Phone Calls as Marketing & Branding Experiences
Consumers have a choice in how they communicate with your company; are you doing your best to manage perception and performance in every channel? Today, most businesses concentrate their resources on marketing channels including search, social, advertising, or a combination of all three. Marketing extends much further, however, influencing consumers' perceptions in-person as well as over the phone.
Optimizing Phone Calls for Conversion
Phone calls, just like search or social advertising, can become a critical part of the marketing funnel. For this reason treating every single phone call as an opportunity to contribute to the user experience and drive consumers toward the optimal goal of the business becomes essential. Consider a health services company that provides in-home therapy services nationwide. Arranging for home care is not a transaction that is going to be impulsively purchased online. Patients will browse the website of one or several providers and then act on the company's call to action ( perhaps calling a 'specialist') to answer their questions - which can at times be personal and private. The experience on that phone call will determine whether they will select that provider or move on to the next. What kind of experience would the patient have if they were kept on hold for an extended period of time, or worse, encountered a specialist that didn't know answers to important questions? A poor experience for the prospect, no doubt, and no conversion or sale for your business. Obviously, that's not going to work for a company focused on making the most of the resources they invest. Does this sound like an interaction that might happen at your company? If so, there's work to be done.
Making the Call Experience Better
Making the most of the marketing experience around phone calls is no easy task, requiring regular analysis and a commitment to improve from a sales and support perspective. Let's consider some opportunities for any enterprise to focus on when optimizing the marketing and branding experience when it comes to inbound phone calls.
- CAPTURE INFORMATION FROM THE START Most recipients of phone calls fail within the first few minutes of the phone call. Early on in the interaction, make a point to capture some general details about the caller and their reasoning for dialing in. Those companies that use call tracking systems integrated with customer relationship management systems have an advantage in that they can tag phone calls with data including name, location, and other details that may influence conversion.
- BUILD RAPPORT TO FORM RELATIONSHIPS Relationships can be tricky. While companies need to be professional, they also need to understand that they are dealing with people. That means always abiding by some core principles: always listen more than you speak (asking questions is a great way to do that,) use empathy, and reinforce that your company and its solution can resolve their issue or request.
- DEMONSTRATE AUTHORITY & EXPERTISE It's not enough to say it, you also have to prove that your company is both knowledgeable and capable. Make the effort to reassure callers by indicating that you serve customers in their area, that you received accreditation in some practice, or received acknowledgement from a reputable third-party company like the Better Business Bureau.
- MAKE THE SALE/CONVERSION While you never want to be overly aggressive, the phone call presents one of the best opportunities to actually make a sale. One of the ways that those really skilled at this is to offer incentives to create a sense of urgency. That might include discounts or freebies for booking or buying over the phone.
- CLOSE THE CALL Phone calls never last forever (unless you do an exceptional job during the relationship building phase!), so at some point you're going to need to close out the call. This is a great opportunity to leave users with the sense that they made the right decision making the call, to once again indicate you were the right choice and tie up any other loose ends. A quick recap of what the next steps are and a polite thank you are always appropriate ways to complete a customer interaction.
These are all important phases of the optimal phone call experience, but you won't exactly know how well you or your team is doing if you don't every audit or analyze performance. Success with call tracking when it comes to improving the marketing and branding experience for consumers requires clearly defined goals, an established call-handling process (like the one outlined above), a formal training program to ensure consistency of execution, and regular auditing to enforce the process. Phone calls are an experience; approach them like you would any other marketing opportunity and you'll more leads in the sales pipeline and more profit on the bottom line.
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