I recently had the opportunity to do some work with a company that had a pretty decent DRTV campaign running. I say decent because it had a good product and the DRTV campaign’s production values were excellent. But the product was complicated and lent itself to a complex offer that a two-minute spot couldn’t fully explain. The spot generated much interest and strong call volume, which would suggest that the campaign was a winner, right?
Until those calls hit the call center.
What do you get when you mix a complicated product offer with call-center staff that doesn’t have the training (or sales acumen) to convert? A company that’s bleeding potential customers in the call center. In essence, a lower than what should be call-to-order ratio, with a giant chasm between the prospect’s understanding of the offer and the customer service rep’s (CSR) ability to close the sale.
The Great Call-Center Disconnect:
Companies need to function under the guise that great — even sometimes so-so — direct marketing will make the telephone ring, but expertise in the call center will make the cash register sing! Ask yourself the following questions when evaluating your call center’s effectiveness:
My Biggest Pet Peeve (and One for You to Ponder)
Ask yourself this question: With the millions of dollars companies spend on inventory, marketing, and general and administrative expenses, why are the people on the phones the least educated and, most importantly, lowest paid employees in the company? These are the people on the front lines of your business every day. Every penny of spend filters through either the call center or your website.
Forget sales conversion for a moment. What about contact capture?
What are you doing to ensure that every call that comes into your call center becomes an opportunity? Are your CSRs doing all they can to entice callers who aren’t ready to buy into giving out their information and blessing to continue the sales dialogue? Some examples include the following:
- Are you offering callers who don’t buy some sort of company literature — brochures, catalogs via regular mail, PDFs via email?
- How about an email newsletter opt-in? If they don’t buy, this is a perfect opt-in point.
Handling Missed Opportunities
There are many ways to capture consumers’ contact info in your call center. But be sure to also look at missed opportunities to convert more sales.
- Are you downselling a less expensive product or a different, yet related, product?
- How much time do you spend listening to your reps on the phone? I’m often shocked by how little time call-center management spends on listening. I’m less shocked that marketing and merchandising people don’t listen to calls. And when was the last time someone from the C-suite listened?
- How much time do you spend training your reps?
I’ll continue this series next week with some simple, yet effective, call-center training techniques that’ll help you convert more sales.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog, direct marketing and social media agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. You can email him firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect or read his blog atgilbertdirectmarketing.wordpress.com/.
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