Sunday, May 23, 2010

Using an IVR effectively


A Practical Guide to Call Center TechnologyFirst – what is an IVR? 
Some people also call it an ACD but whatever you call it, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system is used to get your customers to the right people to answer their questions or provide them with the right information.
 
When used effectively it can be great for your customers – they get their calls answered by knowledgeable people in a timely manner and for the companies its great too ... by knowing who your customer is calling and about what you can ensure that you have the right people in place at the right time and you are able to pull the appropriate information from the system to ensure that this practice continues.
 
However, when an IVR is not working the right way, you are putting your customers in what is known as "IVR hell" – basically your clients are talking to the machine more than to your staff and are in a loop, just going around in circles getting madder and madder. This is one of the best ways to lose business!
 
How do you fix it you may ask? 
Well sometimes the issue or problem might actually be related to the technology itself but more often than not it's the fact that you are offering too many options to the customer or when they actually do reach a representative that is supposed to be knowledgeable in the area that they are concerned about to hear the response that they are unable to help without additional information – which is more than frustrating!
 
The Executive Guide to Call Center MetricsYou need to manage the caller's expectations and to do this right; you need to ensure that your customers know what information is required BEFORE they speak to your representative – mention it at the start of your IVR and at every hold interval that you need to put in. Make sure that the IVR is actually working – try it yourself ... REGULARLY ... and try it from a customers point of view not with your inside knowledge of who to speak to ... get people from other departments to call in if necessary. If you are able to integrate your IVR into your CRM solution do so – having all of the customers information available including past issues reported is extremely important and useful. Finally and perhaps most IMPORTANT ... ensure that your staff on the other end of the line are able to solve the problem! Finally reaching a live body only to be told that they will need to call back does not help your customer's mood.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Using LinkedIn to find a job

Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating & Implementing Your LinkedIn Brand - Social Networking in a Web 2.0 WorldHow to REALLY use LinkedInI've mentioned LinkedIn a couple of times now (see this post and this one) and its a really great tool not only to keep in touch with old work colleagues and keep apprised of whats going on in your industry, but also to find a job.  LinkedIn's job search should complement whatever you are currently doing to find a role via other online tools.  The greatest advantage and feature of LinkedIn (aside from the fact that some hiring managers use it exclusively so this is the only place you would be able to find that specific job) is the fact that you can get your existing colleagues and friends to act as your references and based on your "links" to the job/company in question there is quite a good chance that you can be recommended for the role by someone already working in the company. 

In the current market, any advertised job posting can generate hundreds (if not thousands) of applications from potential candidates.  By using LinkedIn however you are able to get a referral from someone that already works in the company and this could possibly make a huge difference to your chances.  LinkedIn takes the traditional formula of networking and modernizes it in a perfect manner.  Keep in mind that studies have shown that 60-80% of all jobs are sourced purely through word of mouth - with that being said, having a way to make yourself visible to a larger market is bound to improve your hiring potential.
I'm on LinkedIn--Now What??? (Second Edition): A Guide to Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn
Step by Step -
  • Logon to LinkedIn and create an account.  Upload your CV/Resume and indicate all the companies and roles you've had in the past.  Find all the contacts at your previous roles and add them to your network (sorry, went through this really fast, but I will go through this in greater detail in future posts).
  • Now that you have a network in place, you can start searching for jobs that are close to you.
    How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn: Making Connections and Capturing Opportunities on the World's #1 Business Networking Site
  1. Click on Jobs -> Find Jobs
  2. Click on Advanced search (under the Search Button)
  3. Fill in the fields on the next screen but make sure that you sort by Relationship
  4. On the next screen you will be presented with a list of relevant jobs based on the criteria you have selected previously.  Underneath each role however is the phrase "See people in your network who can help you get this job".  Click on this link and you will see people that are currently in the company that is hiring for that role.  Each layer of your network is given a number so if you see a "1" for any of these names then that means this is someone you know and have in your direct network.  A "2" would be someone that knows someone that you know - that is, you share a common contact.  Each subsequent number indicates a person that is that much further away from you.  Remember, with the LinkedIn search you can actually search for a specific company or a specific region to narrow down your search even further and you can even filter by the relationship.
  5. Once you have found someone that can help you, the next step is initiating contact.  If they are in your direct network thats fairly easy as its a simple email from within LinkedIn.  If however they are removed from your direct network by one or two steps, you would need to get a referral from someone that you know.  LinkedIn makes this easy also however as they give you a list of people in common that you share and you simply have to ask someone you know to referr your application onwards.
    Mastering Linkedin In 7 Days Or Less
  • Once you have established contact with the person inside the company that has the job, its a simple matter to get additional details of the role, the name of the hiring manager, details about the company etc... With this information in hand, you can then personalize an application for the role and either have your internal contact forward it on for you or have it delivered directly to the hiring manager.  Aside from the fact that your application has been delivered from or via an internal resource, the personalization itself will make your application stand out even more!

Whether or not you are invited to interview for the suitable positions you’ll apply for using this process; your response rate should be higher than if you just apply blindly to a job. Best of luck on your job hunt!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Using LinkedIn effectively

I've already spoken previously about the power of LinkedIn and how useful a tool and site it is. However it definitely bears repeating as if you are not using LinkedIn properly you are missing one of the sharpest quivers in your bow when searching for a job or networking in general! If you do not know about LinkedIn at all – make sure you visit the site immediately and input as much information as possible to build a complete and accurate profile.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make with LinkedIn – check your account and ensure that you are not making one of these!

Personalize your profile

Add a photo. People prefer photo's and images and generally if a photo accompanies your profile, it will receive a higher level of attention. Make sure that people can find you by using your real name. The default setup of LinkedIn has a bunch of letters and numbers which means that people will only find you by searching for skills and location, not your name. In addition, LinkedIn allows you to have 3 additional sites that you can refer interested parties to. Use these to reference your blog, your company's website or even your Twitter Feed.  

Recommendations

    One of LinkedIn's greatest strengths is its recommendations feature. Quite a few companies that utilize LinkedIn for their hiring will not even look at candidates without recommendations so make sure that you have as many as possible from your work history. You definitely want to get supervisory recommendations, but you should also aim to get peer recommendations to.  

    Making it stand out

    Use keywords and descriptive words throughout. While you do not want to have something that is 10 pages long, at the same time you are not restricted to 2 pages like most CVs and resumes so you have an opportunity on LinkedIn to actually explain what you've done throughout your career and how your achievements have helped in each of your previous roles. In addition, you want to expound on the actual "bottom line" – what did the company you worked for "get out of it" and why was it a benefit to them.

    Errors and Proofreading

    Perhaps something that doesn't need repeating, but silly typo's and grammar issues are one of the worst things that you could do. It immediately shows a prospective employer that you are NOT detail oriented and that you DO NOT make the appropriate effort in your work.

      

    Updating and Groups

    Another big no-no is inputting your information and forgetting about it. LinkedIn like lots of other sites thrives on content so if you're not updating your information or participating in discussions and groups you are losing a whole new avenue to keep your name "out there". Ensure that any new posts you make on blogs or other sites are advertised in the "What are you working on?" box and that you've linked your Twitter account so that it automatically updates for you.

    Saturday, May 1, 2010

    Choosing what to measure

    Customer Retention : An Integrated Process for Keeping Your Best Customers
    Make My Life Easier - What the 21st Century Customer Really Wants - Customer Retention and Sales Training DVD VideoAn old business axiom says, “You can’t control what you don’t measure.” As a result, nearly everything in business is measured, tracked, monitored, analyzed, and benchmarked.  To flip this on its head a little bit though ... should you measure what you can control or rather what is outside of your control?  While it is easy to put a number to things that you have complete control over wouldn't there be a greater impact to your bottom line and the business if you started measuring things that impacted your customers but that you didn't have complete control over?

    You'll find that you will see a far greater improvement as well as improved education for your teams and progression towards your goals, if you start measuring the things that you can influence and not just the things that you control.  "Any color as long as its black" - Probably one of the greatest quotes that never was is a perfect example of this point.  While you can definitely control the color of your product by offering only one choice to your customers you are definitely not going to have satisfied or happy customers if you do not give them a choice.  Total control does not make for happy customers and in a similar manner,  what you can completely control is trivial.  The important stuff is important BECAUSE it’s outside our circle of control.
    Customer Loyalty: How to Earn It, How to Keep It
    Revenue and profit are obviously essential to any business.  Monitiring your bottom line is only one part of the formula.  Its essential that you are measuring the factors that actually are critical to your company.  Here are some guidelines on helping you develop a plan to do this.
    The Cult of the Customer: Create an Amazing Customer Experience That Turns Satisfied Customers Into Customer Evangelists
      Chief Customer Officer : Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate ActionMore Loyal Customers: 21 Real World Lessons To Keep Your Customers Coming Back (Volume 1)
    1. Goals - what are you trying to accomplish?  What is it that your business does and build your goals around that.  Make the goals a stretch but achievable. Determine your measures for success. Make your goals challenging, but achievable. Your goals can be fairly large in scope - decrease customer churn, launch into a new market etc... however while your overall goal is broad in scope, you will need to break it down into specific and achievable objectives that are measurable and achievable.
    2. Company Performance - how does your company compare against the industry at large?  What percentage of your industry/market does your company control or have an influence on?  What turnover does your company have and how does that compare to the industry at large?
    3. Strengths and Weaknesses - be honest with yourself but ensure that you are accurate.  Where are you strong and where are you weak?  What can be done in each area to enhance your company further and give you an increased advantage on your competition?
    4. Customer Retention - one of your main goals should always be customer retention as getting a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining a current one.  Work on issues that increase and improve customer and brand loyalty.  Ensure that your teams are trained on customer service and that a helpful attitude greases more wheels!
    5. Advertising and Marketing - ensure that you are measuring the outcome of any advertising campaigns and marketing activities that your company does.  Your marketing results may be measured in sales (dollars or units), market share or a variety of other factors.  The goal should obviously be the number of new customers your advertising dollars earn.
    6. Employee Performance and Churn - track your employees and their performance.  Top employees are crucial to your companies success and you need to ensure that you are hiring top quality and retaining top quality.

    Cancellation - the final step in a long and drawn out process

    Dealing with customers that want to cancel is hard. I know - I'm personally in the midst of trying to cancel my Television/Internet serv...