Three Tips for Handling a Challenging Customer Call

Coffee spilled on desk and shirt
It's a Monday morning. Traffic is at a standstill on the interstate, and you just spilled burning hot coffee down your shirt. We're willing to bet that you probably aren't the only one who is having less than an ideal morning. Customers contacting your call center most likely aren't calling to thank you for your job well done. They have quotas to meet, and they're probably trying to contact you about an issue or concern. Their mornings might have been even worse than yours.

Answering these calls can seem like something straight out of a nightmare, but satisfying unhappy customers is an integral part of your job. In fact, 89 percent of customers will no longer give their business to an organization after experiencing a subpar call, making your job crucial to the success of your company.

So how are you supposed to remain positive when someone is screaming in your ear or being passive aggressive? Below are three ways to overcome a difficult customer phone call.

Keep Your Cool


Inhale and exhale. Although matching the moods of people around you is an easy thing to do, you shouldn't mirror theirs. The customer probably isn't truly mad at you, but rather frustrated with the situation. By using a calm tone of voice and choosing your words wisely, the customer will soon realize you're only there to help. By the end of the call, they might even appreciate your help and develop a more positive outlook on the company as a whole.

One way management can be proactive in this is by implementing a solution that automatically scans calls for predefined keywords. With this tool, you can easily go through flagged calls and listen to each conversation, ensuring your reps handled the situation effectively.

Lend An Ear


Think about the last time you were frustrated or upset about something. Now imagine that as you're venting, the other person (who is ultimately the reason for your anger) keeps  interrupting with lackluster apologies and trying to combat everything you say. It's only making matters worse. That's how your customers feel when you cut them off in a conversation.

Pay close attention to your customers' needs and wants, regardless of their attitude toward you, and demonstrate that you understand their concerns. While it is important to respond to customers when they're upset, you should give them a chance to state all of their concerns before putting in your two cents. Listening intently will give you an abundance of time in which you can fine-tune a solution for the problem at hand. Worst case scenario: Their problem can't be fixed. Come up with a backup plan for a situation like this or simply explain the reason to them honestly and in detail.

Switch Things Up


After maintaining your composure and empathizing with callers' needs, your heated customers should be much more levelheaded. But what happens if they aren't? If the customer continues to act upset after you've followed these steps, alert someone from your team to the problem and see if they can defuse the situation. Allowing an angry customer to speak to management or even just switching agents will usually help to solve the problem because it reiterates that the company is doing everything they can to find a solution to the customer's problem.

Getting a call from an angry or upset customer is inevitably going to happen within your company. Follow these steps to help calm an upset customer and show them you are actively working to find a solution to their problem. What tips do you have for handling a challenging call? Let us know in the comments.

Don't Let Lost Leads Haunt You This Halloween

Spooky Halloween hands
The most frightening time of the year is upon us as miniature witches, ghosts, goblins and Captain Americas march up and down the streets demanding free candy. You guessed it — Halloween! Although Halloween has turned into a lighthearted holiday involving pumpkin carving, Disney movies and an excuse to wear funny costumes, it once created a frightening chill in the air, causing even adults to feel a hint of anxiousness.

These days, that anxious feeling is rampant across businesses. A startling 79 percent of marketing leads never convert into sales. Spooky, right? While that chilling realization can make even the best companies get goosebumps, below are a couple ideas that can steer your marketing efforts in the right direction.

Track-or-Treat


Every year, suburban families plot out the best routes for their Halloween trips around a conveniently located cul-de-sac. One ingenious person even rolled out an app called Nextdoor, which safely allows neighbors to identify who is passing out candy. Tracking Halloween routes can save families valuable time avoiding blocked traffic routes and lost candy opportunities.

If we get that into planning Halloween, why don't we plan out our marketing that well? Inbound call tracking can help you collect demographic information about your callers, learn what regions are your biggest markets and identify which of your marketing campaigns are working. If that doesn't help you map out the best route for your marketing, we don't know what will.

Make Navigating Creepily Intuitive


With over 41 million children going through neighborhoods on Halloween, you have to make your house stand out to draw in more trick-or-treaters. What sets your house apart from your neighbors' houses? Did you buy the jumbo pack of candy that all the kids love, or does your house have a Halloween inflatable that the entire neighborhood is raving about?

Setting your house apart on Halloween is one thing — setting apart your business on a daily basis is a whole different beast. The decision simplicity index is a gauge of how easily customers can access information about a specific business, which is one of the main ways to differentiate your brand.

How can you improve ease of access? Have family members or friends look at your website to see how easily they could find information as if they were customers. Offline, consider implementing intelligent routing options so callers can get straight to the department they're looking for. You can also implement mnemonic or repetitive telephone numbers that are easier for customers to remember and connect to.

To keep your customers and your sales team from going batty with frustration, consider utilizing these tools. Do you use any other tactics to convert leads? Let us know in the comments!

How to Get Your Business Through a Social Media Crisis

Angry social media user
So you made a mistake on social media. Maybe it was your fault — a funny typo went viral or a well-intentioned post got some negative attention. Maybe it wasn't — somebody guessed the password and made some very embarrassing posts. Either way, you're in damage-control mode now.

Warren Buffett is credited with saying, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." The explosion of social media has turned that five minutes into five seconds, since every mistake, regardless of if it's made on social media or in traditional advertising, is quickly broadcast to the world. How you react to a social media crisis will dictate whether it takes a week or a year to rebuild your reputation.

If you're trying to recover from a marketing faux pas or simply want to be prepared for the inevitable, here are some tips for getting your company through a crisis.

Have a Plan


You are never as insulated from internet infamy as you think you are. Even when you have eight people reviewing every piece of content or social media post, a simple mistake can still get through and quickly go viral. A marketing campaign that seemed like a good idea at first can still get a poor public reaction as well. That's why it's important to have a plan for potential negative backlash.

Many businesses are quick to delete posts or pull ads and quietly hope the furor all goes away over time. No matter what goes into your crisis plan, be sure you include a public statement or apology acknowledging the mistake. After that, your strategy needs to cover what you're going to do moving forward. How long will you wait before resuming your normal social media campaigns? Will you respond to negative comments directly? What will you say? Being prepared and reacting quickly can help mitigate any long-term damage.

Highlight Your Loyal Customers


Bouncing back and rebuilding your reputation after a marketing mistake is the hardest part of the process. Social media makes it easy for people to chime in about your business, especially if you've made a mistake that earns the internet's ire.

However, it's also in times like these that you might find some of your most loyal customers are willing to defend a product or service they love. Highlight these loyal customers by liking and sharing their comments. Word of mouth will always be one of the strongest forms of marketing, and using it to your advantage will help you emerge from a crisis.

Newsjack With Caution


Newsjacking to generate exposure for your brand can be a great marketing and social media tactic. However, you should never capitalize on a tragedy. If you want to acknowledge a somber event, do so tastefully and avoid putting your logo on any image or tying your comments to a product or service you offer.

Also remember that timing is everything. There's no faster way to be dragged through the mud by social media users than to have a prescheduled marketing post go out in the midst of a catastrophe. Be aware of what's going on in the world so you're not promoting a special sale or even a product launch at a sensitive time.

The internet has made it easy for word about your mistakes to get around quickly. Have you survived a social media crisis? What was your strategy for dealing with the problem? How did you prepare for any future mistakes? Let us know in the comments.

Are You Sticking to Your New Year's Resolutions?

Joggers on treadmills at a gym
More than a month has passed since 2017 began, and we're guessing the crowds at your gym have started to thin out. These days you can probably spend more time on the treadmill than you spent waiting to use one in January.

A new year is a great opportunity to start over and make improvements, and New Year's resolutions can help you take the first step. However, sticking with those resolutions — especially if you aim to lose weight — can get more difficult with every passing week. Committing to big changes to your company's marketing and customer service can feel much the same way.

The good news is it's never too late to recommit to resolutions for your business, or even start new ones. Here are some resolutions you can still pursue or continue to improve on in 2017.

Be More Social


In 2016, everybody and their dog had social media. (We're serious about the dogs.) The percentage of Americans on social media has grown every year since the beginning, reaching 78 percent last year. Social media adoption among small- and medium-sized businesses has been just as rapid, but many still struggle with how best to use their accounts.

The important thing to know about a business social media page is it's not about leads. Social media is widely regarded as a poor source for leads, meaning you should focus on fostering brand loyalty and building a community of enthusiastic followers. Just be sure you know the do's and don'ts of social media, or a silly post with good intentions could turn into an image disaster.

Answer Every Call


While social media accounts alone aren't great lead sources, social media advertising has played a role in the booming amount of phone calls to businesses being placed from smartphones. No matter what marketing approach you take in 2017, you need to be prepared for even more phone calls than in years past. Mass smartphone adoption has made it easy for customers to place calls on the fly.

When your competitor is a few finger taps away, it's more important than ever to make sure calls from your customers — whether they're sales opportunities or customer service issues — are answered and getting to the right people in your business. Fewer and fewer people are leaving voicemails, meaning it's critical for you to either answer every call or to at least capture incoming call information so somebody can follow up with a missed call promptly.

Cut the Excess


Losing weight is one of the top New Year's resolutions every year, which is why your gym was so crowded in January. Just as cutting excess weight can make you healthier, trimming marketing campaigns that aren't generating a healthy return on investment (ROI) can make your marketing investments more efficient.

But while we can just step on a scale to see if we're making progress with weight loss, measuring marketing ROI can be more challenging. Consider using a service that can link everything from phone calls and website clicks back to specific marketing campaigns or search terms. Knowing your lead sources will help you find campaigns that need to meet the same end as those extra holiday pounds.

You should always be seeking to improve your company, but the New Year is a good time to take a renewed focus. What are some resolutions you targeted for your company's marketing in 2017? Have you stuck with them so far? Let us know in the comments.

Bringing Balance to Your Marketing: Loyalty vs. Acquisition

Scale with money
In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, it was believed that Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One destined to bring balance to the two sides of the Force. When it comes to your marketing, are you balancing your existing customers with your quest for new customers?

More than 10 years after the Star Wars prequel trilogy concluded with (spoiler alert!) Anakin becoming Darth Vader, people still debate about what "bring balance to the Force" actually means and whether Anakin/Vader fulfilled the prophecy or not. The debate over whether customer loyalty or customer acquisition is more important has been just as cloudy, leaving business owners wondering how to balance the two — or if they should be balanced at all.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each side of this marketing debate and how we can bring balance to the brand.

Customer Loyalty


Pro: The 80/20 rule has been around for more than 100 years and has been used to claim that 80 percent of a company's sales come from 20 percent of its customers. The rule is the cornerstone for many customer loyalty programs that are designed to make sure the customers who purchase the most continue doing so. If your most loyal customers are a crucial part of your revenue stream, why wouldn't you offer them incentives and make them feel valued?

Con: When you're planning on launching a loyalty program, be sure you know the associated costs and if the potential revenue is worth the investment. Does an expensive app that occasionally gives away a free product, prize or discount lead to more revenue? Depending on your industry, loyalty might not mean what you think it does.

Byron Sharp's book "How Brands Grow" was released in 2005 and used data to dispel some of the notions businesses have long had about customer loyalty. More recently he said, "We are loyal switchers. We don't feel disloyal to Kellogg's if we buy another cereal." Basically, don't put all of your cereal in one bowl when it comes to who you're targeting — because they won't always purchase from you.

Customer Acquisition


Pro: While loyal customers might be the cornerstone of your business, you can't make your building bigger without adding more bricks. New customers are still a critical revenue stream whether they end up being hyper-loyal or not. You didn't get that loyal 20 percent without acquiring new customers to begin with. Plus, new customers are needed to sustain growth.

Con: Acquiring new customers is expensive compared to retaining existing customers. Because you've already earned their trust, existing customers are much more likely to buy from you, reducing marketing expenses in the process. According to the book "Marketing Metrics," the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent. That means you'll probably see less return on your marketing campaigns targeted at new customers.

Finding Balance


Maintaining loyal customers is important, but as you can see, balancing who you target can be a critical part of growing your business. While conventional thinking and research indicates that there's more revenue to be gained from loyal customers, you simply can't ignore future revenue streams, and loyalty programs can be expensive. Loyalty can also be fickle even with incentives.

To find the balance that works for your marketing, be sure you know where your revenue is coming from. Track incoming calls and web traffic from your various campaigns and sort them based on whether you were targeting existing or new customers. Once you know the value of each and every conversion, you can better balance your efforts.

Have you brought balance to your marketing? Have you lost loyal customers at the expense of discounts and deals offered to new customers? Let us know in the comments.

[INFOGRAPHIC] A Journey Through the World of Visual Content

Have you ventured into the visual marketing world? If not, check out this infographic from Marketo to see what type of visual content would be best for your marketing.

Journey Through the World of Visual Content [Infographic]

What Does Your Favorite Vacation Say About Your Marketing Style?

As the summer heat intensifies, so do our vacation fantasies. However, it seems the “perfect vacation” varies from person to person;  some people love the beach, while others prefer a hike in the mountains. 

Crystal blue seaThis got us thinking about how some vacation choices actually resemble some common marketing strategies. What does your perfect vacation say about your marketing strategy? 


An Adventure on a Budget


If you love an affordable, adrenaline-filled vacation like visiting Teton Range in Wyoming or the Sierra Nevada in California, you’re an adaptable risk taker. You use your vacation as an opportunity to seek beautiful views, chase an adrenaline rush or find a waterfall at the end of a tough climb. Every decision on your trip is focused on accomplishing something unforgettable.

These tendencies match what is used in the marketing strategy known as growth hacking. Growth hacking requires making informed but risky decisions based on marketing research. Like choosing to enjoy a hiking trail rather than spend a big chunk of change at a resort, growth hacking uses low-cost alternatives to traditional media to achieve growth. Its creative affordability makes it a popular method among startups with tight marketing budgets.


Traditional With a Personal Touch 


If a mountain trek doesn’t pique (or shall we say "peak"?) your interest, perhaps you’re among the many loyal fans of Disney World Resort. Despite being a common (and insanely crowded) choice, Disney World makes you feel like you’re personally cared for by offering exceptional service, personalized name badges and trip suggestions based on your family’s preferences. The relationship Disney World builds with its customers is a lead reason for the 70 percent return rate of first-time Disney visitors.

Similar to the personal touches Disney World presents, networking events give your business the opportunity to form lasting relationships with customers. Industry trade shows attract your target market and allow your business to meet with potential customers face to face. These events are an opportunity to identify market trends and gain knowledge of competitors in the market.

A Little Bit of Everything


For the family who needs a versatile vacation that can satisfy the adventure seekers as well as those desiring personalized treatment, a cruise is the usual choice. Cruises have the ability to adapt to the needs of the guests by offering various excursions that appeal to different tastes, like shopping in a local village or rappelling into a cave. The integrated benefits of a cruise make it the perfect vacation for a family that wants it all.

If you appreciate the adaptability of a cruise, you may prefer an integrated marketing strategy as well. You can integrate several techniques such as growth hacking, networking events and search engine optimization so your company will appeal to its target market in a variety of ways. Leveraging the advantages of various marketing strategies also enhances your inbound marketing, attracting customers with meaningful website content and personal relationships. 

Whether or not a cruise suits your fancy, an integrated marketing strategy that uses several strong methods to deliver a well-rounded marketing approach can generate qualified leads and strengthen customer relationships.

Which vacation style matches your marketing approach? Let us know by commenting below!