Re-examine Your Call-Center Practices, Part 1
While many catalogers receive the lion’s share of their sales today via the Internet, call centers still handle a significant, albeit declining, amount of volume. Due to the nature of how call centers are set up, many times orders slip through the cracks. One reason for this is technological: Many call centers have systems that impede sales flow.
Other reasons are due to the people in catalog/multichannel call centers. Customer service representatives (CSRs) are the people on the front lines of our businesses, and, in short, they’re the people who can make or break your business. In fact, a number of my recent columns have covered the importance of CSR training, upselling and cross-selling to a business.
Then why, I ask you, are the people who turn all of our marketing efforts into cash the lowest paid people in so many organizations (not including the warehouse personnel)? Does the model we have for paying CSRs really benefit us?
Over the coming weeks, I’ll dedicate this multipart column to helping you make sure every call that comes into your call center turns into an order. I’ll examine techniques that can turn inquiry calls into orders at the time of the call, after the call is over, and even if the call is abandoned and never makes it to a live person.
In the meantime, in preparation for this series of articles, I have a simple exercise for you to try: Walk over to your call center, and spend some time listening to the calls that come in. Ask yourself, “Are my CSRs connecting with our prospects and turning them into customers?”
Spend at least an hour listening to order calls and customer service-related calls, and try to get into the mind-set of both your customers and your CSRs. I recently did this and found the experience to be both an eye-opener and downright disturbing in many ways.
Don’t limit your exercise to just being a fly on the wall. Don’t just listen to calls; get on the phone and handle some calls yourself.
Look for next week’s column where I’ll jump into how to increase your call-to-order ratio.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.