Friday, April 11, 2008

Who Answer's The Phone? Who Answers The Missed Calls?

Lots of interesting themes linking up this week. So this is a post in two parts: Seth Godwin asked why most organisations are so "careless" about who answers the phone?
"Shouldn't every single inbound call be answered in one ring? Shouldn't there be as much spent on self-service customer support as is spent on the design of the selling part of your website? Shouldn't you be tracking in the finest detail what people have to say when they call in? Shouldn't you be rewarding call center operators by how long they keep people on the phone, not how many calls they can handle a minute? Shouldn't there be an easy, fast and happy way for an operator to instantly upgrade a call to management (not a supervisor, I hate supervisors) who can actually learn something from the caller, not just make them go away?"
Calls coming into any business can be analysed for underlying causalities. Seth wanted to say "hey, your product changed and I don't think that's been in a good way". Basically he wants to help you develop a product that appeals or re-appeals to the people that made your brand successful in the first place. Offering him another bar (of the same) chocolate is obviously lame. Routing him through to "Frank, our chocolate mixing guy", might seem weird at first, but hell, why not? Frank gets to talk to a customer and connect with a customer, with someone that actually cares about his part of the product development. At least, everybody will have an intelligent conversation. Of course its hard to have this conversation in the first place if you don't answer the phone. Ever heard the phone ring out in your office? Bet you have. Bet you have no way of knowing if it was important or not either. So the first take away: perhaps even more time should be spent in matching inbound callers, and their inbound calling contexts, to actual agent skills. I know this topic isn't new, but so few companies seem to be doing this well IMHO. And now to our second, related point: Jim Gilbert is a marketing guy at eDiets and has a lot to say about marketing and customer service in the catalogue industry. To speak to the issue at hand, when the phone rings in this environment he believes that their are four types of prospect inbound call outcomes: 1. calls answered where an order occurs; 2. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data captured by the customer service rep (CSR); 3. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data not captured by the CSR; and 4. calls not answered where no order occurs (calls abandoned). Jim, then goes on to give some ideas on how you might respond to scenario 4 in particular. In this scenario Jim reckons that you can do a "reverse look up of the ANI (automatic number identification) and perform a match up of that number with an address. The success rate of such match up's is about 30-40%. Similarly, you could also just send a "missed call interact" from VoiceSage and give the customer one of the 3 known reasons why they were calling (i.e. were you calling to order a catalogue, if so press 1, and then get them to confirm their address. If the address is incorrect hook them back to customer service and get the correct address). Simple. And hey, if you do this kind of thing really well, you will probably be very easy to contact if anything does ever go wrong with the service or the products you buy from this company, thus increasing my likelihood of buying. So take away 2, is the same as take away 1: even missed, dropped calls can be re-engaged with through good forward planning.

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