Marketing, strategy and coaching.

Don’t Waste Information

Automation, Customer Service and Trackable Data

Sales Meeting Program (SMP).In the state of Texas, we have the right to choose our electric service provider. That’s handy, and although many have no idea what that means to them, I know I save between $50.00 and $250.00 a month on my electric bill because I carefully select the electric provider that gives me the best rate for the most optimal time frame. I can do this online, but I always have a few questions.

In Texas, I NEVER want to have a contract date change during the summer, because that’s when the rates are the highest – when you have NO good rates available.

It’s smart, right? Offer the best deals early in the year before anyone thinks about it, or offer super great rates for short periods of time early in the year because once a person is outside of their contract date in the summer, they’re stuck with really high rates that suck no matter who they choose. So it’s a big deal to me, since I get to choose my price if I pay attention. And I do pay attention. This is a sales funnel

I’m writing this while I’m on hold, speakerphone playing some melodic piano that really isn’t so bad.

It’s automatic. Automation, while often uncomfortable for most consumers, has actually proven quite beneficial for companies. It gives them maximum control over time and influence, and when the service is pretty significant, like electricity, people will wait on hold and play their silly games until they decide they won’t anymore, and either way the company wins. I stay on hold because I know what questions to ask. If the wait is quite painful and I get answered by someone who is clearly disrespectful – which happens – I know I don’t want to do business with them. But they still collected valuable data about me while I sat and waited. That data, if used well, might improve my experience the next time, or it might just give them other data … I don’t know … but it isn’t wasted time on their part, I bet. They probably learn:

  • What type of phone I’m calling from, so they can improve their strategies
  • What phone service I use, so they can determine what company they may partner with
  • Whether or not I’ve used their services before, for customer retention objectives
  • How long I’m willing to wait before I terminate the call

What gets on my nerves is when I’m calling through to ask questions of a company I’m already doing business with, and they insist that I give them my account number. They don’t use that account number to find my information, they don’t even pass it on to the representative I’ll be talking to. It’s just a silly waste of time, and when the rep inevitably asks for my account number AFTER I’ve keyed it into the system and waited on hold forever, I always mention that I’ve already entered it. I’m not rude, but they do record the calls so SOMEONE knows that having customers repeatedly enter or say their way-too-long account numbers is a significant inconvenience. I digress …

But they do that on purpose, too, to get you to do everything online. Why? Because that data is also trackable and uses less man hours to get the job done.

Markeitng Sherpa Chart of the Week.So what I’m getting at here is automation, customer service, and trackable data. It matters to every single company that exists. While I just described a familiar scenario that no one wants to replicate, I do want to point out some things you could be doing to increase your sales by adopting some proven strategies that work for other companies every day.

Do you automatically collect critical data when your phone rings?

Whenever you pick up the phone, you should introduce your company, your name, and a pleasant question, “How can I serve you today?” or “How can I help you today?” Once your caller answers the first question, ask for permission to ask a few questions before you get started. Then record their name, phone number and email address – at least. If possible to get an address, do that, too. Before they hang up, make sure you mention your website and your blog, where they can get even more information or leave you a review. As a matter of fact, they should check out your testimonials for additional confidence in your services.

This contact data is NOT for your email newsletter list unless you ask them specifically if they would like to receive it. It IS for your records so you can continue to learn from them, whether or not you got their business. It’s just as important for you to know why they didn’t choose you as it is to put them on your schedule. A follow up email survey gives you an opportunity to learn more about the call. Limit it to 5 questions or less. You may have lost the sale this time, but a great follow-up will have great influence over the next opportunity. Everybody wants excellent, and they won’t forget how they were treated. Plus, you’ll learn how to improve your approach or response next time.

If you’re not tracking every call that comes into your company, you won’t know if you’re being as effective as possible. If the majority of the calls that come in don’t close, it’s time to refine your script to reflect more desirable language for your prospect. This gives you a tremendous advantage over your competitor, because chances are, they skip this step.

Do this automatically. Make this a routine. Create a script that includes information gathering, lead generation, and follow-up – and you’ll begin to see improvement by the second week.

Are you collecting prospect or customer data? How are you using it?

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