Archive | May, 2013

Can Social Media Help With Sales? (Yes. Yes, It Can.)

30 May
Who Shot JR

They probably didn’t shoot him in a debate over social media. But they could have. (source: rockroots.wordpress.com)

We’ve talked about social media before. At this point, who hasn’t talked about social media? Social media is the “Who Shot JR?” of contemporary business culture – pretty much the only thing you’ll hear around the proverbial customer service water cooler.

“How can we use effectively use social media? Does it really matter? Should we acquire a non-proverbial water cooler?”

Now, there’s an answer for at least one of those questions. It comes from Jim Keenan, a social sales expert, who told Forbes about the results of his recent study on the effects of social media in customer service.

The most interesting finding was that in 2012, 78.6% of sales people using social media to sell out performed those who weren’t using social media. He tells me he wasn’t expecting a number that high. Then, Keenan found that when it came to exceeding sales quota (exceeding quota by more than 10%), social media users were 23% more successful than their non-social media peers. Keenan told me that no matter how you sliced the data, social media users came out on top.

No matter how you slice the data. And trust me, you can slice in a lot of different ways.

Many will argue that the numbers may mean more correlation than causation – and they have a point. But consider that over half of the respondents (54%) who used social media tracked their social media usage back to at least one closed deal. Over 40% said they’ve closed between two and five deals as a result of social media and more than 10% of the respondents said; “Yes, It directly contributes to my closes.”

While not quite overwhelming in the way that some data can be, Keenan’s numbers show that social media has a direct positive impact on sales numbers. There are other things that can really help out those same numbers, like paying for leads or advertising, but social media is COMPLETELY FREE.

As in, it costs nothing.

As in, you’re already paying the same price now as you would if you used it. So what do you have to lose?

Social media chart

Studies show that purple and orange are the most effective chart colors (source: forbes.com)

Keenan says the top social selling sites were, in order, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Google+, other. He also tells me that almost 75% of the sales people surveyed said they have not received formal training from their company on how to use social media at all. I’m guessing that it’s primarily due to sales management and their lack of social sales understanding.

There’s an opportunity here. With social media already impacting sales, imagine what it could do if your employees were actually trained to use it. Integrate successful social media strategies into your employee training, and you’ll gain an edge in reaching your customers.

If you don’t have much of an online presence, add Twitter, Facebook, et al. to this list of great ways to interact with your customers. It’s only a matter of time before the businesses that don’t end up in the dust, the modern day equivalent of the betamax. As Keenan says:

Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google Plus, a blog, etc. are no longer nice to haves, they are salesperson must haves.

Betamax

Beta never again. (source: edudemic.com)

Communication is Key

29 May

guidecommunication

 

The future of customer service communication will increasingly take advantage of online and mobile tools to streamline the communication process and provide options for customers to help themselves through the use of online access to information about common questions, issues and concerns. New tools allow businesses to interact quickly, easily and inexpensively with customers.

RingByName integrates with different software to automatically sync information back and forth between your phone service and your CRM. Sit back and watch the system instantly transfer your customers’ contact information into your RingByName contacts list. Simplifying communication has never been so easy!

 

 

 

Lesson #19: Believe In Internet Phone Service

28 May

Few things are as terrifying as bad phone service…

Okay, maybe chainsaw wielding maniacs and midget zombies are scarier, but if your business phone goes out it can be a huge inconvenience (if you’re lucky) or a major setback (if you have zombie luck). There are tons of better options than the traditional phone companies – services that offer a whole bunch of extras plus incredible reliability for prices that will reduce costs. Change plans and you can even greet your chainsaw wielding maniacs by name.

The Call Center of the Future

27 May

futurecallmangagement

It’s clear that your company’s customer service simply can’t be ignored. Customers have greater demands than ever before. If you neglect the quality of your customer service you will lose key customers to your competitors. As we’ve found out before, customers are actually willing to pay more for better service and a superior experience.

Learn more about RingByName’s Comprehensive Call Management system, designed to make your team more effective by providing one-click calling and custom notes. It has everything you need built-in to a single convenient screen. Never miss a call and never miss an opportunity again.

Reader Question: Phone Service TIPS!

24 May

It’s time to answer another reader question. This one comes from Lindsay in San Francisco:

I feel like my employees are great when dealing with a customer or associate in person, but they struggle when they get on the phone. Any tips on ways to improve their phone skills?

San Francisco, eh? I’ll answer your question if you answer mine: Do you ever see Danny Tanner around town?

Full House

This is where Lindsay lives. I assume. (Source: bp.blogspot.com)

I can’t believe that you even had to ask if I have tips, Lindsay! I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve got all kinds of tips. Fingertips. Q-tips. Beef tips… I think I can help you out.

Phone service is different – and arguably more difficult – than face-to-face interaction in a couple of ways. Obviously, two people talking on the phone can’t see each other, and visual cues play a huge part in social interaction (Note: I did not actually read that article, but the Journal of Communications sure sounds impressive). This is a big problem to overcome, because simply being in the same room will tell you a lot about someone’s mood, personality and needs.

Another problem with the phones: a lot of people simply don’t like talking on them. Customer satisfaction gets way more difficult when the customer starts in a bad mood.

So what’s a boss to do when her employees start with two strikes against them? I’d say a great first step is to encourage anyone on the phone with a customer to really actively listen. Pretend to be the sensitive guy in a romantic comedy – great listeners open people up (in an emotional way, not a CSI way).

Dawson Crying

Okay, maybe you don’t want to open your customers up this much. (Source: originalplumbing.com)

Beyond that, have your employees to offer the person on the phone alternatives – maybe your website can help them more effectively, or maybe things would be easier for them if they came into your office. That may not directly solve your employees’ phone problems, but it will lessen the impact on your bottom line.

I also think you can focus on helping individual employees translate their personal strengths to the phone. Figure out what aspects of customer service they excel at – something you probably already know – and it’ll be easier to offer them tailor made suggestions (this kind of tailor made, not this kind).

Otherwise, the elements needed for successful phone service are pretty much the same as those needed for face-to-face interaction. Make sure your representatives are polite and knowledgeable. Keep your service prompt and efficient – hold times are a killer. Remember that an effective business culture starts at the top and works its way down; that is to say, your leadership is one of the most important factors in your employees’ success.

Another thing you can do to help your employees out is upgrade your phones. In the last couple of years, there’s been a technological explosion in business phone service. You should take advantage of these powerful tools to ease some of the load shouldered by your employees.

There you have it, Lindsay. I’ve got tips coming out the wazoo. Hopefully you found something useful in there. If not, you can always give me a call.

Wazoo

This is what my tips come out of. (Source: candy.org)

Reader Question: Kudos For Technology!

23 May

Today’s reader question comes from Stacy in Laguna Beach, CA. She writes:

I own a boutique clothing store. We’re in the middle of upgrading our computers and switching to a different sales program. It makes sense for us to upgrade, but my staff already knows the current system and I’m worried about training them in the new one while still helping people in store. Any advice?

First of all, kudos for taking the plunge and upgrading your system, Stacy. I’m not talking metaphorical kudos, either…

Kudos

Somewhat delicious and vaguely nutritious! (source: bp.blogspot.com)

That’s right, Stacy, I’m shipping you a box of Kudos Bars – the bizarre mixture of candy and granola that only a child who just finished soccer practice could love. I’m not sure where to buy these anymore, but I’ll make it happen. Maybe they’re big in Japan.

Anyway, moving on to your question… there are definitely issues that come with a technology upgrade, and you’ve pointed out one of the big ones: what’s the best way to integrate the new stuff?

The first thing you can do is know the new system backwards and forwards yourself. As the boss, it will really help your employees if you’re an authority on the thing they’re learning. One of the most

Nerd

A nerd can help. (source: dvuser.co.uk)

confusing things about learning new technology is that sometimes it’s hard to even know the right questions to ask. The more you learn about your new toy, the easier it will be to navigate any issues.

Maybe you’re not a technophile (or maybe you are, but you’re the boss and you’ve got more important things to do, like worry about that stinking Spiderman), so you might also think about hiring someone with expertise in the new system, or at least someone who will pick it up quickly. Either way, having a point person for your staff’s questions will make things way easier.

images

The learning curve for drawing a learning curve can be steep, too. (source: casualgamedesign.com

If you haven’t already decided on your new system, I’d recommend checking out reviews of the products you’re considering. It sounds like ease-of-use is one of your primary needs, so Google your options and see what your peers have to say about the learning curve. You’re also likely to find mentions of the product’s customer support staff, which could be useful in finding a company that will keep working with you after you’ve bought their product. Who knows, there might even be a book or two out there that can guide you on your way (there’s no shame in being a dummy, Stacy).

However you decide to go about integrating this new technology, just remember that’s it’s a big step for your business. There will probably be a few hiccups along the way, so don’t panic. As long as you can find a partner offering powerful business tools, and you do your best to educate yourself and your staff, the upgrade will work out for you.

Even if it doesn’t, you’ll always have your Kudos.

A Mobile Planet

22 May

mobileplanet

The adoption of mobile devices has spread around the globe and mobile web traffic has increased dramatically as well in the last year. These changes signal a changing marketplace, one that increasingly incorporates these new types of customers and focuses on how to reach them. One way to do that is through your phone system.

RingByName integrates with all leading business CRM and social networking tools including Salesforce.com, Google Contacts, Microsoft Outlook and over 20 others. Integration with Facebook and Twitter is coming soon.

Lesson #18: Customize Your Business

21 May

Lots of successful businesses build customer loyalty with personalized service. No, not like this.

The more personal you can be with your patrons, the more likely they are to come back. Do you think Norm would have kept going back to Cheers if nobody knew his name? The bar would have needed a whole new theme song! Now, you don’t need to memorize names and faces like some kind of Jason-Bourne-super-spy, but the more information about your clients you have on hand, the better. Try a handy dandy phone or computer service that can do that work for you, and create your own business full of Norms.

The Growth of Mobile Use

20 May

howusecellphones

American consumers are rapidly embracing applications on their mobile devices. The spread of mobile use is changing the way we interact in  our everyday life. With so many potential uses for your phone applications, why not use it to better your business?

RingByName includes a powerful mobile app that gives you all the great features and productivity of our desktop application. This means that when you leave the office you still have the ability to see who is calling, make notes and transfer calls to the right person.

One Simple Fix For Broken Service

17 May
Ice Cube

“I wish there was more comprehensive data about my consumer base, G.” (source: rollingstone.com)

The wise man pitctured aboce once told us to “chiggity check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Sage advice from a dude named after frozen water. And yet, for some reason many business do not check themselves. Is the problem that they do not know they’re going to wreck themselves?

Our friends at Forbes think that might be part of the issue when it comes to bad customer service (note: I say “our friends at Forbes” in the same way I might say “my friend Mick’s band is on a 50th anniversary tour”), and they’re also pointing out a solution:

You’ve probably seen this survey question before, as loads of big companies use it: “How likely would you be to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” You’re asked to rate that likelihood on a 1-10 score …The magic comes in how you evaluate and follow up on the scores you get.

You can use this single question to derive a figure known as your Net Promoter Score, a concept developed by Satmetrix, loyalty expert Fred Reichheld, and consulting firm Bain & Company.

I was surprised to see that this kind of tool is so easily accessible to small business owners, so you might be, too. Even without the resources of a huge, Golitahan service team (yes, Goliathan is a word, I just looked it up), it’s easy to find out exactly how psyched or de-psyched (I’ll admit this one is not a word) your customers are about your brand.

Goliathan

David vs. Goliathan (source: siliconangle.com)

[The] 1-10 scale is broken out into three categories — customers who responded with a 1-6 are considered detractors of your brand who will actively trash you to their friends, while 7-8 responders are considered passive or neutral. Only 9 and 10 scores are considered “promoters.”

To find out how you rate in customer service, you subtract the number of detractors from the number of promoters. The result is your Net Promoter Score.

I know, I know. All this talk of subtraction and the numbers 1 through 10 is pretty math heavy. Let’s make it simple: in layman’s terms, the product of the equation is a comprehensive numerical representation of your company’s satisfaction ratio.

Wait, I think I did that backwards. Moving on.

For small businesses, many owners get feedback from customers one on one when they start out. But as the customer base grows, it becomes harder to have those personal conversations.

From there, often customer service devolves into a fire-fighting activity, where most energy is put toward dealing with angry customers and service disasters. Instead, focusing on improving your Net Promoter Score puts the focus on creating a better customer-service culture for the future that will eliminate the need for fire-fighting.

Think about how many more resources you can put towards improving your business if you’re not constantly dealing with angry customers. That’s not to say the act of gathering information about customer satisfaction will solve problems all by itself, but it certainly could shed light on where your going wrong. From there, you can improve loyalty, which will in turn improve your culture and your profitability.

Even if you’re not interested in having your employees (or maybe your extremely cool automated phone system) gather this specific information in this specific way, you should be thinking about ways you can mine your customers for information. If you can find a good one, you might even end up with more devoted consumers than my friend Mick.

Mick Jagger

Data! (source: askmen.com