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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!

10 Tips for IVR Success | Ifbyphone

10 Tips for IVR Success | Ifbyphone

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I don’t know how to say this, but…

I had a great experience today from a company that I’m very familiar with, but didn’t know how to pronounce their name! I’m sure you’ve seen “Teva” in print (or maybe even on the sole of your favorite pair of sandals!). The word means “Nature” in the Hebrew language.

Now if you’re like most people I know, you pronounce that as “Tee-va”. Though you’re not quite positive that’s correct, so you sorta say it fast and mumble, in case the person you’re talking to knows for sure!

I finally settled this once and for all (thanks to Twitter) today. From Twitter:

“@TevaMeansNature so, settle this please: is it “tEEva” (long e) or “tEva” (short e) The world wants to know! :-)”

And the reply:

“@ChesterHull GREAT question. It’s Tev-ah not Tee-va. Too funny, thanks for the question.”

You’ll notice the link, which lead me to:

So I got to thinking, how can you help your customer’s experience in your marketing? One way is by capitalizing on the difficulty in pronouncing your name! (This is especially helpful for the introverted consumer!)Teva has done this in a way that has fun, and makes you feel great about the company. They’re not correcting you with their ad, simply helping you expand your understanding!All while showing you their equipment in action.

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to address it head-on!

Tune that Static!

Have you ever been “invited” to be put On-Hold, and found yourself listening to the static of an unknown radio station? It happened to me yesterday. I called a prominent, nationwide company. I called their local office, and was put On-Hold…listening to a static radio station isn’t a great way to give me a good feeling about the company.”Of course” you say, “in your business, you’re a lot more tuned into thinking about the On-Hold experience.”True. But have you paid attention to what your callers are saying about your On-Hold experience?Want a real-time view of what callers hate (and like!) to hear while they’re On-Hold? go to, and search for On-Hold.Then call your company. Ask to be put On-Hold, and walk a few minutes in the shoes (or “ears”) of your customer. The experience might change you…If it encourages you to start talking to your caller, in the their language, and transforming your caller experience, then great!Anything less, and you’re really just tuning static!

Why you hate On-Hold music

You’re standing 6 rows back, and just to the right of center, facing the stage. The sky above the field dimming as the light trusses blaze brighter. In a flurry side stage, you glimpse them, last minute preparations…and now they’re on stage, kicking off one of the greatest (or the first) concert you’ve ever heard!

So what is it about the music that makes it so popular? How can bands like U2 remain for so long, and command such a high ticket price?

It’s because of the emotion…the experience. Music carries emotion. It can replay memories more powerful than reality. Trigger aroma’s stronger than they ever were. And place us once again with our first romantic love. Music is a portal…a time machine to take us to lands and times close…and far away.

So what does this have to do with On-Hold music? Just do a Twitter search for “on-hold”, and you’ll see what people think of the music: “On hold with health insurance co – I refused their elevator hold music intended to make you give up and hang up – give me dead air any day.”

…and ” I wonder if there been any new on-hold music recorded since 1987.”

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HOW you say it makes all the difference…

I’ve often heard people say “______ advertising doesn’t work. It’s a worthless waste of money.” (fill in the blank with radio, newspaper, TV, yellow pages, etc!)

But those same people are usually not willing to examine the message.

Whatever advertising media you choose to use, the message is the most important part.

The following link takes you to a short film called, “The Story of A Sign.” It illustrates very simply the importance of copy that speaks not to the head, but to the heart.

It’s how you choose to say your message that makes all the difference in the world…

“This offer ends September 30th…”

I heard a radio ad today that ended with this line. The ad was for GM Goodwrench, and was advertising an “oil change, tire rotation, and multi-point inspection” bundle. Fairly standard fair for any dealer, service shop, or quick lube facility.

I mean, you can pretty much roll up to any one of a dozen places in your home town, and within 45 minutes, be out the door, having new oil, rotated tires, and a “multi-point inspection” (whatever that means!), all for around $30-$50 bucks!

So the thing that made this ad a bit odd, was that not only was it “advertising” the standard fare that you can get anywhere (no real reason to go to that location), but it didn’t even include a price in the offer! Yet the end of the ad was filled with “Ad-speak”, ending with “This offer ends September 30th.”

Does that mean they won’t offer the “multi-point inspection” after September? I’ll only be able to get the oil change and tire rotation for the (non-) advertised price? What a dissapointment! I think I’ll rush in their right now!

Have you thought about the ads that you’re running? Do they sound like ads? Do you think you’re making an offer, when in the mind of your listener (read: next customer) it doesn’t even pass the “so what?” test?

If you’re going to make an offer, make it something worth listening to! Make it something that will have your listeners sitting up and taking notice!
Not just next offer in a never ending stream of ‘sales’.

“Your call is important to us…”

Wow, how many times have you heard that this week? So, who is kidding whom? Of COURSE your call is important to them! But we would suggest that the time On-Hold could be better used to show the caller just why and how their call or their business is important to the business.

One of the best ways to do this is by using the theatre of the mind in each of your callers. Describing how your product or service will make a difference in the caller’s life will be MUCH more powerful than saying “your call is important to us.”

And this one: “Your call is important to us, and we will answer your call in the order it was received”. Again, did you expect them to jump around? Did you actually expect them to answer the call that came in after yours, leaving yours until the next hour, day, or week?

Telling your caller that you will answer their call in the order it was received simply reminds them that they are waiting in line. Probably not something you want to remind them to think about!

Now, what would your caller experience be if you used that time to paint a picture of the caller using your product or service?
Or had success stories of people who’s lives are changed because of what you provided?

The next time you are On-Hold, think about the On-Hold experience your delivering to YOUR clients!

Delivering continuity

I received a postcard in the mail last week. The smiling face of Tiger Woods stared up at me, while his testimonial told me that after all his research, he chose TLC to do his laser vision correction.

“So what?” you say? “Celebrities get paid to endorse all KINDS of things everyday!”

Well this post isn’t about celebrity endorsements. It’s about continuity in advertising. It’s about making the customer feel comfortable by providing the follow-up that they expect.

And here’s what I mean. I have been considering laser surgery for some time. So the mailer was a great reminder to make an appointment.

When I walked in to the TLC office, I was again greeted by Tiger Woods. (not in person of course…but a poster) There were some other marketing collatoral peices continuing Tiger’s theme of “I did all the research, and chose TLC”.

I didn’t think too much of it until I was left alone in the exam room, waiting for the doctor. As I looked around, I spied a large poster of Tiger Woods on the golf course. It didn’t say anything about laser surgery, or TLC, but there he was, reinforcing the message. Reinforcing MY decision to be there. And in the back of my mind I heard a little “click”. That “click” was the connection being made. The advertising said “Here is someone you know…someone you probably trust. They’ve done a bunch of research, and THIS is the best place to have your eyesight corrected. After all, you only have one set of eyes. And since Tiger has done all the research…you don’t have to!” THAT’S the key! Don’t waste your time researching it…some with more at stake than you have has made the decision for you.

And there, in the dimly light exam room, was a big poster of Tiger, reinforcing that decision.

So, TLC has done a great job of a unified, continuous advertising message. It never let me down. It was always there, friendly and consistent.

Now how about a contrast?

I was reading the news, and a banner ad for Mcdonalds popped up:

“FREE McGriddles – Click It. Get It.”

Ok, so maybe I’m dense, but I clicked all over the McDonald’s website looking for how to get free McGriddles. Nothing. Couldn’t find another mention of it anywhere!

It was quite frustrating! Not that I crave a McGriddle, but that I wanted it for free! And they wouldn’t give it to me!

So how about your marketing? Are you following through with your offers? Is your marketing consistent…delivering a unified message?

Or are you frustrating callers by advertising something you’re not delivering?

Because if you’re not delivering, your customers will see right through your advertising…with or without laser surgery.

Food for thought…

“We Finance!” (or, “Grabbing your Customer’s Attention”)

So I’m driving down the road today, past “Used Car Alley”. It looks like the Banner and Flag company just made a run through the area, because EVERY store has a new roadside flag or banner.

And what do I see at one of the used car dealers? An 8 foot tall vertical flag proclaiming: “We Finance!”

WeFinance Banner

Now, think about it. Have you ever seen or been to a car dealer (new OR used) that DIDN’T finance? Doesn’t everyone know that financing is an integral part of the car dealer’s offering?

 So couldn’t it be more powerful for the auto dealer to use that brief advertising moment with a potential buyer, to let them know something pertinant to the sale of a vehicle?

What if the dealer said that they offer a free CarFax with every car?

Or a free fuel fill up?

Or Oil Changes for Life, when you purchase from them?

 Those messages would be much more compelling, and much more likely to grab a potential buyer’s attention, amidst all the other dealers.

So what about you? What messages are you or your company paying good money to get out, to which nobody is paying attention? Is your marketing just adding to the “marketing clutter”?

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