Archive for December, 2009

“For a better call experience, press 1…”

What options are your callers looking for when they call your business?

We’re working with a new client who will be using an Automated Attendant to answer the initial call to their business. (See: When to use an Auto attendant)

Since they are implementing this for the first time, right now is a critical time to evaluate what the call experience will be.

Our initial steps are to uncover all the available options for callers from the business perspective. Every reason a caller might be calling. We will list those out, and order them in importance.

Then we’ll evaluate that from the caller’s perspective. What may be most important to the business may not be the most important option for the caller! And guess who wants to be in control in this scenario? The caller…they are the ones actively participating in the conversation.

Next, we analyze the words used to describe the various functions. Are they using “standard” words like “Sales Department”, “Accounting”, and similar “non-action” words?

From a caller’s perspective, those words are sometimes hazy…not easily spelling out what you want them to do.

We suggest using options like “To make a purchase, or inquire about products”, “To pay a bill, or request a payment”…. options that clearly state what you want the caller to find behind that option. And don’t be afraid to make it a call to action…as in: “Request a consultation”

Next time we’ll talk about the order you choose for your options, and how you can make it easy for your caller to remember the option they want to choose.

Is lack of continuity on your phone losing customers?

I just hung up the phone with American Express, and wow, what an experience!
I called to ask for a credit increase on my American Express card. The Interactive Voice Response system easily walked me through the process of entering my account information, entering the amount of credit I was requesting, and entering income details. It then proceeded to ask me to wait, while it transferred me to a representative.

I expected the representative to pick up right where the system left off, complete the application, and provide my results.

Boy was I disappointed in American Express! The phone system didn’t hand off any of my information. The representative answered the call as if I had just called in, and had no idea that that I was in the middle of a request for a credit increase. In fact, as I explained to him the process I had been walked through by the IVR, he sounded slightly amazed, as if he didn’t realize their phone system did that!

As I explained my story, he offered to put me through to the “Credit Increase Department”, which sounded promising to me.

The representative that answered the phone continued my dissapointment with American Express. She did not know my name, (which I had by now given twice), she did not know what I was calling about (which I had now given twice), and she did not have my account information (which I had now given…yep, you guessed it…two times!)

She offered to submit a request for me, and I proceeded to give her all my information (again).

I then asked about their 60 day policy. You see, American Express has a policy that they will not raise a credit limit within 60 days of opening the account.

Now, this wouldn’t normally be a problem. Except we had just moved from a Visa card with Bank of America, to the American Express card. American Express, in their infinite wisdom, decided that our business only needed a credit line that was 15 percent of our old card.

I asked if there was someone I could speak to about authorizing an increase. I was told no there wasn’t, not within 60 days.

I explained how this was making it quite difficult to run a small business. American Express markets themselves as the Small Business Solution…the one thing you need if you’re a small business. Then they’ve made it incredibly difficult to do business with them.

The representative did tell me that the soonest they could offer an increase would be the 15th of December (which, ironically, is LESS than 60 days since we opened the account!), and suggested I call back then.

So how could American Express have handled this better? Let’s count the ways:

  1. The IVR system could include a message about the 60 day policy.
  2. The IVR could complete the process without the hand-off to a representative
  3. The IVR could display my information out to the rep, so he would be instantly up to speed on what my call was all about.
  4. The IVR could have transferred me directly to the Credit Increase Department, since it already knew that’s what I wanted.
  5. The rep that did transfer me to the Credit Increase Department could have made an Assisted Transfer, passing along my story (and my name and account information) to the next representative.
  6. With a company policy in place that shackles her hands, this representative wasn’t going to be able to change a lot for me. However, rather than ask me to call back, she could offer to be proactive, take my information, and submit the request on the 15th, rather then make me start the process over again.
  7. She could offer to contact me with the results or any questions at that time.

Any of these things would be an improvement on how American Express handled my call. This may have cost them us as a client, and I know we’re not the only ones with this experience!

So why should you care about my experience with American Express?

Hundreds or thousands of customers and prospects are calling your business every week. Have you thought about what their caller experience is like and how you can improve it?

Just a few simple changes like these can make a world of difference in how your customers feel about your business. Don’t make it difficult to do business with you!

What are they thinking?

Your advertisements are tweaked to achieve maximum response. You’ve analyzed the colors, words, and images until you know there’s nothing else you can do. It’s your message to your market, and you’re ready to let it fly.

So what will happen with those potential customers call you? Have you thought about HOW they buy? Have you considered their buying preferences?

Research from Dr. Carl Jung, Dr. Marston,  and others, there are four basic preferences in how people perceive the world, and make decisions. We’ll call those Competitive, Spontaneous, Humanist, and Methodical.

People like to hear things in their own language…the way things make sense to them. If you’re talking in the fast paced, make-it-happen-now, pull-the-trigger-and-ride-the-bullet world of a Spontaneous, you might lose the Humanist, because they need a deeply personal connection in order to do business with you.
On the other hand, outlining all the facts, timelines, and responsibilites for the Methodical can cause the Competitive, and especillay the Spontaneous, to be bored, and not pay attention.

Just like we like to communicate in the “language” of our personality type, we also tend to write and speak in that same language.

So what do you do? How can you keep from isolating a large percentage of your callers?

You should make a consciense effort to include words from each of the four personality types.

Methodicals focus on language that answers the question “How?”. How does this work? How do the details fit together. How can I plan ahead with this?

Spontaneous personalities live in the moment, focusing on phrases like “Why do you think you can getme what I need quickly? Why is your service superior?

Humanistic personalities have a personal, relationship-oriented focus. They want to hear phrases like “Who uses your products? Who is on your staff, and let me see the bios. Who can tell me how your product or service will make me feel?

Competitive personalities focus on answering the “What” question. They’ll often ask “What are your competitive advantages? What makes you a superior choice? And What can you do to help me be more productive.

Wow! That’s a lot to keep up with! So how does it all work together? Here’s an example of four different ads, each written for a mythical cruise line. Each based on the same DEMOgraphics, but written specifically for each of the four personalities. See if you can tell which ad is targeted to which demographic?

1. 8 decks of fun. 21 meals prepared by top chefs in the world. 42 hours to sit by the pool. Planned activities everyday. Bring your swimsuit and evening gown, because we cover both extremes. We guarantee you’ll relax, or your money back.

2. Congratulations, you’re cruising on the best rated Cruise Line ever. Custom toiletries in every cabin, and VIP tours and activities are available. Meet new friends, and show off a little while you relax. And never be out of touch with your friends and followers, with onboard internet access (included in your Premium pass).

3. You’ll never have another chance to live today, so enjoy it as much as you can with a cruise on Women’s Escape Cruislines. Book it now for a special bonus offer of an “I Escaped with W.E.C!” windbreaker. Because this might be your first cruise, but it won’t be your last. Make your own schedule, because on this cruise, we’re open around the clock!

4. “Cruising was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever taken”…Cristy – Cruised to Barbados . “Knowing that Women’s Escape Cruislines was tailored specifically for what I as a woman like, made it an easy choice. And spending the week with 3 old friends made it feel like we were back in middle school”. Helen – Cruised to Jamaica. Women’s Escape Cruislines has the most return friends cruising. In fact, 40% of our cruisers are second or 3rd time cruisers.

So how did you do? 1 is for the Methodical, with all details included, nothing left to chance, and prepared for anything. 2 is for the Competitive, with VIP tours, best ratings, and premium upgrades. 3 is for the Spontaneous, with a “book it now” bonus offer, a free gift, and the ability to have fun when and where you want. And 4 is for the Humanistic, with a personal connection, a reccomendation from someone else, and a knowledge that they are making the right choice.


By writing your On-Hold and  Auto Attendant messages with these things in mind, you’ll be able to craft your specific message in ways that will strike a chord with all personalities!