Category Archives: Articles

Talent, Tech and TAS

How Telephone Answering Services Use Automation to Thrive

TAS platform from SingleComm

By SingleComm

In today’s workplace, hiring exceptional talent has become an impossible task for telephone answering service (TAS) companies. With the great resignation showing no signs of easing, companies realize the challenge of building an exceptional team.

Even after hiring, companies can lose agents to burnout caused by high call volume, not to mention high stress. So how do you build an efficient, reliable TAS business without onboarding additional, difficult-to-find talent? By turning your attention to automation tools that empower your team to deliver results.

The Costly Conundrum That Challenges TAS Companies

With unprecedented labor shortages, TAS companies realize hiring is taking longer than expected. This shortfall in human resources leads to:

  • Slower growth
  • Overworked agents
  • Unsatisfied customers

Of course, hiring talent is just the beginning. Companies are also tasked with retaining top employees. According to a study by Microsoft, more than 40 percent of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs. Employees want to feel valued without feeling overworked.

This presents a challenge when call agents feel worn down with reduced staffing, high call volumes, multiple handoffs, confusing scripts, and time-consuming tasks. It’s a costly conundrum.

But the solution doesn’t have to be hiring and the months-long wait to bring on team members, which may eventually lead to more turnover, more risk of burnout, and more lost revenue. The modern, recession-proof solution is in empowering talent through tech.

The Focus on Automation

As stated in the Harvard Business Review, better retention comes from improving employee satisfaction and reducing environmental pressures. Advanced automation accomplishes this by elevating your team’s performance, making them feel valuable and confident while also relieving environmental pressures.

Instead of looking for outside help, agents will feel they have the technology to exceed customer expectations. Your team will be able to do more for less without the need to invest in IT resources, licenses, and other technology.

With cloud-based automation tools, agents no longer have a need for softphones, VPNs, and remote desktop servers. Some of this cloud architecture also includes built-in resilience and PCI, SOC2, and HIPAA compliance.

Improved retention comes from finding ways to support and empower your agents with seamless tools. It’s an opportunity to do more with optimized efficiency.

Start Doing More with Less

Implementing advanced cloud-based tools for your business elevates your team’s performance and efficiency while other companies wait to hire. There are several key time-saving automation tools that reinvigorate call agents and improve workplace efficiency. These include:

  • Personalized Scripts:Empower agents with customized messages that help them easily and confidently navigate scripts while decreasing agent training and ramp-up time
  • Automatic Dispatching: Eliminate agent error with automatic dispatching that frees them up to do more of what they do best: support and represent your clients
  • Omnichannel Strategy:Use a TAS solution that offers a fully integrated suite of digital channels, including web chat, two-way SMS, two-way email, social, and messaging channels
  • Business Intelligence: Employ a business intelligence tool that offers custom reporting without the need for programmers

Leveraging these cloud-based automation tools is possible, which provides your team with the automation tools and confidence to deliver exceptional results. This offers your organization the opportunity to pursue actionable customer insight that allows your team to work smarter, more coherently, without waiting for another hire to arrive.

SingleComm: TAS solutions

With a combined sixty years of industry experience, SingleComm delivers a TAS platform with fully integrated voice, omnichannel, scripting, and dispatch. Enjoy peace of mind with built-in resilience and redundancy with their cloud-native platform. Access a fully integrated suite of channels, including messaging, web chat, two-way SMS, two-way email, and social.

Get customized messaging, automated tools, and PCI, SOC2, and HIPAA compliance, all without the need for IT resources or licenses. Run your business more efficiently and easily than ever before with this innovative TAS solution from SingleComm.

Embrace SaaS Flexibility

Tap Internet Provided Services to Maximize Outcomes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a subscription service that provides software solutions from a centrally located host. It also goes by other names, with some vendors making distinctions between various offerings. For our purposes, however, we’ll look at the concept generically.

SaaS offers several benefits not found in traditional premise-based call center solutions.

Affordable

SaaS is a subscription service, usually paid monthly, often in proportion to usage or configuration. As a monthly expense it shows up on your operation’s income statement. The SaaS provider handles all support and maintenance.

This contrasts to a premise-based system that’s installed at your call center. This system requires that you purchase it, install it, and maintain it. The purchase price appears on your balance sheet. The distinction between income statement and balance sheet is significant from a financial and tax perspective.

Scalable

When you buy a system, you make a guess at the size of the system you need. This includes the number of stations, ports, and options. The result is that you may pay per capacity you never use or find yourself under resourced and needing to buy more.

With SaaS you can make quick adjustments as needed to scale up to handle additional traffic or cut back to save money.

Portable

Moving an installed system from one location to another is a time-consuming, expensive task. It involves downtime, which inconveniences callers. With SaaS moving is easy. All you need is a quality internet connection and a device (usually a computer) to connect to it. This is ideal if you need to react quickly to changing situations such as a pandemic, manmade catastrophe, or natural disaster.

Current

When you buy and install a premise-based system, you quickly find using a platform that’s not running the latest version of software or you find yourself buying periodic updates. With SaaS this is never an issue. The provider keeps their hosted solution on the latest version, and all you need to do is login to access it.

Summary

Using a SaaS solution for your call center provides many advantages. It is affordable, scalable, and portable. It’s always up to date. Though you may have a business case or strategic purpose for purchasing, installing, and maintaining a premise-based system in your call center, don’t accept this as the default solution.

Give SaaS thoughtful consideration.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

Vendor Profile on Amtelco

Amtelco has been a well-known name in the telecommunications industry for over forty-five years providing call center communication systems, software applications, and telephone switching technologies. Amtelco and its other divisions (Telescan and 1Call), offer innovative technology solutions to meet the needs of call centers, contact centers, and healthcare organizations.

Prioritizing All Members of the Amtelco Family

Even as a family-owned business, both employees and customers are considered part of the Amtelco family. Amtelco is proud to have participated in and received a Top Workplaces award three years in a row. This award is based solely on employee feedback offered through an employee survey.

Under the leadership of Tom Curtin, CEO, Amtelco continues to grow and add new products and services to support their customers’ needs. “Customer support is a top priority. Our workforce has increased by 15 percent in the past year to keep up with the needs of our customers,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco CEO.

Their priority to providing five-star service to customers is evident in their customer testimonials: “Our partnership with Amtelco spans forty years. Every move we have made with Amtelco’s products have been positive as they have helped us grow our business. Amtelco’s product offerings are great, and they are always responsive to our clients’ requests. We can always count on Amtelco being a phone call away,” said Sharon Campbell, president of Answer Direct.

Encouraging Creativity and Innovation

Considering and fostering new ideas from all members of the Amtelco family is one of Amtelco’s guiding values. Amtelco works closely with their customers by providing an online forum for customers to submit their ideas for new products and make suggestions for improvements to existing products.

Customers can also search, view, and rank the ideas submitted by others. Amtelco’s software department reviews the ideas and suggestions and decides which ideas to implement.

Creating Reliable Products that Empower Others to Communicate Quickly and Securely

Amtelco’s call center technology is entirely software-based and virtualized, with cloud-based capability. Their Genesis system offers flexibility and growth, which is imperative in today’s ever-changing environment.

Skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text-to-speech, and voice services are available to improve call routing and management. Database-driven call scripts automatically guide agents through even the most complex calls. Prompts, searches, and navigation are used to improve accuracy and caller satisfaction.

Their latest advancement is a web browser-based telephone agent interface that can transform a personal computer into a professional telephone agent station.

Web agent is accessible through a web-browser so remote agents can work from anywhere with an internet connection. A VPN connection is established to ensure the connection is secure. Updates are completed via a web server, which eliminates the maintenance of loading and maintaining software on devices.

Reliable and Encrypted Messaging Solution

The use of secure messaging apps and integrated personal devices has become even more important in our increasingly remote, work-from-home world.

While it’s a requirement to utilize a secure messaging solution in the healthcare industry, it’s not just for healthcare alone. It applies to any industry that deals with sensitive information, such as law, government, banking, mortgage lenders, credit card processors, and financial services, where it’s just as important to ensure the security of sensitive information.

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages application offers reliable communications with end-to-end encryption for communications. Various integrations are available to help streamline and simplify an organization’s communications needs. A highlight of some of the new features now available in miSecureMessages include:

  • The high availability solution provides continuous uptime during some server upgrades and prevent downtime due to a single server failure.
  • Single sign-on authentication with integration for SAML (security assertion markup language) or AFDS (active directory federation services).
  • Genesis protected dialing settings which enable phone calls placed from the miSecureMessages app to be routed through Genesis, which displays the organization’s phone number instead of the device’s phone number.
  • Shared devices enables different users to log into a device and retrieve messages without having to share logins or an inbox.

The Future is Bright (and Green) for Amtelco

As Amtelco grows they remain committed to developing innovative technology solutions to streamline communications and increase efficiency for their clients. New web and mobile solutions and artificial intelligence (AI) features are just a few items currently in development.

They are also excited to announce they’ve recently gone green by having solar panels installed at their office, which are estimated to offset their energy consumption by 59 percent.

AI is Transforming Contact Centers


By Donna Fluss

Artificial intelligence (AI) is awe-inspiring. While these technologies are in their early days, they have already demonstrated their ability to function as a change agent in contact centers, customer service departments, customer experience (CX) functions and sales organizations.

Artificial intelligence, particularly when combined with automation and analytics, has the potential to fuel the generational leap necessary to transform today’s service and sales organizations. It can turn them into intelligent and engaging departments that anticipate customer needs and deliver a consistently outstanding experience customized to address each customer’s inquiry and personality.

AI Drives Contact Center Innovation

Artificial intelligence is underlying and driving most of the innovation in contact center systems and applications, which is necessary to help organizations provide a service experience that meets today’s exacting customer expectations. It is also vital to provide agents with the intelligent tools and automation to empower them to become customer advocates, enriching their jobs and helping to engage and retain them. It is playing a pivotal role in elevating the perception of the contact center to essential corporate contributor, as well.

AI Use Cases

While AI fuels one’s imagination with visions of computers taking over the world, when it comes to service, sales, and the CX, consumers are already happy to interact with intelligent self-service solutions that can handle most of their requests yet have the sensitivity to know when to transfer them to a live agent.

Contact center leaders appreciate AI’s ability to match customer personality and communication styles to the best-suited agent. Artificial intelligence is enabling companies to give agents the scheduling flexibility they demand, and, while enhancing employee engagement, it’s also improving companies’ ability to deliver the service experience their customers expect, one application at a time.

Final Thoughts

The addition of AI technology in contact center systems and applications gives companies an opportunity to re-invent their mission-critical service organizations. AI can alter the dynamics of contact centers by automating many of the low-value activities historically performed by agents. And even when AI cannot fully automate a task, it can provide guidance or perform a portion of the activity, which will improve agent satisfaction, decrease handling time, and enhance the CX.

Although AI technology is in its early days, it has already demonstrated its ability to improve productivity and reduce costs in contact centers while delivering benefits to customers and employees alike.

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

For a detailed analysis of the role of AI in contact centers, its maturity and specific uses by application, see DMG’s new report on the State of Artificial Intelligence in Contact Centers, released January 2022.  

Veterans: An Untapped Pool with Rich Skill Set

Countering the Great Resignation with Niche Recruiting

In January, nearly 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), and employers everywhere are questioning where they are going to find a workforce during this phenomenon called the “Great Resignation.” CEO and founder of Pearl Interactive Network, an innovative niche contact center business process organization (BPO), Merry Korn, says the answer is in niche recruiting.

“There are pockets of niche referral sources with a robust volume of strong candidates who are eager to work hard,” she offers. With the colossal shift of remote positions becoming a permanent staple for many companies, one area of niche recruiting that could soften the impact of this workforce shortage and keep call center operations on target is veterans.

“At Pearl, we find that veterans bring many strengths to the workplace,” states VP of business development, Jean Murphy. Veterans possess a strong work ethic and take pride in the challenges and satisfaction of a job well done; they carry a sense of duty and are organized and disciplined. Many veterans have learned what it means to put in a hard day’s work and can follow through on assignments, even under difficult or stressful circumstances.

Much of this attitude translates to their participation in the civilian workforce, making veterans an asset to employers. With large numbers of individuals transitioning and seeking employment each year, this is a prime, untapped pool of candidates with a rich skill set (Department of Veteran Affairs. (2012). “Why veterans Make Good Employees.” Washington, DC; Veterans Employment Toolkit Handout.).

Each year, approximately 250,000 veterans are transitioning from military to civilian life (US Department of Veterans). Sixty-six percent of veterans report that it is difficult to find work after separating from the military. Part of the challenge lies in successfully translating military jargon into private-sector employment keywords.

Seventy-nine percent of veterans report difficulty conveying their military skills into the civilian sector. Likewise, 72 percent of hiring managers say it is difficult to see the connection between military and civilian skills.

“Some occupations like doctor and lawyer are exactly the same in and out of the service,” says John Bohichik, transition services manager at the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, according to Military.com. However, “‘Platoon leader’ should probably be translated as something like ‘general manager,’” says Anne McKinney, author of Resumes and Cover Letters that Have Worked for Military Professionals.

In addition to translating job titles, a candidate’s resume should describe—in civilian terms—the candidate’s skills, responsibilities, and accomplishments.

Veterans seeking to transition to customer service roles could easily show their transferable skills in leadership, effective communication, adaptability, and attention to detail.

For example, with customer service interactions, agents use effective communication skills and attention to detail to build a personal connection with the caller, and to create satisfactory resolution. Veterans are mission focused; they excel at following established processes and strive to achieve the mission goal with a more than satisfactory outcome making them ideal employees.

Employers are looking for employees with the potential for leadership and have a desire to learn and grow. Veterans easily check those boxes. By the end of their first year in the service, most are cross trained in multiple skills and have gained core skills like working well under pressure, attention to detail, problem solving and teamwork.

Not all employers are keen on translating these skills or know how to attract these applicants in the first place. This creates an untapped pool of applicants primed to succeed in the private sector and a savvy strategy for companies.

Of the approximately twelve million veterans in the United States, nearly 30 percent report having a disability and 13 percent report a service-connected disability. Both physical disabilities such as amputation, scars, and disfigurement, along with the stigma of potential psychological disorders make it more difficult for veterans to find employment.

Coupled with the lack of access to transportation for individuals with disabilities, veterans with disabilities face yet another significant obstacle to employment. “Transportation may seem to be the least of their worries, but it is the lynchpin that connects disparate parts of daily living,” says Rutger’s researcher at the Bloustein School’s Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, Andrea Lubin. “Access to transportation must therefore be considered in any reintegration efforts.”

With the colossal shift of remote positions becoming a permanent staple for many companies, work-from-home jobs are an ideal pairing for both veterans and other individuals with disabilities and transportation barriers.

The reward for a concerted effort to target niche veteran candidates is a dedicated, loyal workforce. “The key to niche hiring success is for employers to create a work environment that embraces diversity and creates a culture of inclusiveness,” adds Merry Korn.

Pearl is known for delivering high-touch, white-glove customer service experiences, concentrating on the delivery of calls that require a complex resolution while developing a personal emotional connection between the agent and caller.

Korn adds, “Pearl’s culture of caring is at the core of everything we do and transforming the lives of those we serve is our driving force.”

Founded in 2004, Pearl takes great pride in their hiring preferences for veterans, including those with disabilities for remote positions across the nation, with employees in twenty-seven states. It is good for our business and our social mission.

Call Center Work-at-Home Opportunities

The Benefits of Home-Based Telephone Agents

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In the past few years, we’ve seen an unprecedented move to pursue work-at-home opportunities in call centers. Granted, a few operations were already there. And some outright reject home-based staff as an option. But others have embraced a distributed workforce as a new way of doing business. And most operations have moved in that direction, albeit with varying degrees of interest and success.

Work-at-home opportunities apply to all employees, both agents and non-agent roles. At the risk of reviewing what you already know, here are some reasons why you should consider tapping home-based employees.

Retain Existing Staff

Providing employees with the option to work from home may mean the difference between keeping a great employee and losing them to another company—even a competitor—who offers that option.

Sometimes an employee’s situation changes, and they can’t—or no longer feel comfortable—coming into your office to work. But you can keep them as an employee if you offer them work-at-home opportunities.

Attract New Staff

When you’re looking to hire staff, having work-at-home opportunities for them to consider may mean the difference between you hiring a new employee and losing a great prospect. Don’t miss out on an otherwise-qualified candidate because you don’t allow for them to one day work from home once they’ve proven themselves.

Expand Labor Market

Every call center, it seems, struggles to find qualified employees. Though most prefer to pursue hiring from the labor market where the call center is located, this severely limits your prospects. By offering work-at-home opportunities, you can expand your labor pool to cover anyone, in any area, who has stable internet service.

New Agent Solutions

There are also a couple of new work-at-home opportunities that present themselves once you remove the restrictions of working from a centralized office. Though these aren’t impossible outcomes to realize with your in-house staff, they’re much more realistic to achieve from a home-based workforce. These are split shifts and on-demand work.

Split Shifts: Split shifts occur when an employee doesn’t work in one continuous block of time, but in two or even three smaller blocks. This can be ideal in meeting scheduling forecasts.

This depends on the specific needs of your call center and what your traffic looks like, but it could include working at the beginning of the business day and again toward the end. Or it may be taking calls for a few hours midmorning and a few more hours midafternoon.

It’s a lot to expect someone to travel to a call center to only work a few hours, leave, and then come back for a few more. But it’s much more realistic when someone’s already at home, can quickly login, work, and then log back out.

On Demand Work: Split shifts also point to another solution, which is on-demand work. This is effectively having someone on standby for when your call center gets busy. If they’re already at home and have a flexible schedule, they may be more than willing to log in and take calls to handle an unexpected traffic burst and then log back out when things return to normal.

Just make sure to treat your on-demand employees fairly. In exchange for their flexibility, pay then a higher hourly rate for on-demand work. It also means only contacting them when you really need them and promising them a minimum amount of pay when you do, such as for at least one hour. What you want to avoid is having someone take calls for only a few minutes at a time, multiple times throughout the day. This will lead to frustrated staff and burn out.

Conclusion

Work-at-home opportunities abound. Make sure to make the most of them to best staff your call center, maintain a qualified workforce, and serve your callers.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

12 Metrics You Need to Know to Hit Your Sales Goals

By A.J. Windle

What’s the correlation between hitting your sales goals and leprechauns? Well, since it’s March, let me tell you how.

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and do you know what that means? Leprechauns, rainbows, and giant pots of gold. But the challenging part is finding the gold. First, you must find the rainbow and get to the end before it disappears. But how do you get to the rainbow before that happens?

With clear goals, a plan, and discipline, you will find that pot of gold, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Closing sales deals is like the journey to finding your pot of gold—a lot of challenges, obstacles, and some tough leprechauns . . . I mean prospects, along the way.

Find your pot of gold by setting and hitting your sales goals. Here are twelve metrics that support hitting your sales goals you should consider.

1. Outreach Attempts and Interactions per Day: The more outreach attempts, the more potential opportunities. Salespeople don’t love prospecting, but if you don’t search for that pot of gold, you’ll never find it.

2. Contacts per Day: This metric will help you understand how the interaction attempts contribute to your ability to speak with people.

3. Opportunities Created: Do you know how many conversations are becoming real opportunities with prospects? A small number of opportunities can mean many things. You or your sales leader can help determine what is and isn’t working by analyzing sales metrics. For example:

  • Are you or your sales team communicating clearly?
  • What’s the method used to determine a qualified lead?
  • Can you identify a training opportunity based on knowledge or skill gaps?

4. Proposals: Proposals are the next step of opportunities. Are you sending a proposal for every opportunity? If not, why? Watch how the increased number of opportunities translates to sending a proposal. Please pay close attention to what your proposals include and where they fit in the sales process.

5. Conversion Percentage: Conversion focuses on the ability to close meaningful deals. Setting goals for converting proposals is sales 101.

6. Average Order Value or Size: This is a great goal to set. Consider minimum average order values to ensure your company can perform the work with an elevated level of quality and be profitable.

7. Cost per Sale: Work with your clients to understand their cost per sale goal and make that transparent to the rest of the team. This metric is a great lag indicator and will help you dive into your lead goals should you struggle to meet your objective.

8. Length of Sales Cycle: Time is money, and while you should always take the time to make sure you are solving your customers’ problems and developing a great solution, you should make every effort to close quickly.

9. Retention Percentage: It’s harder and more expensive to get new customers, so take care of the ones you have. Set a goal for retaining your existing book of business.

10. Increase the Lifetime Value: It’s less expensive to sell additional services to your existing clients than to find new ones. Uncover their pain points. And if you have a solution, offer it.

11. New Sales Revenue: Every salesperson should know how much new business they’re responsible for bringing in. Setting new business sales goals is a fundamental metric to set and work toward achieving.

12. Profit Margins: Set a minimum margin goal and make sure you know how to price products and services accordingly. Based on the changing economic climate, you should continually evaluate the minimum margin goal.

Conclusion: All of you ambitious sales executives and sales leaders, it’s time to set new sales goals using the metrics we covered to measure your path or your teams’ path to find the pots of gold at the end of your rainbows.   Then focus on hitting your sales goals.

A.J. Windle is the director of client engagement at Quality Contact Solutions. He is responsible for ensuring innovation and key initiatives are accomplished for each QCS client on an ongoing basis. A.J.’s background in call center management includes training and operations. Reach A.J. aj.windle@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5106.

Appointment Setting Versus Lead Generation


By Shaun Thompson

Appointment setting and lead generation are both strategic business options that most companies employ to accelerate their sales, but they’re often commonly misunderstood. The question is, what sets these two apart?

Generating Leads with Lead Generation

B2B sales lead generation starts your sales process. It’s the initial step towards making a sale that involves sparking consumer interest and swaying them to be open to consider your products or services. Concisely, lead generation is all about captivating consumers’ interests, especially those within your target market and industry.

Outbound sales lead generation is also about generating leads. Lead generation has three types of leads: nurturing leads, qualified leads, and unqualified leads.

  • Nurturing leads refer to customers who’ve shown interest in your products and services but aren’t ready to make a purchase. Nourish customers who fall under this aspect by staying connected with consistent follow-ups and providing product information until they are ready to make a purchase.
  • Qualified leads are ideal. These are the types of leads that belong to your target market, are interested in your products and services, and are ready to purchase at any moment.
  • Unqualified leads are those who are not interested at all in your products or services, and they don’t belong in the spectrum of your target audience.

The primary goal of lead generation is to generate and keep your sales pipeline filled with qualified leads. A good flow of leads in your pipeline creates a chance of boosting sales.

Leads may come from various sources such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and digital ads. But one of the leading practices in conducting effective lead generation is telemarketing. B2B telemarketing lead generation is discovering leads through cold calling. Marketing executives reach out directly to prospects to stir and capture their interests.

Telemarketing lead generation has several benefits.

  • A Proven and Tested Method: Some say cold calling is dead. Yet research shows that telemarketing is still an effective medium in lead generation. In a study by Rain Group, 57 precent of C-level executives say that they value information provided by marketing executives over the phone.
  • Helps You Better Align with Leads: Since telemarketing is direct in terms of approach, it’s easier to understand your prospects. Hence, you’ll have a better idea of how best to capture and nourish their interests.
  • Targets Your Ideal Market: Telemarketing lead generation is a personal approach. It can ensure that your appointment setters target your ideal audience, unlike other strategies that use scattergun approaches.

Securing Meetings Through B2B Appointment Setting

Appointment setting comes after lead generation. B2B appointment setting refers to the act of calling qualified leads, specifically key decision-makers, to schedule appointments with them. Appointment setting, in general, picks up the generated leads from the lead generation process for possible appointments. More appointments booked translate to more sales.

As much as lead generation is an essential aspect of the sales process, appointment setting also plays a vital role. Appointment setting opens the door for sales opportunities through scheduled meetings where sales teams can conduct their sales pitches to sway and convince key decision-makers to make a purchase.

While it may look easy to schedule appointments, appointment setting is tedious work. It needs a certain level of trust, rapport, and consistency.

Telemarketing appointment setting also has benefits.

  • Measurable Results: Unlike other sales approaches, appointment setting is immediate. Therefore, it’s easier to measure if your number of scheduled appointments is increasing.
  • Marketing Pipeline: An appointment setting requires a high volume of calls to create higher chances of scheduling appointments. Those calls are also marketing opportunities that can help increase brand awareness and get your brand recognized and noticed in the market.
  • Relationship Building: Appointment setting builds on human connection. The presence of the human element makes relationship-building easier, which later helps in influencing buying decisions. A good relationship level also contributes to building trust, which is a key factor during negotiations and in obtaining referrals.

Lead Generation Versus Appointment Setting

Appointment setting lead generation works together and is an essential strategy employed in your sales and marketing mix. Nourish and generate qualified leads through lead generation. Meanwhile, translate these leads into appointments through appointment setting. Lead generation can occur without an appointment setting campaign. However, it’s best if these two work alongside each other to maximize results and accelerate sales.

Executing appointment setting lead generation campaigns is vital in achieving your sales target. To manage these two campaigns effectively requires experience and expertise.

While you can execute these in-house, partnering with appointment setting lead generation companies is an option, especially if you’re looking to generate fast results and achieve your goals promptly. Why? These companies can help you create strategies aligned with your business. They also have a well-trained staff, necessary technology, and experience to help you get the results you seek.

Shaun Thompson is a director of Telemarketing Professionals, an organization of leading industry specialists in marketing within the lead generation and appointment setting space. Learn more about appointment setting lead generation and other telemarketing services at telemarketingprofessionals.com.au.

Why Customers Want an Omnichannel Experience

By Megan Hottman

We all know that providing an excellent customer experience is vital for business success. Customers expect interactions with your company to be fluid and singular, referred to as an omnichannel experience. 

HubSpot defines omnichannel as a lead nurturing and user engagement approach in which a company gives access to its products, offers, and support services to customers or prospects on all channels, platforms, and devices. Omnichannel starts with being present everywhere your customers are so that they have no trouble interacting with you through a convenient means. 

Why Is an Omnichannel Experience Important to Your Customers?

The point of an omnichannel strategy is to provide customers with seamless interactions across all channels, which will make them feel like there’s no disconnection when interacting with your brand—no matter where or how they reach out.

I remember this past summer when I was buying a ticket from an airline. My preference is to purchase tickets online, which I usually do. However, for some unknown reason to this day, their “system” would not allow me to apply a previous unused credit towards the cost of the new ticket. I’ve used credits on my own before without incident.

I immediately clicked around to find their online chat function, only to discover that it was out of commission, along with their email option. Frustrating.

As a result, I had to call the airline. After holding for 3 hours and 52 minutes (yes, that’s right, holding because their call back function was inoperable at this time), an agent finally answered my call. 

No one has that kind of time to spend waiting on hold. The ability to engage with the airline in the way I preferred and expected to, wasn’t available. We’ve all been there. We’ve all had the same experience. Think of your customers’ experience with your brand. 

Omnichannel Experience Provides Choices and Drives Loyalty

Customers should be able to engage with a business through their preferred channel and when they want. Providing options like text, in-app chat, email, phone, live chat, or social media enables customers to access whatever they want or need whenever they want or need it. Let customers choose how they’d prefer to engage. Give them options. 

A fluid experience gives customers a deeper connection with the brandboosting customer loyalty. But, of course, everyone knows that keeping existing customers is always easier and less expensive than attracting new customers.

Increase Customer Satisfaction and Builds Relationships

An omnichannel experience targets making consumers’ lives easier from start to finish, ironing out any friction they may face while engaging with a brand.

Providing a quality experience is vital and can make or break customer relationships. All it takes is one terrible experience or a few small repeat bad interactions for a customer to stop using your services or buying your products. 

Omnichannel communication strategies ensure a consistent experience that helps customers understand what to expect with your brand. As a result, customer satisfaction increases as they come to know the quality of service your brand delivers.

It’s Convenient

Consumers want convenience, and many companies have found ways to meet their wants by providing an omnichannel experience.

We can order coffee on an app and pick it up in person, skipping any potential lines. Consumers can do the same with groceries, clothes, and more. These examples illustrate the convenience an omnichannel experience provides today.

An omnichannel experience can be the secret sauce to earning your customer’s loyalty, whether a start-up or a market leader. 

Give Your Customers an Omnichannel Experience

A fluid omnichannel experience is critical to satisfying customers, driving loyalty, and building long-term relationships. Customers want their experience to be seamless, convenient, and personalized, and they’re willing to go out of their way to find it.

Megan Hottmanis the copywriter and editor for Quality Contact Solutions. Megan’s experience includes working as an outbound telemarketing manager for a Fortune 100 company for many years. Megan has been both a client and an employee of QCS, so she knows first-hand the quality, productivity, and passion the team brings to work each day. Reach Megan at megan@qualitycontactsolutions.com or 516-656-5120.

The Next Act for Contact Center Transformation

By Donna Fluss

The contact center world is in the early days of a true metamorphosis, one that is going to impact all aspects of these service departments: people, process, and technology. Driven by elevated customer and employee expectations, technical innovation, artificial intelligence (AI), increasing globalization and scale, operational opportunities, and the cloud, contact center executives are rethinking their strategies and reimagining the future of these essential customer-facing departments. 

DMG expects contact centers to undergo wholesale changes that position them to deliver a proactive and personalized service experience to an increasingly demanding customer base. Contact centers need to undergo the following transformations to position themselves to enhance the brand they represent:

From Cost Center to Profit Center

Sales and collections departments are profit centers, as their primary function is revenue generation. Customer service departments, even if they do not perform up-sell and cross-sell, should also be viewed as profit centers, as an essential aspect of their job is to build strong and “sticky” customer relationships. 

From Phone Center to Omni-Channel Contact Center

While a surprisingly substantial number of contact centers continue to support only voice interactions (which means they are still call centers), the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital channels (minimally, email and chat). Unfortunately, too many contact centers added new channels without integrating them with each other or the existing voice-based activities. 

This means each channel is independent, so an agent that helps a customer in one channel cannot see what happened in another, obscuring the visibility into the customer journey and overall brand relationship. This approach makes it difficult for customers who want to use their preferred channel and pivot easily from one channel to another, if necessary (such as if they need to escalate to a live agent). It also makes it difficult, time consuming and costly for agents who must ask customers to repeat their entire story. 

Contact centers should be fully integrated omni-channel (voice and digital) servicing environments, where agents have a single desktop and customer relationship management (CRM) system to handle all inquiries and can pivot between channels as often as needed.

From the Title of Agent to Influencer or Customer Relationship Advocate

Agents perform an essential and often challenging function for their brand – they are the primary representatives of their company to the market. It’s a challenging job as customers are not always kind, and agents may not have access to all the information they need due to system or operational limitations. 

Companies need to approach every contact as a gift when a customer or prospect reaches out to them. The customer-facing resources in contact centers need intelligent automation and tools to deliver an outstanding and personalized experience to every individual in every interaction, and they deserve a title that better reflects their importance and contribution to the brand. 

From Blame Point to Chief Customer Officer: Contact centers clean up mistakes and problems originating upstream and downstream in companies. Because they must resolve a wide variety of issues, contact center employees know more about a company than the staff in almost any other department. 

An outstanding contact center leader will spend a sizable portion of their day working with other departments to address issues identified by customers or contact center analytics. As a result, these leaders know a great deal about what customers think about the company and what it will take to enhance their perception of the brand. 

For these reasons, a contact center leader is an ideal position to become a chief customer officer in their company.

From Basic Systems to AI-Enabled Applications

Many contact centers are still using outdated servicing and CRM systems and applications as their primary information sources. Instead, contact center influencers need AI-enabled solutions that give them a view into each customer’s issue or predict the customer’s intention in contacting their brand. 

These solutions should proactively deliver all relevant data and next-best-action recommendations to resolve the current situation and influence the customer in a positive manner to enhance the relationship.

Final Thoughts

Contact centers have operated in similar ways for most of the forty-five plus years they have been in existence. It’s well past time for change and transformation. Companies must make enhancements and investments, as a starting point, or find themselves with unhappy (and fewer) customers and challenged to find good candidates to staff their contact centers. 

While the required changes are significant and costly, they will position companies to fulfill their promise of delivering an outstanding customer experience, something most companies struggle to achieve today. 

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting LLC. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary, author, and speaker, Donna drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the services industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.