It could be done on any smart device. 

6. Social Media – In today’s environment it may be the only way people complain about bad service and good service. The smart ones use Social Monitoring tools and then reach out to the person and engage them in a conversation to solve problems or to thank them for a great comment. This should be a priority in the contact center game plan.

7. Remote Agents – Todays high speed networks and IP telephony systems make this a reality and can helps solve staffing issues. Moms working from home will enjoy jumping into a queue for 4 hours a day with no commuting required. Time zone variations and overflows can also be managed this way. The biggest gotcha will be voice quality so you need to be stringent about quality of service. One vendor will not allow sales to use VOIP and must place all calls on copper Landlines to avoid QOS and their VOIP system dropping calls.

8. Better Tools – Not every vendor has the best of everything in their solution. You may need to reach out and add new applications from 3rd party vendors to provide the best solution to meet your needs. For example, a prominent manufacturer has created an awesome desktop tool that integrates with Cisco Unified Contact Center and Finesse. It provides enhancements to the Cisco platform that improves efficiencies and CSAT scores in an easy to implement solution.

9. Sales and Marketing Automation Services – There are a lot of benefits to having a CRM or Marketing platform integrated with your IP telephony system. Once that integration is done then you can add the integration into the call center agent desktop. There is a lot activity going on in this market so please contact your company’s Chief Marketing Technology Officer for more details.

10. Workflow and Multi-Channel Integrations – The modern contact center is one that brings all the different communication channels into the agent desktop. These applications can sometimes be best served by a 3rd party vendor that integrates with your platform. The advantage they bring is to offer a solution that is less complicated than your pbx vendors (multiple box approach) if they do not offer an integrated solution. Every pbx and acd platform vendor has different solutions that need to be better explored beyond this article.

11. Analytics – Data and Business Analytics is becoming more and more the norm. Some are tied into various call center tools, or salesforce tools or marketing tools. This data can be collected by the agent during the call or have a dashboard of information available to the agent to make better decisions. Think how useful a caller that has been with Fido since the Microcell days and is thinking of cancelling their service and going to a competitor. The agent who has that information available to them can respond “Thank You for being a long-time customer, WOW over 10 years. We sure want to have with us for another 10 years, may I ask as to why you are thinking of leaving us?”  This is also very important in a Service Desk call where the agent can indicate “We can dispatch a technician but since you are not on a service agreement our rates are $250 the first hour, and then $180 each hour after that and it’s based on portal to portal”. In an outbound sales environment the customer sales data is very powerful and can be used to generate more sales.

Consumers are being spoiled by the disruptive vendors like Amazon, eBay and PayPal and others in how customer service should be defined and how it can be optimized in a way that generates a higher CSAT and more stickiness for more sales for them. Vendors like Zappos use technology to better the customer experience which again means more sales.

Retailers are enjoying the increase in getting more sales by better use of technology but also in the cost savings by being more efficient and productive. Big data is making them smarter in how they treat you as a caller and customer and in how they reward you for your loyalty.

It’s time to stop looking at those abandoned call reports and agent performance reports and start thinking on how the new contact center technology can help propel your business forward.

Note: This is not just big enterprise thinking as many themes apply to the mid-market or small business environment, even non-profits and charities.

Bonus Old School Contact Center gets it Right the First Time

I had a problem with a food product as I was writing this so I thought this could be a great test call. I call the 1-888 number, the ivr menu tree tells me to press 9 for English (they do not know my area code so they cannot assume an English caller), the ivr asks me to press the extension if I know it (they do not have a customer service queue), if not press 0 for the receptionist. 

Ok I press Zero, this could be interesting

After 1 ring a bilingual agent (English is not her first language) listens and tells me no worries

Johnny, coupons are in the mail for you.

We struggle to exchange details and after “My postal code is L6A 5M9” Ok L68 “no its L6A” Sorry can you repeat….”can I send an email? “Yes please to” (so no designated customer service email). 

The call is done in 60 seconds and I am happy and she did not have worry about calls being recorded and probably a report somewhere.

Good to know their Nortsar still works like a charm.