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An Old Dog Learns a New Trick: How to Drive Phone Leads from Your Web Site

This guest post is written by John Federman, the CEO of eStara, a leading click-to-call company.

Remember the golden age of e-commerce when the entire industry leaned almost exclusively on internet self-help tools to address their customer service? Finding a 1-800 on a Website was next to impossible. The problem with this singular reliance is simple: consumers shy away from large or complex online purchases if they are not 100% certain about their expenditure. One issue, however insignificant, can spook the potential customer, resulting in Website abandonment and great dissatisfaction.

Anyone reading the business trade pubs this past week has no doubt seen the news about Google and eBay partnering to offer click to call service to online merchants, thus opening the promise of online advertising to an audience who may have avoided it in the past due to the complexity of their transactions or lack of a web presence. This partnership signifies the growing need for online merchants to connect with potential buyers over the phone. However, click to call offers much more than just a connection between buyers and sellers. When used strategically, click to call can increase sales conversion, reduce site abandonment and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Google and eBay are not the first to discover the customer service benefits of offering potential buyers instant phone connection to an online merchant. Major companies like Sears and Jenny Craig have been using click to call solutions to provide better service and improve customer loyalty. Because it is IP-based, click to call has the potential to erase the usual customer frustration of having to start a transaction over when the they transition from the web to a phone conversation. And, it could help reduce the need for customers to wade through “IVR hell” to speak to the right agent.

Customer-oriented companies have found that by offering click to call rather than a static toll-free number, they can ensure a continuity of customer experience by transferring information about the customer and the context of their online session directly to the call center at the time of call initiation. With click to call, call center software can be configured to display this information directly on the agent’s desktop screen, or it can use the incoming data values to trigger lookups into the company’s own databases to retrieve related details (customer records, purchase history, billing information, etc.)

Some companies may be concerned about the added cost of taking calls rather than allowing customers to complete transactions online, but what if the customer has a question or just isn’t comfortable purchasing online? Wouldn’t it benefit companies to offer these kinds customers a chance to speak to a live agent and thus complete the transaction?

A recent study by Jupiter Research found that for high-value, complex transactions, most customers still prefer live voice interaction over other methods of contact, including e-mail, text chat and FAQs. Ironically, the future of customer service isn’t a fancy new technology; in fact, it’s one of the oldest tools in existence: the human voice.

The fact is that the kinds of products and services that can be found online are becoming more and more complex. We’re not just buying books on Amazon or EBay anymore; we’re buying TVs, Cars and Boats. For these kinds of interactions, consumers have traditionally shown that they’re more comfortable researching online and buying offline. Click to call service bridges that gap.

This guest post was written by John Federman of eStara, a leading provider of proactive conversion solutions for enhancing online sales. Mr. Federman’s worked with companies such as Amazon.com, Dell, Sears and Verizon to improve online customer service and sales. To learn more, visit http://www.estara.com or call 1-866-4ESTARA.

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Stop the Revolving Door of Employee Turnover

This is a guest post written by Robert A. Cameron of from Robert A. Cameron & Associates in Weston FL. Mr. Cameron works with employers to help them increase the effectiveness of their employee selection and retention, and improve their company’s productivity and profitability. They can be reached at 954-385-8701 or visit their website at http://www.racameron.com.

Stop the revolving door of employee turnover. Employee assessment tools have advanced so companies can now more effectively identify, select, and retain top performing employees, and that means providing better service.

The challenge and cost of employee turnover is one of the most discussed, most frustrating and most misunderstood problems businesses face. CEO’s have identified employee retention as one of their key challenges. Yet organizations continue to struggle with this costly issue. The science of psychological assessments has recently advanced, allowing the development of much more predictive assessment tools.

If you do not know what your employee turnover cost is, many experts agree that you can come surprisingly close to the cost of a single turnover incident by simply multiplying the annual salary for the position times 2.5 – that will cover productivity loss, recruiting and hiring cost, training cost, liability, unemployment and the other 101 hidden costs that we usually try not to think of when we lose an employee. What is the cost of poor customer service!

Employee turnover often begins with a poor hiring decision. When we hire someone who is a poor job fit, we have already begun an almost inevitable course that will end with failure – and another turnover casualty. Part of the problem of poor hiring lies with our poor tools: One comprehensive study of the hiring process indicated that, if an interview is your only tool, you have only a 14% chance of making a good hire. Add good reference checking (and we all know how difficult that can be), you can raise your success ratio to 26%. If your goal is to beat one out of four odds, you need better tools!

Fortunately, the science of employee assessments has produced increasingly useful tools to add to the art of hiring. While no assessment, or even a combination of assessments, guarantees success, the same study showed that use of personality, abilities, interests, and job matching measures can raise your success rate to 75% or better. Equally important, valid pre employment screening assessment tools in all of those areas can be applied for well below 1% of the projected cost of a bad hire.

Why don’t more of us use employee assessments to improve our hiring (and lower turnover)? Part of the answer lies in lack of education on the topic – not many of us have even attended a single seminar on use of scientific assessment tools. Part lies in reluctance to spend any money on new processes. Part of it, frankly, is the already overwhelming load we place on the people who are doing the hiring – they are so busy bailing the boat, they can’t take time out to turn on the bilge pumps! To change the course of turnover, you must recognize that the costs are killing you, that you can change course, and that the rewards are well worth the trouble.

For more information on employee assessments, you can call Robert A. Cameron & Associates at 954-385-8701 or visit their website at http://www.racameron.com. Thank you to Mr. Cameron for writing this post about a very interesting topic.

If you have an idea for a guest writer, feel free to post the person or company’s name, web site, etc. in the comments section.

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