Archive for April, 2019

5 Stages in the Customer Buying Process (and How to Get the Most Out of Them)

Posted on: April 30th, 2019 by Dan Deschidar No Comments

Your company’s success depends greatly on your ability to sell. But in our ever-competitive business environment, having a great sales team is no longer enough. You also have to be able to approach customers with the right message at the right time.

These days, customers are always on the go and simply do not have time to answer calls that are not relevant to them. Instead, they expect businesses to be familiar with their purchase history and reach out with personalized offers.

And this is where the five stages of the customer buying process come in handy. These stages describe the steps customers go through when deciding to purchase a product or service.

Put simply, if you can identify which stage your customer is at, you’ll not only be able to empower your sales reps to sell more effectively but also level up your sales strategy.

Below, I’ll explain to you the 5 (+1) stages of the customer buying process and how you can leverage each of them. Don’t miss out on this one!

1. The honeymoon stage

The first stage after any purchase is the ‘honeymoon’ stage (also called the ‘satisfaction’ stage). The name speaks for itself: this is the stage right after a purchase when customers are (ideally) very satisfied with the product or service they just purchased. The ‘honeymoon’ stage can last days, weeks, months or even years, depending on the product purchased.

Since customers are happy at this stage, it is very likely that they are not considering making a new purchase. Therefore, cold calls and offer-making at this stage is simply a waste of time.

What you can do, instead, is to reach out and start building relationships with your customers. Try and discover as much as you can about their situation, and also get as much information about them as you can. And don’t forget to reach out to them again when their second stage begins!

2. The problem stage

Nothing lasts forever, and that’s also true for the buying cycle. In the customer buying process, right after the honeymoon period, the problem stage begins.

During this stage, customers start to notice shortcomings of the product or services they purchased. Since these are usually minor issues, it’s still too early to make direct offers, as customers are not ready to make new purchases yet.

As such, the problem stage is an ideal time to reach out again, identify the problems customers are experiencing, and subtly highlight how these problems could affect their everyday life in the long run.

3. Decision to change

In the customer buying process, the ‘decision to change’ stage is when product or service problems have started to build up and customers begin to realize it’s time to make a new purchase.

As you can see, slowly but surely you’re getting there. But, again, instead of rushing into making a hasty offer, what you need to do at this stage with customers is to try and obtain commitment to change from them.

When you reach out, make sure to list the problems you already talked about and offer the possibility of an alternative solution. Example: “based on our last conversation, if I understood correctly, you are experiencing the following problems (…). Did you consider looking for an alternative solution?”

4. The investigation stage

The next stage is the investigation stage, where you’re just one step away from actual selling. Once a customer has recognized they have issues with their product or service and decide to change, the investigation stage of the customer buying process can begin.

As the customer is already looking for an alternative, this is where your sales reps will need to act quickly and take things to the next level.

At this stage, make sure to get specific about customer needs, prioritize what the most important things are to them and prepare to make a personalized offer. Guide them closely through this stage and you will be able to ensure that at the end of the sales cycle they will choose your product or service.

5. The purchase stage

After proper investigation, customers move to the purchase stage, where actual selection takes place. By now, the customer has investigated multiple options and is about to select a certain product based on their experience in earlier stages.

At this point, however, they may still change their minds and decide to walk away. As such, this is the stage in the customer buying process where you’ll need to step up the game to make sure customers choose you over the competition.

Make sure to highlight the value of your product or service and list its advantages, and remind them why they wanted to purchase your product in the first place.

Once they are convinced, the time has finally come to make an actual offer and get the customer to make the purchase.

+1 The follow-up stage

Just because a purchase has been made, it doesn’t mean your job is done. Indeed, after a new purchase, customers immediately start to evaluate whether they made the right decision to choose your product or service. As mentioned above, the ‘honeymoon’ stage will likely wear off after a while.

But even if they are satisfied with their decision at the moment, you should not leave them alone. Customers expect businesses to offer them a fully personalized buying experience, and following up is definitely part of the deal.

As such, make sure you do this, asking them if they have any questions and reassure them about their decision. Remember, a future purchase might depend on your post-sale attitude!

So, there it is, the five stages of the customer buying process. As you can see, actual selling takes place only towards the end of the process, and with good reason: rushing into making a hasty offer may easily scare your potential customers away. Instead, make sure to understand the stages they are going through and target them with the right message at the right time!

Pro Tips to Have a Better Customer Self-Service Portal

Posted on: April 26th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

With consumer behavior developing as it is, customers need answers quickly, demand personalized support experience, and are willing to solve their issues themselves.

That’s why, every year, customer self-service is getting more and more popular. Setting up a self-service portal is a major step towards a fully modernized customer service. But as we know, there’s always room for improvement.

So, here are some handy tips and tricks to have a better customer self-service portal. Check them out and step up your game!

Highlight the most frequent questions

A customer self-service portal needs to contain all the information your customers might possibly look for. Of course, the more information the easier it is to get lost.  

Your customers, however, should be able to quickly find the answers to their questions in your customer self-service portal, without looking too hard. So, why not add an FAQ section to your portal?

An FAQ has two major benefits: on one hand, it saves the customers time and effort, which they’ll most probably appreciate. On the other hand, it saves time and effort for your agents as well.

Add visuals to your customer self-service portal

Images and videos can deliver a message much faster than any other way, so it’s no surprise that visual content has started to dominate our lives.

Would you rather watch a 3-minute video or read a 6-page long support material? Most customers would go for the first option! As such, make sure to add visual elements to your customer self-service portal in order to help customers better understand your support material.

By creating screenshots and how-to videos, for example, you can walk your customers through important issues, while conveying instructions in a straightforward and easy-to-understand way.

Make it easy to access a live agent

When setting up a customer self-service portal, one major goal is to reduce call volumes by allowing customers to perform routine tasks without interacting with a call center agent.

But even if you have the most comprehensive self-service portal, your customers might get stuck and need to talk to a live agent at a certain point. And since they have already spent some time trying to solve their issue, they will want to be transferred to a live agent as soon as possible without any hassle.

Therefore, in order to sustain high customer satisfaction, you’ll need to make it easy for your customers to move from self-service to live agent-assisted service. Implementing, a one-click solution, for example, that takes customers directly to a live agent can be a great way of transferring to assisted service.

Assess Your Self-Service Portal – and Improve

So, you finally finished building your customer self-service portal. However, the job isn’t over. Once your customers start to use it, it’s essential that you continue to keep an eye on it.  

These days, data is everywhere, you just need to make good use of it. So, after you set up your self-service portal, make sure to start measuring its effectiveness. Amongst other things, a reduced call volume will indicate that you successfully managed to ease up your customer service lines by directing some of your customers to your self-service portal.

Last but not least, don’t forget to ask customers for feedback. After all, it is they who use your self-service portal in the first place.

Feature Release: Single Sign-On Is Now Available on VCC Live® Desk

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Not so long ago, we received a customer request from a major client of ours who wanted to be able to easily login to VCC Live® Desk.

So now they can! As you know, developing our solution to fit customer needs is one of the main business principles in our company.  

As such, we’re delighted to announce that single sign-on (SSO) is now available on VCC Live® Desk.  

Single sign-on (SSO) is a centralized user authentication service in which one set of login credentials can be used to access multiple applications.

Its beauty is in its simplicity: from now on, once your operators logged into to their computer, they can access VCC Live® Desk by simply hitting a button, without having to type their username and password each time. The feature also supports accounts with several users, therefore supervisors too can greatly benefit from SSO.

Here at VCC Live®, we all know the importance of integrations. Therefore, our SSO feature is compatible with Windows AD, Office 365, even using Microsoft Azure.

Single sign-on brings quite a few benefits to businesses: it provides an extra level of security, better user experience as well as increased productivity.

As we all know, weak passwords are a major threat to any organization, not to mention the financial consequences a possible cyber attack can cause. With SSO, however, you can minimize the risk of lost, forgotten or weak passwords.

And since users get one-click access to needed systems after logging in once, with SSO your operators can spend more time working, increasing their overall productivity.

Last but not least, implementing simple login processes will definitely improve user experience. Call center agents use a number of systems on a daily basis, and I’m sure they will appreciate if you make their job easier by giving them access to the systems they use with a single click.

You can read more about our SSO feature here. Please note that the single sign-on feature can be activated in VCC Live® Desk upon request.

Why Your Call Center Needs Video Call Feature

Posted on: April 12th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

With the rising popularity of omnichannel communication, businesses have started to explore new channels of communications. But only a few managed to fully embrace the opportunities provided by omnichannel customer support.

And while more and more channels gained popularity in the market, interacting with customers via video call is still relatively new to the business world.

Introducing video call feature to your call center is definitely the next step in leveling up your customer service. Make sure to read on and find out why!

Personalized customer experience

These days, customers expect you to offer them personalized customer experience. And if you need a more personal way to interact with your customers, then video call feature in your call center will come in handy.

Leveraging visual engagement by relying on video calls will allow you to create a more personal relationship with your customers, encouraging them to connect emotionally to your brand. Indeed, face-to-face communication can help build trust with your customers.

During video calls, your agents will be able to see your customers’ emotions, which will help them personalize the call while addressing their concerns.

Furthermore, such up-to-date technology, as video calls, will definitely help you modernize your customer interactions, while also improving the image and reputation of your call center.

Enhanced real-time support

The lack of a visual element has always made customer interactions with call centers more difficult. Customers, who lack technical knowledge, often struggle to keep up with agents’ explanations.

One major advantage of video call feature is that it allows customer service agents to provide enhanced real-time support. And this real-time communication is what really helps customers and agents better understand each other.

For instance, during a video call, participants can analyze facial expressions, as well as gestures, to make it easier to interpret what the other person is really trying to say.

Also, video call feature has the potential to work effectively with features such as co-browsing and screen sharing, allowing your agents to further enhance real-time support by guiding customers step by step and even gain control of their screen when necessary.

Improved first call resolution

One of the most important metrics a call center can measure is its first call resolution rate, which shows whether or not a customer’s need is properly addressed for the first time by the customer service team.

Video call allows call center agents to quickly identify and react to customer issues and it requires significantly less time to close an issue via video call than trying to explain the resolution steps via phone, email or chat.

During a video call, your customers can receive immediate responses to their issues. This, of course, does not only increase the levels of customer satisfaction but also improves your first call resolution.

Also, with video call feature, instead of requesting a call-back, your customers can immediately let your agents know if they cannot keep up with their explanations. This again will greatly help you increase your first call resolution.

Video calls create a better experience for customers, often increasing their loyalty and trust in the brand. With this in mind, if you haven’t already, then make sure to leverage video call feature in your call center.

The Benefits of Building an Online Community

Posted on: April 10th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

The Internet has given us many genuinely great things, one of them being a more accessible virtual marketplace offering loads of advantages to businesses.

Amongst other things, you can now easily build online communities within this virtual marketplace. And if you sell technology solutions, for example, an online community will be invaluable for your business.

Before we check out what the main benefits of online communities could be for your business, let’s quickly clarify what an online community exactly is.

What is an online community?

An online community is a group of people sharing a common interest who use virtual platforms to communicate and pursue their interest.

The most common platforms businesses utilize to build online communities are forums, instant messaging, email, websites and social platforms.

A forum is arguably your best option when building an online community for your business. By using a forum you can create as many topics as you want, and enable your community to share their thoughts on a variety of relevant subjects in a moderated environment.

Benefit No 1: Increased retention and engagement

As I’m sure you’ll be aware, these days it is actually cheaper to maintain existing customers than to acquire new ones. Therefore, customer retention is one of the most effective ways to grow a business.

And one major benefit of building an online community is that it can significantly increase customer retention and engagement.

If a customer is part of your online community, they’ll want to see responses and follow conversations they’re interested in – and they will keep coming back to your website to stay updated to those conversations. As a result, you’ll have the chance to turn one-time visitors into returning visitors.

In addition, your online community will be continually starting new conversations, sharing their experiences and opinions on relevant topics. This, of course, will help you increase your customer engagement.

Benefit No 2: Building trust

Building an online community is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your customers. Furthermore, a well-run online community will also help you build customer trust.

Be it a technology solution or insurance services, in our ever-connected world, generating high quality content is a must for any business. As such, creating educational content and using it to support your online communities will show your customers that you are an expert in the field, further increasing their trust in your business.

Furthermore, today’s empowered customers increasingly like to know that their concerns and ideas are being heard by the businesses they choose. So, if you listen and react to their ideas, it’s most likely that in return they will become more loyal to your business.

Benefit No 3: Improved customer service

Another major benefit of building an online community is that they will help you improve your customer experience by easing up your customer service lines.

As everyone knows, you have to work hard to provide your customers with exceptional customer experience. And I’m sure that every now and then – especially during peak times – you have a difficult time answering every single question your customers have. Luckily, your online community can provide a resource that will be happy to give valuable answers to simple customer queries.

And let’s also not forget that self-service customer service has been around for a while, and for good reason: customer support lines are often busy and sometimes customers cannot wait hours for a simple but important question. In such situations, an online community is again a great way to help them out with their questions.

If you want to turn your customers into brand loyalists and connect them with a community who can help them with their challenges, then it’s time to think about building an online community. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll show you how to do that step by step, so look out for my next article!  

Our Data Security Steps to Keep Your Business Covered

Posted on: April 4th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

In our ever-connected world, data is everywhere. But having access to an ever-increasing amount of information has also led to a number of challenges. One challenge is that organizations storing sensitive customer data have become a major target for cybercriminals.

Although there is no complete escape from a potential data breach, with thorough preparation, it is possible to mitigate the risks.

At VCC Live®, we’ve always been committed to data security, and took several data security steps throughout the years to keep your business covered. Among other things, this is why we’ve been working hard over the past years to make our company fully GDPR compliant.

Furthermore, being proud holders of the PCI DSS certificate and ISO27001 and ISO22301 certificates – some of the strictest data privacy certificates around– is the ultimate proof of our success in keeping our business data safe and secure.

The PCI DSS certificate applies to any organization that accepts credit and debit card payments. We are proud that this year saw our certificate renewed for the fourth time.

The ISO27001 certificate outlines guidelines for information and data security, and matches the GDPR regulation introduced in 2018. The aim of the ISO22301 certificate is to guarantee business continuity and create stable company practices.

These certificates are absolutely invaluable when we’re assessing internal and external risks, and are equally important when we’re preparing detailed plans for all potentially critical business situations.

With the evolution of cybercrime, businesses handling valuable customer data really do need to take all necessary measures to protect their data. Still, regardless of how thorough your preparation is, data breaches do happen at even the biggest organizations, causing disastrous financial consequences.

In such cases, Cyber Liability Insurance can make or break your business. As such, reflecting our continued desire to be at the cutting edge of security, we have taken the next step towards our dedication to data privacy, and are more than delighted to announce that VCC Live® has signed a Cyber Liability Insurance.

We are proud to say that we are at the cutting edge in this respect too, being among one of only a few companies in this industry who take data security 100% seriously. Nothing proves this better than our GDPR compliant processes and data privacy certificates, along with our new Cyber Liability Insurance.

The Power of Positive Attitude in Customer Service

Posted on: April 3rd, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

“Customer Service is an attitude, not a department.” This quote may be old, but it’s so true, even today.

Let’s be honest, customer service departments are not known as particularly positive places, often being associated with irritation and frustration by both customers and agents.

For agents in particular, talking to a large number of customers every day who only contact you when they experience a problem, can be exhausting.

However, customer service is about helping customers, so a positive attitude is, whether you like it or not, vital for any agent in order to provide effective help.

And, from an agent’s personal point of view, a positive attitude in customer service can make even your worst day a lot better.

So, let’s take a quick look at why a positive attitude is of the utmost importance in a call center agent job. Make sure to read on!

Healthier work environment

A healthy work environment is equally important for both employers and employees. In fact, a healthy work environment helps improve agent well-being and productivity as well as drive business success.

If you think about it, you spend 1/3 of your life at work, so you might want spend it doing something you actually like. Also, as a call center agent you probably work in a team, and so a negative approach to work may affect not only you but everyone in the team.

With these points in mind, focusing on having a positive attitude in customer service will help maintain positive vibes in the office and prevent negativity from bringing the whole team down. And in the long run, a positive attitude will greatly help you and your colleagues contribute to a healthy work environment at the call center.

Improved performance – and career opportunities

Career opportunities at a call center are far more common than you might think. Although most people still think it’s not possible to move up in a call center, the truth is that call center employees have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of career opportunities.

These days, customer service jobs are so much more than simply repeating the same answer to customer after customer. In our tech-dominated world, call center agents need to have a deep understanding of both their customers as well as the products and services they are working with.

Check out our article on how to ladder up in a call center, and one thing will become clear to you: the first step is to master the ins and outs of your agent job. And handling customers with a positive attitude is definitely one important aspect when it comes to mastering these ins and outs.

Increased customer satisfaction

Ask any agent what’s the first thing their managers want and you can be sure that they’ll tell you: satisfied customers.

As a call center agent, satisfied customers is the number one KPI you need to be hitting. And a positive attitude in customer service will help you give your managers the results they are looking for.

Of course, since you’re talking to people who want their problems solved in the first place, annoyance and irritation is part of the deal, but a positive attitude will definitely help you find common ground with your customers, and thus increase overall customer satisfaction.

Negativity can affect not only your overall job performance but also the life of your colleagues around you. So, even when you are having a bad day, try to prevent negative thoughts from bringing you down, and maintain a positive attitude in customer service at all times, if possible. You’ll see it will make all the difference!

Key Features to Look for in Your Sales Software

Posted on: April 2nd, 2019 by Attila Szűcs No Comments

Satisfied customers, satisfied agents and satisfied management – for me, that’s the Holy Trinity of Sales.

Sales is vitally important for the success of any business. But selling in 2019 is definitely more challenging than it was in, say, the 1990s.

Customer expectations have changed, and sales departments have had to change with them. Gone are the days when companies can focus their sales strategy solely on cold calls. And although calls are still an important part of any sales cycle, in our tech-dominated world your company also needs to rely on comprehensive sales software in order to reap success.

Below, I’ve outlined the key features that any sales software you use should definitely have. Check them out and you’ll soon start to be selling more effectively in 2019!

Up-to-date Database

Besides having the right attitude and receiving high-quality sales training, your sales agents will also need certain technology tools in order to sell effectively. An accurate and up-to-date database is, without doubt, one of those tools.

In fact, an accurate database is a prerequisite if you want to successfully manage sales campaigns. Leveraging an up-to-date database will not only allow you to better understand your customers’ behavior and needs but also help you provide your customers with a more personalized experience, thus increasing your up- and cross-sell rates.

Therefore, I suggest you always choose a sales software solution that either comes with built-in databases or can be integrated with any other database.  

Killer Sales Script

As I’m sure you will know, call center scripts are written scripts that call center agents refer to and read from when on the phone with a customer. When used properly, they can greatly help your agents provide a seamless customer experience and sell more effectively. When written poorly, however, they can easily turn your customer experience into a nightmare and even reduce your sales performance levels.

Building powerful scripts is not always easy, and often requires significant time and resources. Even worse, if you hire a third party to build your sales scripts, the process can take up to several weeks. And, of course, time is money for any business.

So, make sure to choose a comprehensive sales software solution that comes with an easy-to-use script editor, allowing you to build and customize your own scripts in the blink of an eye.

With VCC Live®’s system, for example, instead of hiring a third party, you can quickly and easily build your own scripts by using an intuitive drag-and-drop editing interface. You’ll see it makes all the difference!

Predictive Dialer

One thing is certain, running a call center is extremely costly. But with the right tools, you can easily turn your call center into a profit center, rather than a cost center. One tool that will definitely help you do this is having a predictive dialer feature in your sales software.

The golden principle of sales is simple: the more people you reach, the more you can sell. Predictive dialers use statistical data to help predict how many numbers need to be dialed at any one time, so that every agent is always in an active call, and as a result, outbound dialing rates are substantially sped up.

VCC Live®’s intelligent predictive dialer, for example, can allow your agents to spend up to 40-45 minutes per hour in active talk with customers, enabling you to significantly increase the possibility of making more sales. Impressive, right?

Furthermore, our intelligent predictive dialer monitors activity during specific periods and automatically sets its parameters based on historical data available from those periods. Feedback from our customers shows that utilizing our predictive dialer results in, on average, an overall 30% increase in sales performance.

Effective Integration

There’s no doubt that embracing new technologies during the customer journey is essential to meeting customer needs. But if you ask me, without integration, there is no digital transformation.

Most companies use several technology solutions on a daily basis, and it is integration that helps keep their customer data consistent and up-to-date throughout all their systems. It is also integration that allows agents to use one single platform during customer interactions, instead of switching from one system to another.

If your systems are not integrated, your agents will have no choice but to switch from one system to another during customer interactions. Needless to say, making your agents navigate between several systems will hurt your team’s productivity, and consequently their sales performance.

On the other hand, with system integration, your agents will be able to access all necessary customer information on a single platform, allowing them to provide customers with personalized up- and cross-sell offers.

Based on my experience, I would say it is crucial for any business to choose a sales software solution that is able to integrate with other tools. VCC Live®’s system, for example, can be integrated with a great number of tools, such as CRMs, workforce and workflow management systems, including Zapier, Salesforce, Facebook Messenger , MS products, and so on.

Data Analytics

Having access to limitless information certainly led to new challenges (just think of the increasing number of cyberattacks), but at the same time, it also created new opportunities for businesses to make good use of the great amount of data they gather.

And how can you make good use of this data? By measuring everything, of course.

Applying data analytics to measure data can play a key role in increasing your sales performance. It’s logical if you think about it: your best chance of selling your product or services is if you understand which offers are most relevant to your customers.

By using data analytics, you’ll be able to examine patterns, such as purchase history, in a customer’s past behavior, and then identify their preferences and needs. Such information will, without doubt, help your agents cross- or up-sell products that are the most relevant to your customers.

Luckily, these days, comprehensive software solutions come with intelligent reporting tools such as real-time statistics, dashboards and wallboards to measure customer data and KPIs.

In particular, by measuring your KPIs, you can structure your workforce management based on identified peak and idle times. As such, in peak times, you can allocate more agents to take care of incoming calls, while in idle times your agents can initiate outbound campaigns.

So, these are the features that I believe are the most important ones to consider when buying a sales software. Now that you know what to look for, there’s no reason for you not to choose a comprehensive technology solution that will help your sales numbers skyrocket!