It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve been in the direct to consumer business. I actually remember the time when if you wanted to buy something in a magazine, off the radio or from TV you only had two options: mail a check or call the 800#. My children tell me ‘don’t brag about the Stone Age, Mom!”
This past week I received comments from several different marketers who proclaim to have figured out how to save money on their advertising campaigns. Get rid of live agent call center agents and fully automate the customer service experience: online CS, Live Chat, Mobile, Text Receipts – anything BUT actually talking to your customer. I heard comments like:
- “Live voices don’t matter anymore as long as you have a computer mouse you can click your way to a solution. Faster and easier.”
- “Customer touch points offline are a thing of the past. Learning how to be engaging online and speak your customers language is the future.”
- “Customers don’t want the hassle of speaking to people. It’s archaic.”
- And my favorite, “It’s dollars and cents. It’s cheaper to lose a few customers by automating everything else than to worry about the boutique experience of an actual customer service agent.”
Perhaps they’re right! Who needs people? Who needs connection? Who needs to make customers feel special anymore? Who needs to make sure that a customer returns again and again due to how they FEEL (not CLICK) through their interaction. If the above Infographic above tells us anything it’s that there is danger in this singular thinking. Consider removing actual people from the stores. No more personal shoppers at Nordstrom’s. Mercedes Benz consultants need not show up on the lot. And all cashiers at every supermarket chain can be replaced by one of those problem-free ‘Self Check-Out’ computers. Think about all the money that will be saved on the P&L. It worked for Amazon who eclipsed Macy’s and Sears among others in the race for Online Sales dominance. If you’re Amazon the rest of my rant does not apply to you. For those who haven’t reached Amazon status yet consider another view of where we are as a collective consumer – a hybrid view.
30% of people will buy how and when they choose regardless of the experience. Yet, when asked, 7 out of 10 people will potentially, if not definitely, alter their next purchase based on their last buying experience. Online marketers call this mastering customer engagement – talking to the customer how they want to be talked to- using the digital portal of their choice.
- People now avoid stores in order to buy online?
- Online reviews can now sink a brand before it is ever experienced?
- Social medium channels have the most consumer sway?
- If you don’t like the price just click around and you’ll find a similar product for the price you desire?
- Why pay full price in a store or website when you can get it for less and faster at Amazon?
- And never worry, there is always a Live Chat agent waiting to address your every concern, right?
TRUE… even though there’s PROOF that in MANY CASES a live agent converts higher dollar amounts than a website or interactive voice response! Converts MORE MONEY per customer WITH LIVE CALLS rather than with clicks…. hmmmm.
This idea of turning exclusively to technology to engage and retain customers is a dangerous one; in my opinion made fashionable by the Millennial Gold Rush of the last five years. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Apps, and all the fun stuff that surrounds this virtual evolution caught all of us marketers off guard. Many will tell you that the new generation has forced previous generations to ‘get on board’ with the new way to do business. The below graphic tells us that if you were born before 1965 you are getting closer and closer to being a silent consumer who will conform or else… (insert scary music here). But for many Brands this consumer group is their target audience. And if your customers are GenX and love Facebook customer service instead of a call it does not mean that they are looking for less formal responses. And the Millenials… they want it now so a phone call will not do BUT….
You’re question should be: how does an emerging brand gain a competitive advantage in a direct to consumer world that is rapidly changing from face-to face, voice-to-voice to fully automated? My answer is similar to my opinion on how to maximize media budgets in this same world – GO OLD SCHOOL ON THEM USING NEW SCHOOL UPGRADES!
Revamp your customer experience to the new 7.0 model without abandoning the strategies that never go out of style. Here are a few tips on how to use a Live Agent Call Center Agent to enhance your Brand, generate better conversion and upfront revenue while securing reoccurring revenue streams from your customers and minimize breakage.
- Change your Call To Action so that ordering on the phone is a bonus for the customer – this works especially well on radio!
- Write Inbound Call Center phone scripts like an 8 minute commercial featuring 2-3 products and surprises for the customer rather than making it an order taking session. In most cases you can introduce your customer to 2-3 products on one call bringing down your overall advertising costs.
- Create an incentive plan that has Live Agents diving for the phones. Paying a little more upfront for that customer experience saves back-end headaches like cancellation, returns, charge backs and brand jumping.
- Use digital newsletters or exclusive video libraries to get a customer’s cell phone number and permission to communication weekly or monthly via text. This is a particular favorite of mine.
- Carefully script a permissions paragraph to secure future outbound calling rights. Make customers look forward to your call, email or text – the right relationship does this.
- Secure a re-occurring revenue streams on the call using a customer benefit not available online or in stores. This is a secret to reducing retail shelf advertising using direct to consumer sales.
- Have 24/7 customer service available using the Live Agents as your Live Chat Agents – why? They know your product better; they are sales people at heart; they encourage a direct phone call which will convert higher; it works better with incentive programs; and you create an chain-link fence around your customer’s experience!
- Turn lead gen calls into sales calls within minutes not multiple emails. Talk your finicky customer through your online sales funnel for better conversion. This is a Live Chat secret weapon.
- Institute a 24 Hour Welcome Call/Email/Text to make sure the customer feels great about their purchase – this is a last minute selling opportunity that is worth gold.
- Reduce back-end breakage by contacting customers before their next shipment via phone. When emailing/texting them – make sure you coax them to call and speak to a specialist if they intend to cancel. Save the Sale agents are powerful to the customer experience.
- Contact 30% of your customers every 30 days with a Brand Loyalty call. This is the new 7.0 outbound campaign. What’s a Brand Loyalty call? The marketer that has the sales you desire is most likely using it!
- Follow-up in-person visits to financial institutions, cosmetic surgery clinics, alternative medicine offices and educational certification companies with a call that offers them ‘next step services’ at a discount.
I can keep going but you get the point. People are not obsolete. Technology and online strategies are revolutionizing the ordering process and customer experience. It is not an either or scenario for the savvy marketer but rather a blending of the two. Think Concierge Customer Service at the Click of a Button.
Make it easy for your future customers… for example… every way that you can contact me (email, text, phone, office, SM) exists on my Facebook Page. Now that’s customer service!
Synergixx has been answering calls for our clients for almost 15 years… we are so excited about the recent move to online customer engagement… because we are clear that the customer still comes first and making them feel special will never go out of style…