Customer relationship management (CRM) software has been around for a while. At this point, most companies are using a CRM of some sort to manage their customer relationships, track sales, etc. However, a new element has arisen in the CRM realm: social CRM. Below we’ll dig into some best practices for leveraging social CRM so beef up your marketing efforts. But first, we’ll cover some basics.
What is social CRM?
Traditional CRM allows you to store loads of client and prospect data, then use that to move deals through the pipeline. Social CRM is more about targeting potential customers on social media, sharing content and other important news, and engaging with them through direct conversations on the social platforms they use most. It allows for a much more personal approach to customer interactions and can drive lots of business when you engage in proper social media marketing.
Social CRM best practices1.Select the right technology
As the name suggests, social CRM typically calls for having a CRM solution in place. Some CRMs don’t provide any type of social CRM capabilities. Others, like Agile CRM, provide robust social CRM features.
What should you look for in a social CRM solution? Here are a few of the core features that any social CRM solution worth its salt should include:
The ability to post to social media from within your CRM
2. Have a dedicated social media manager
It’s important that you have one person who oversees your social media presence. They can have assistants, and others in the company can get involved. But it’s crucial that one person owns the operation and drives the effort.
When multiple people are posting to your company’s social media channels, it can result in inconsistent messaging. You also might have two different people posting the same thing at the same time. It can easily spiral out of control when multiple people are posting, so ensure that you have one dedicated manager and that every post goes through them.
3. Allow your social manager to put a human face on your social presence
Another benefit of having one single person running the show is that they can put a human face on your social media presence. People feel more comfortable interacting with another human—with a personality—than a faceless company logo with a voice behind it.
Allowing your social media manager to let their personality come out in the posts and replies they publish on social media accomplishes this. People will start to form relationships with your company through the relationships they build with your social media manager. This is why it’s so important to hire a social manager with charisma, a great attitude, and a genuine desire to interact with your audience. A “people person,” if you will. Hiring the right person will rocket your social return on investment.
4. Involve customer support
Like it or not, people will have complaints about your product or service. It may not be at all your fault, but it will happen. For that reason, it’s important to have your customer support team involved in your social CRM efforts.
When a negative comment gets posted, support gets alerted and can chime in right away to address the issue before it snowballs out of control. Negative comments and their sentiment spread like wildfire, so be sure support is involved in helping put out those fires before they spread.
5. Create dialogue and avoid one-way communication
Whereas traditional marketing is about talking at your customers and prospects, social CRM marketing is about speaking with them. Respond to their posts. Thank them when they compliment you. If they ask a question, engage them in a dialogue about the issue.
This type of dialogue is how you develop relationships with your customers using a social CRM. It’s a great way to expand the reach of your brand, build brand loyalty, maintain satisfied customers, and reduce customer churn. And this is very important because increasing customer retention rates by just 5% will increase profits by anywhere from 25% to 95% (Bain & Company).
6. Monitor mentions and respond ASAP
When someone mentions your brand on social media, it’s critical that you respond as soon as possible. According to Statista, 41% of social media users in the U.S. expect a response to a social media post within 24 hours.
Leaving a comment or question unanswered for a long period of time will hurt your brand reputation and result in dissatisfied customers. According to Forrester research, 71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing you can do to deliver a positive customer experience. So stay on top of your responses.
7. Participate in relevant social media groups
There are many open and closed groups on social media channels. This is particularly true for Facebook and LinkedIn. These are groups where people gather to discuss a specific topic, such as sales and marketing, finance, or any other industry or topic that people engage with.
Find groups that are discussing the topic around which your product or service revolves. Join them and participate in the conversations there. Don’t blindly promote your brand. Bur rather provide helpful advice and build your presence in the group. Other group members will start to see you as an authority in your space. Over time, as you develop that reputation, you can start to subtly promote your brand to these groups. But be sure to build trust first and foremost.
8. Encourage contributions from your executives
Every now and then, you can have your executives respond to a compliment or comment—when appropriate. This will certainly give the impression that you value your audience and further build brand loyalty. If the CEO has the time to respond to you, wouldn’t you feel just a little special?
9. Make sure your audience knows how to reach you
The point of social CRM marketing is to find new prospects and convert them into customers through the use of social media. It’s imperative that someone with whom you have engaged on social media knows how to reach the company. If they get to the point where they are interested in learning more about your product, they need to know how to reach you.
Use your profile page to share the various points of contact where they can reach you. Include contact info for sales, customer support, etc.
10. Identify and nurture your brand advocates
Brand advocates are everyday people who love your brand and are willing to promote it to their colleagues, friends, and family. If you have satisfied customers who post positive comments about your brand on social media, you have the chance to develop a brand advocate.
Cater to them. Respond when they comment and make an extra effort to engage them in dialogue. Treat them with respect and odds are they will continue to promote your brand, meaning you will have created a new brand advocate.
11. Find potential influencers to collaborate with
Using the social listening and monitoring features that social CRMs like Agile CRM provide, you can be alerted when an industry influencer mentions you on social media. If that happens, you should pounce on the opportunity to engage with them.
If you are successful, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with them and put your brand in front of their following, greatly extending the reach of your brand. Learn more about influencer marketing.
12. Follow your customers and share their posts
This is especially true if you run a B2B marketing team. Find your customers on social media and follow them. When they post something useful, share it. Comment on their posts. Give them positive feedback whenever possible. They will take notice and, once again, you’ll be creating brand loyalty and giving your customer a sense of being valued.
You can also apply this method to prospects that are high-value targets. Follow them and engage with them in the same way. It will go a long way towards helping you close that deal.
Just like with any pursuit where you’re striving for success, it’s important to measure your results when using social CRM. It helps you identify what’s working, what’s not, and how you can improve.
Some common metrics to track on social media are:
Conversions from social media
Be sure to measure on a weekly and monthly basis, keep a scorecard, and track your progress over time. This will provide valuable insight that will come in handy when evolving your social CRM strategy.
Social CRM is gaining in popularity and will continue to do so. Globally, there are 2.34 billion people that are on social media, and 76% of Facebook users (the largest network) log in every day. Think about that for a second. Increasingly, social media is going to be the venue where you interact and engage with your customers and prospects. Today is the time to start forming your social CRM strategy and get the ball rolling—if you have not done so already.
Do you have any anecdotes about your use of social CRM? Share them in the comments section below!
How are you qualifying and converting leads into customers? Do you have a solid process in place to qualify leads so that your sales reps can focus their time on the most sales-ready prospects? Are you converting enough leads that have been qualified by marketing? Lead conversion is at the heart of revenue growth and company expansion. By following the best practices below, you can increase your lead conversion rate and grow your business more sustainably.
1. Publish a blog
We all know that converting leads comes at the end of the sales cycle. But to get leads to the point where they are interested enough to buy your product, you first need to build trust. They need to see you as an authority in your space and trust that you can support them and ensure their success using your product or service.
“The fact is that in the world of today you cannot become an authority simply by declaring yourself as one. Customers are more suspicious, and they want to see you prove it. By producing quality information that’s true and reliable in every blog, you are making sure that you can become that authority.”
Prospects will be more likely to engage with you once you solidify yourself as an authority in their minds. This will lead to higher a lead conversion rate.
2. Integrate your CRM with a marketing automation platform
The vast majority of sales teams today use customer relationship management (CRM) software to move opportunities through the pipeline and close deals. A CRM stores loads of information about each lead in your system, including demographic and behavioral data.
When you use a marketing automation (MA) solution in tandem with your CRM, you can leverage all of that contact data to personalize and target the messages you send your prospects. This lets you present highly relevant messages to your leads rather than blasting a one-size-fits-all message to everyone in your lead database.
You can personalize based on their interests, past buying behavior, and more. This allows you deliver much more personal outreach, which will better engage prospects and increase the likelihood of conversion.
However, to achieve this, you must integrate your CRM and MA systems. This lets them share data in real time and deliver the most targeted and relevant messages possible. If you’re using two separate systems, make sure they are integrated. If you are using an all-in-one CRM—such as Agile CRM—you’ll have sales, marketing, and customer support automation. This means that integration is built into the system and there’s no need to integrate—your CRM and MA solutions are already integrated out of the box, on a single platform.
3. Set up lead scoring to qualify leads
Lead scoring helps you identify the most sales-ready leads in your system. By using a point system that indicates the value that person represents to the organization, you can hone in on their sales-readiness.
You award points to leads for actions they take, like opening or clicking emails, visiting your website, etc. You also award points for demographic data such as their job title. Plus, you determine how many points each action or demographic attribute is worth.
Scores accumulate over time. You set a scoring threshold at which a lead is considered a “marketing qualified lead” (MQL). When they cross the threshold, they are passed over to sales for immediate follow up. This helps sales prioritize their outreach to the most sales-ready leads, so they don’t waste time on dead-end leads or leads that are not yet ready to discuss a purchase. Simply put, lead scoring improves the quality of your leads.
4. Include sales when developing your lead scoring process
You want your lead scoring mechanism to be as precise as possible. It’s a key part of an effective lead conversion process. When you are setting up your lead scoring system, you should include sales in the process. It is a best practice for marketing to confer with sales to decide which actions warrant which score, and at which score a lead is considered to be marketing qualified.
Your sales reps are closer to prospects and know their needs and pain points better than marketers. Getting buy-in from sales not only helps finely tune your scoring system, but also tightness alignment between the two teams. Plus, it will help sales close more deals. A Kentico study found 38% of businesses experienced higher lead to opportunity conversion rates thanks to lead scoring.
5. Revisit and refine your lead scoring process often
It is highly advisable to reevaluate your scoring mechanism at least once per quarter by meeting with sales to gain consensus on whether leads are being qualified too soon or too late. In this way, marketers can continually hone in on the perfect recipe for lead qualification.
If you are passing lots of MQLs to sales, but they are converting very few of them, odds are you are qualifying too soon. In that case, you should increase your MQL threshold. Sales can be instrumental in helping to finely tune this process of lead conversion mapping.
6. Run lead nurturing and generation campaigns
To convert leads, you must first generate leads. Lead generation can take many forms, from social media programs to . Once you generate new leads, you need to nurture them through the pipeline with a series of touchpoints that move them closer to qualification.
Lead nurturing helps you identify sales-ready leads through lead scoring. Each action they take can be scored and moves the lead closer to conversion. Check out some lead nurturing best practices to learn more.
7. Set up killer landing pages
As you move leads through the pipeline, you need to have a way to capture more of their information and increase their engagement with your brand over time. One of the most effective ways to do this is by creating simple landing pages that have one objective: to encourage the lead to take a desired action. That could be downloading content, registering for a webinar, requesting a demo, etc.
The format, content, images, calls to action (CTAs), and other elements of your landing pages make a huge difference in how effective they are. If you are unsure how to approach landing page creation, check out some examples of killer landing pages from your peers.
8. Optimize your calls to action for lead conversion
In the same way that a top-notch landing page can make or break your lead conversion ratio, so can the CTA you include on your landing page. For example, you want to make it painfully clear to the visitor which action you want them to take, how to take it, and what they will receive in exchange.
Variables like the color contrast between your page background and your CTA button, placement of your button on the page, etc. matter a great deal. If your visitor is not sure where to click or what they will receive in exchange for providing their personal information, your CTA won’t be effective. When done well, a great call to action can significantly increase your lead conversion rate.
9. Incorporate data verification
Typically, your landing pages will have a form to collect prospect information. However, many people will provide you with false information—like a fake email address— to receive your offer.
You can avoid this by including various types of data verification in your lead generation web forms. Many MA solutions include capabilities that can detect an invalid email address or phone number when someone is completing a form.
Plus, you can use reCAPTCHA to verify that the entity filling out your form is not a robot. This further reduces fake leads in your database and increases the ability of marketing to qualify high-quality leads so sales can take the baton and work toward converting them.
10. Share your content on social media
You can easily engage your known leads with email marketing and multichannel campaigns. This is because they are executed through your MA solution, which stores your leads’ information so you can reach them directly. But what about those leads out there whose contact data you do not have?
You can reach them on social media! When you create killer content, you can share it across all your social channels. Great content speaks for itself, and if it’s truly exceptional, people will share it. That will extend the reach of your brand and drive more new leads to click through to your website or blog.
Once they do that, the engagement has begun. Always include some type of offer in association with the content you share to capture the contact info of new leads. These will be leads who are genuinely interested in your product or service, which means they will be easier to qualify and convert into customers.
11. Use social monitoring to find brand advocates
The practice of social listening and monitoring lets you instantly be alerted when someone mentions your brand on social media. With social CRM tools, this is quite easy. Notification alerts pop up when someone mentions you, giving you the chance to engage with them at the exact moment when they are already engaging with your company.
If you find people speaking positively about your product or service, reach out to them to show your appreciation. Start a dialogue with them. If they are very happy, you may ask if they want to be featured in a case study or an interview. Treat these people with respect and cater to them in any way possible, because these are potential brand advocates.
Brand advocates are super helpful in promoting your brand and helping to increase conversion rates. You hear a lot about influencers these days, but brand advocates can be even more influential. Consider these statistics from a Convince & Convert infographic:
92% of consumers trust recommendations from brand advocates. (Nielsen)
Only 18% of consumers trust recommendations from industry influencers. (Forrester Research)
12. Enable sales to rapidly follow up on qualified leads
Once a lead is qualified, it needs to be pushed over to sales for immediate follow up. The longer sales waits to reach out to a qualified lead, the lower the chances of conversion will be. According to InsideSales, “Your odds of reaching a new sales lead drop over 10 times if you wait longer than the first hour of shown interest, and the odds of [sales] qualifying that lead decrease six times after the first 60 minutes.”
With a powerful CRM in place, you can automate the routing of real-time alerts to reps the second a new lead becomes qualified. A task can be automatically created with reminders to ensure the rep does not let the MQL fall through the cracks. The faster the outreach, the higher your chances of lead conversion.
13. Measure your lead conversion ratio on a routine basis
Measuring your lead conversion ratio helps you keep a finger on the pulse of your efforts. Essentially, this is the ratio of the number of MQLs that convert into customers. If sales is only converting five of every 100 leads you qualify, that is an indication that you may be qualifying them too soon.
Keep a running monthly scorecard that tracks this metric, so you can maintain insight into how well your lead scoring process is working. It’s always prudent to track and analyze metrics so that you can make data-driven decisions for the future. Doing so helps you identify what’s working and what’s broken, so you can fix the broken parts and focus more energy on tactics that are producing results.
Lead conversion is the bread and butter of your business. It is what brings dollars into the coffers and allows you to grow your business. However, it doesn’t happen on its own; it takes careful planning and execution of various tactics to increase conversion rates.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your leads is important. What would engage you enough to complete a lead form? What actions taken by a company would put you off and force you to unsubscribe? Be empathetic to what leads need in order to engage with your brand.
Then, follow the steps above. Using an MA and CRM solution in tandem will help you automate and streamline your efforts. This will allow you to reach more leads with highly targeted messaging that engages them like never before. When engagement levels increase, conversion rates climb, and revenue grows.
Do you have any tips for increasing your lead conversion rate? Let us know in the comments section below!
You have probably heard the terms “influencer marketing” and “brand advocacy.” On the surface, they can sound like the same thing. However, that could not be further from the truth. In reality, each one can occupy a specific niche in your digital marketing strategy.
Each of the two is important for different reasons. Equally, each of them fulfills a unique need and can be used for distinct purposes. But what is the difference between them? How can you utilize them both to move your marketing efforts forward? Below we dig into the topic to shed some light on the nuanced differences between the influencer and the brand advocate.
What is influencer marketing?
An industry influencer is an individual who is considered to be an authority and thought leader in their industry. For example, Warren Buffet is certainly an influencer in the investment community. People look to him for advice and expertise to help guide them along the road to success. He is an example of a big-league influencer—one that you’re not likely to get a response from if you want to engage in influencer marketing.
How to identify an influencer
In your specific industry, you can find plenty of influencers who people similarly look to for advice and guidance. Look for individuals who run a highly successful and widely-read blog in your industry. Or, keep an eye out for those who have an enormous social media following. They are easy to spot if you know what to look for. They are semi-famous in their own industries and many charge a fee for their collaboration.
Influencer marketing, when done properly, can generate a significant return on investment (ROI). According to a survey by Tomoson, businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. That’s nothing to scoff at.
However, you should be careful with influencers. An infographic on influencer marketing by Tapinfluence and Altimeter reports that 69.4% of influencers decide to be influencers so they can earn money. Many are not as interested in your industry or topic as they might appear to be, but rather are in it to make a buck. So be wary of those who would try to sell you’re their influence right out of the gate.
What is brand advocacy?
Brand advocacy, on the other hand, refers to the promotion of your company by everyday people who love your brand. These include your employees, your highly satisfied customers, or anyone else who has an affinity for your product or service. If they love your company, they will engage in brand advocacy in conversations with their friends, family, and peers.
Anyone who is willing to recommend your product to another individual is a brand advocate. I would venture to say that brand advocacy have the potential to drive a greater ROI and have a larger impact on the success of your marketing campaigns than influencer marketing.
92% of consumers trust recommendations from brand advocates. (Nielsen)
18% of consumers trust recommendations from industry influencers. (Forrester Research)
How do you leverage industry influencers?
First, you want to identify the right influencers for your company and audience. Then, consider how to reach out to them to propose a mutually beneficial collaboration. There are many tactics and strategies for leveraging influencers in your marketing efforts.
Mutually beneficial collaboration
Once you have established a relationship with an influencer, you can propose things like exchanging guest blogs, interviewing them for podcasts, co-authoring blogs with them, and more. Once you have produced some content or other type of deliverable in collaboration with your influencer, it’s time to blast the results everywhere you can. That includes social media, your email newsletter, or even a press release if the resulting product is newsworthy.
Tapping into your influencer’s network
Your influencer will also share the results of your work on their social networks, and that is where the real value of influencer marketing comes in. You get exposure to their entire network, which vastly increases the reach of your content and your brand recognition to a mostly new audience. When your influencer’s followers see that they are working with you, they will take notice and ideally navigate to your site to learn more about your product and what you do.
How to generate and utilize brand advocates
There are several ways to generate brand advocates. Here are a few of the primary methods for generating and leveraging them:
Focus on customer satisfaction
One of the best ways to generate brand advocates is to deliver a world-class customer experience and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. It is predicted that, by 2020, the customer experience will replace price and product as the key brand differentiator. You must make efforts to keep them happy because if you do so, they will more likely advocate for your brand.
Maintaining satisfied customers also builds brand loyalty, which not only positively affects revenue but also helps generate brand advocates. Accenture reports that 55% of U.S. consumers express brand loyalty by recommending the brands and companies they love to family and friends.
Maintain happy employees
Your employees have the potential to be terrific brand advocates. Treat them well, and they are likely to recommend your company. Run employee engagement programs to help them feel like part of the family. Distribute workplace satisfaction surveys and implement some changes based on the results to help them feel heard. Create a positive work environment where praise is given, and employees are rewarded for a job well done.
This will make them feel more motivated and build morale. Motivated employees work harder and are also more likely to speak to their friends about your brand.
Find them on social media
If you use social listening and monitoring tools, you can be alerted in real time when someone mentions your company’s name on social media. When they do, you can engage them immediately, and give them praise for their kind words. They will appreciate this immensely. When they return to social media and continue to talk about how awesome your company is, you will have created a social media advocate.
Both industry influencers and brand advocates have their part to play. Influencers are more difficult to obtain, but they certainly do generate a significant ROI for your efforts. Brand advocacy fills a different need: word of mouth advertising. It’s one thing for an influencer or yourself to tell someone how great your product is. But it’s another thing entirely when that advice comes from someone they know and trust personally.
Ultimately, you may have relationships with a handful of influencers, but you can have hundreds of brand advocates. Brand advocates do the work of promoting your brand on their own. Collaborating with influencers to promote your brand takes time and other resources but can be worth it if you tap into the right influencer. The trick is to know who is right for your brand and audience.
Do you have any tips or lessons learned from brand advocacy or influencer marketing? Share them with us in the comments section below!
A simple service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between your company and your customers. It defines parameters around certain services that you provide, giving your customers a concrete understanding of what they can expect from you. They can be used in a number of circumstances, and we’ll dig into that below. But first, we’ll cover some basics, key elements of SLAs, and the benefits involved in implementing them.
What is a simple service level agreement?
A simple service level agreement defines variables around the service you provide to your customers—such as customer support. However, they can also be used internally, such as to define the amount of time in which your sales reps are expected to follow up on newly qualified leads. Here are some basic parameters that you can define with a simple service level agreement:
Describing the service being provided
If you are using SLAs to define the customer support you provide, you can lay out the basic tenants of that support. For example, you can specify that customer support will always be available to your paying customers. Regardless of what your service is, you should take the time to think about your customers’ needs, and what will ensure their satisfaction with your service. This will allow you to create a simple service level agreement that is solid and trusted by your customers.
Time to respond
Again, if you are using SLAs to define your customer support services, you could use a simple service level agreement to stipulate that any incoming help desk support ticket will be responded to within a maximum of 24 hours, for example. Or that an open ticket will be resolved within X amount of days.
You can also use SLAs to tell sales reps they must reach out to newly qualified leads within a certain time frame. This keeps them focused on the prize, as SLAs are tracked in your contact management system and sales managers can see when they are not being met by your reps.
There may be certain circumstances in which your simple service level agreement does not apply. For example, if there is a natural disaster that prevents your customer support team from being able to work for a few days, your exception clause could cover that. In that case, you would not be held accountable to the contract you have around response times.
Availability of SaaS accessibility
If you run a software as a service (SaaS) company, you know that there are times when your servers may go down. When that happens, your application might not be available to customers for a small amount of time. That is a normal and inevitable occurrence. However, your customers need to be assured that your application will be there for them most of the time.
When your server goes down, it is referred to “downtime.” Equally, when your server is up and running normally, it is called “uptime.” You obviously want to aim for 100% uptime, but things happen unexpectedly and it’s probable that you will have at least a little downtime in each year you provide service. You can use SLAs to promise 95% or 98% uptime on a yearly basis, for example, to assure your customers that they can rely on your service. Learn more about uptime and downtime standards.
Penalties for not meeting SLAs
Just as you need to tell customers what they can expect from your service, you also need to define what happens when you don’t meet your SLA.
Let’s say your customer support team breaks their SLA by leaving a customer support ticket without a response for too long. What happens then? Do you give the customer some credit for future service?
You need to define some kind of reimbursement for not meeting your expected SLA service, otherwise there’s really no point in having them in the first place.
SLA monitoring and reporting
Once your SLAs are in place, who will monitor them and be alerted when they are broken? If you use an all-in-one CRM, like Agile CRM, all of the data around your SLAs is tracked in the system and easily accessible. You can run daily, weekly, or monthly reports to see which SLAs are not being met. This gives you an at-a-glance view into where things are going wrong so you can fix them as quickly as possible.
We advise running these reports daily, as you don’t want to wait a week to find out that something went wrong. You’ll end up with unsatisfied customers, customer loyalty will drop, and your business will suffer. This is why SLA monitoring is so critical to customer satisfaction.
Benefits of simple service level agreements
Above we mentioned a few of the benefits of SLAs. Here, we will dig into the nitty gritty of how your business can benefit from leveraging them.
Improved customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an incredibly important, but often elusive element of a successful business model. Often, companies focus too heavily on acquiring new customers, and too little on satisfying and retaining existing ones. This can be quite damaging to sustainable business success, both for small business and enterprise companies alike.
Providing solid, clearly-defined SLAs helps improve customer satisfaction by telling customers that you are committing to ensuring their success. Not only that, you are binding yourself to reimburse them if you don’t meet their expectations.
IT service level agreements and other types of SLAs enable you to provide a world-class customer experience. And, according to Walker Info, by 2020, the customer experience will replace price and product as the key brand differentiator. Now is the time to start thinking about how you can define your services through service level agreements, in order to deliver and maintain world-class customer satisfaction levels.
Clearly defined processes
Without SLAs in place, you are likely to face issues where employees are not sticking to defined processes. One customer support rep might like to do things his way, while another prefers to do things her way.
You can’t have your reps running renegade in every direction doing things their own way. You need established procedures that they are expected to follow. Putting SLAs in place aligns your team around the same processes and ensures that the customer experience is the same every time.
Leaves no room for doubt
SLAs reduce confusion among both your reps and your customers. They provide each of them with a set of guidelines—a roadmap, if you will—that they can follow without any confusion or misunderstanding on either side. It is the final word and allows customers to know exactly what to expect.
SLAs also provide your reps with a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This makes life easier on your reps, as it minimizes situations in which they don’t know how to react in a given scenario. SLAs set out clear guidelines and a path to completing them.
Improves first call resolution rate
First call resolution rate refers to your ability to resolve a customer issue on the first try. It means not having to go back and forth with a customer multiple times to resolve their issue. It is a giant headache for a customer to call support, then have to wait days for an issue to be resolved.
Tickets often get bounced around to different reps while the support team tries to find the right person to resolve the issue. Having to adhere to a simple service level agreement makes your team more aware of response times and pushes them to resolve issues on the first attempt.
This is made even easier when you can leverage dedicated support groups. The more diverse your company and its product offerings are, the more diverse your customer support team must be. Dedicated support groups allow you to segment out groups of customers and the associated support reps that support them into silos.
This means that when a customer calls in that uses a certain product, you can automatically route them to the reps that are best equipped to support them. This is easily done with system tags that let you label contacts based on various attributes, like product used, language spoken, etc.
A simple service level agreement lets you track where certain guidelines are being broken. With customer support analytics, all of that analysis is automated. This allows you to focus on higher-value work and simply check in on your dashboard to see where SLAs are not being met.
The ability to maintain insight into SLAs and their outcomes provides a great amount of transparency to a company’s ability to consistently meet SLAs. When they are not being met, you can see where and why, allowing you to engage in an exercise of constant performance improvement.
Improves support performance
This one kind of goes without saying, but when your reps have strict contracts that they must adhere to, they will be much more self-aware of the quality of their output. This is especially true when there are penalties involved in breaking SLAs. In addition to penalties that force your company to reimburse customers for breaking SLAs, you can also implement penalties for employees who break them.
You don’t want to be draconian when penalizing your employees. You just want to provide a nudge that motivates them to hit their SLAs every time. Form them in a way that encourages staffers to meet SLAs, and even consider rewarding them when they go X amount of time without breaking one. This approach has been shown to motivate reps to work harder, and continually improve the support they provide.
Can differentiate you from the competition
Let’s use an example to explain this benefit. Let’s say you have a competitor called Company X. Company X provides their service at a slightly lower price than you do, meaning that many consumers look to them first. However, despite the difference in price point, Company X is not willing to sign an SLA that defines the parameters around the service they provide.
On the other hand, you do provide SLAs, which gives potential customers peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong, you have committed—by contract—to resolve the issue. This makes you a more reliable business in the mind of the consumer. It also can help to build brand loyalty and extend your brand awareness.
Service level agreements provide clarity for both your team and your customers. They lay out the processes that define what kind of service you provide, which helps your team stay on track and provide a consistently positive customer experience. They also provide assurance to your customers around what they can expect from you in various situations.
As mentioned above, a simple service level agreement is a highly effective way of increasing and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers purchase more, recommend your brand to their friends and colleagues, stick around longer, and are more loyal to your brand. In short, SLAs can reduce customer churn while raising satisfaction levels. This is incredibly important when you consider the following statistics:
It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. (Source: Invesp)
Existing customers will spend 67% more on a given company than new ones. (Source: Business.com)
80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of its existing customers. (Source: Gartner Group)
Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% will increase profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%. (Source: Bain & Company)
SLAs lend credibility to your brand and the service you provide. They formalize expectations around the service you deliver, which makes life easier on everyone involved. By following the basic steps mentioned above, you will be able to accomplish all of that and more. Plus, you will reap all the benefits discussed above, allowing you to elevate your customer support presence from ordinary to exceptional. If you are not using SLAs today, now is the time to start.
Are you using SLAs? Do you have any anecdotes that will help your peers better implement and maintain compliance with their SLAs? If so, please share with us in the comments section below !
Influencer marketing has been gaining steam over the last few years. More marketers are realizing the value that an influencer can bring to the table. They normally have a significant following on social media or their blog. If you can tap into that and generate relationships with influencers, it will help extend the reach of your brand exponentially. Below, we share tips to drive engagement and ROI by leveraging influencer marketing. But first, let’s start with some basics.
What is the difference between an influencer and an advocate?
An influencer is well known in your market and can influence the buying decisions of potential consumers. They have widely-read blogs and large followings on social media channels. If you can form relationships with them, you have the potential of them sharing your content on social media, co-authoring content, and cross-promoting the results of your collaborative work. If you can access their influencer network, your brand exposure will greatly expand.
An advocate is an everyday person who loves your brand and is willing to share their positive experiences with their colleagues and friends. Advocates can be your customers, your employees, or anyone else who admires your brand and is willing to put their reputation on the line to promote it. Learn more about creating brand advocates.
Tips for driving engagement through influencer marketing
The importance of influencer marketing can’t be stressed enough. According to a survey by Tomoson, businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. You can see the potential ROI involved. Let’s discuss influencer marketing strategy and dig into some tips to help you realize such an ROI through a killer influencer program or campaign.
1. Define your objectives and plan
Don’t jump in head first without laying out a plan of attack. You need to define your objectives, your methodology, which types of influencers you want to approach, how you will approach them, etc. It’s best to start with the desired result and work backward from there.
Ask yourself the questions that will help you define your approach and plan of attack. What can you offer this influencer that will provide real value and motivate them to work with you? Who will determine which influencers are right for your brand and who will manage those relationships? What do you ultimately want from them? Where are the best places to engage them? What are they passionate about? What kind of following do they have?
Asking these kinds of questions will help you create a roadmap that will guide you through the process of identifying the right influencers, engaging them, and forming a mutually beneficial relationship.
2. Beware of the hustler
The internet is awash with self-proclaimed experts at X, Y, or Z. The more they need to yell about how great they are, the less value they will probably bring you. A true influencer does what she does because she genuinely has a passion for a specific topic or market. In other words, a real influencer knows their own value and doesn’t have to shout about it. Those are the influencers you want to go after.
A study by Tapinfluence and Altimeter, illustrated in this awesome infographic on influencer marketing, reports that 69.4% of influencers chose to be influencers so they could earn revenue. Sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, doesn’t it? They are not in it to educate and share expertise; they are in it for the money. They often buy followers to appear more popular than they are, among other tactics, to boost their reputation. They appear to be top influencers but are really just hustling.
So always be wary of “influencers” like this. You’ll know very quickly once you start a conversation whether you’re dealing with a hustler or a genuine influencer.
3. Identify the best influencers for your needs
Are you a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? Your level of brand awareness will certainly determine who you look to engage with as a brand influencer. If you have a huge presence in your market and a massive following on social media, it’s possible influencers will be seeking you out.
However, most of the time it’s the opposite. Smaller and growing businesses have a much greater need to find influencers than enterprise level businesses. But, it’s a spectrum, and no matter where you land on it, you need to be aware of who you are and how important you are in order to identify the influencers who will most likely engage with you. If you represent a local television station, it’s unlikely that Oprah will respond to your outreach.
Finding the right influencers is a challenge to be sure. That same study by Tapinfluence and Altimeter found that 67.6% of marketers consider finding relevant influencers their largest influencer marketing challenge. Consider your market, where you stand in it, and look for influencers who align with that.
4. Engage on social media
Social media influencer marketing has also gained steam recently. Once you identify an influencer you want to engage with, social media is one of the best ways to start a dialogue with them. You can do this in a variety of ways:
Comment on their posts
Share their posts
Compliment them on the material they share from their blog
Cite them in a blog of your own and tag them when you post to social media
Include a compliment in your post, such as: “check out our new blog with some great insights we learned from Influencer X.”
They will start to take notice, and you may just open the door to leveraging their social influence.
Eventually, if things go well, you will be able to cross-promote your brand and theirs on social media. This is becoming increasingly important, as more than a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds say social media is their main source of news (more than television). Those are your potential customers—and an increasingly important consumer demographic—so make efforts to engage on social media.
You can also monitor social media for mentions of your brand with social listening tools, which alert you any time someone mentions your brand. This can also help you find influencers on social media. Whether they are Instagram influencers, LinkedIn, or Twitter influencers does not matter—as long as they use channels your prospects look to for information. Social listening increases ROI, so be sure to leverage it when looking for a new social media influencer.
5. Understand the value you can provide them
Once you identify influencers and start to engage with them, you will start gearing up for “the ask” (i.e., pitching them the idea of collaboration). But before you can do so, you must understand what kind of value you can offer them in exchange for their collaboration.
Assuming you’re approaching someone who is not hustling, the idea of a mutually-beneficial exchange is feasible. You need to know what you have that they need. If you have a well-known blog, they might be interested in drafting a blog post so they can tap into your audience. This, in turn, will work both ways once the relationship is solidified.
Another great approach is offering to interview them and present it as a podcast. Influencers love to talk about what they do, and an interview gives them the floor to promote themselves and what they care about. It is free advertising for them, and a great tactic to engage influencers.
6. Don’t go for quick wins, go for long-term relationships
Enter stage left: The Hustler. They want to do a quick exchange for cash. They will post your blog article and share it for a fee. They take the money and run. That’s not what you want. A true influencer relationship is one that is nurtured over time and is mutually beneficial. You want to establish a rapport with this person and continue to collaborate with them over the long term.
This becomes easier when you use an all-in-one CRM to store information about each influencer. And because those all-in-one solutions—like Agile CRM, for example—offer full marketing automation capabilities, you can essentially use it as an influencer marketing platform. Gather incremental information about them and maintain insight into their interests, passions, areas of expertise, and any other data you want to store. This allows you to tailor your conversations with them in a very precise way.
7. Do your research and tailor your outreach
Every influencer is unique, with unique needs, interests, and a unique tone in the way they communicate to their following. Before you reach out to make the ask, be sure to do your homework. Understand the characteristics of the influencer in question, such as:
Where does their passion lie?
How formal or informal is their tone?
What do they discuss?
How do they engage their audience?
Which social channels do they use most?
What are their needs and how can you appeal to them?
Armed with this level of insight into who they are and what they care about, you will be able to better engage them, whether that is via email, social media, etc. Top social media influencers can be worth their weight in gold if you manage the relationship properly. According to Twitter, nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer. This further drives home the potential ROI you can generate through effective influencer marketing.
8. Nurture the relationship
Once you’ve engaged with an influencer and they have agreed to collaborate, you can start to benefit from your relationship with them. But don’t throw your hat up in the air and celebrate your success just yet. If you play your cards right, you can continue to benefit from this relationship over the long term.
Just like plants need water and sun to survive, any relationship—whether it is personal or professional—needs to be nurtured to thrive. Check in with them periodically to see how things are going. Constantly brainstorm about new and innovative ideas for collaboration and pitch them to your influencer. When they put out great content of their own, write them to tell them how incredible it is. Nurture the relationship, and you’ll reap the rewards over and over.
9. Get the word out
Now that you have finally identified, engaged, and received confirmation that an influencer wants to collaborate with you, it’s time to think about how you are going to broadcast the results of that collaboration. Did you author a blog on their guest site? Blast it all over social media and tag the influencer, so their audience sees that you are working with them and becomes aware of (and hopefully interested in) your brand.
Any product of your collaboration should be shouted from the rooftops. Share anything and everything on social media. Tell your customers and prospects about your influencer relationships in your . If you co-create something of exceptional value, you can even draft a press release about it—just be sure that it’s newsworthy and you have their permission to do so.
After all that arduous work identifying, researching, engaging, and collaborating with an influencer, you deserve to reap the rewards of all your efforts.
When you get into influencer marketing, follow the tips above, and you’ll be sure to realize success. Use a CRM as an influencer marketing platform to track everything you learn about the influencer. Be wary of those that are just in it to make a buck. Treat the influencer with the respect they deserve so they will take you seriously.
Find a way to offer them value in the form of something they need but don’t have. Nurture your relationship like it was a rare orchid that needs constant attention. And above all, once you have successfully produced something of value in collaboration with an influencer, tell the entire world about it. Do that, and you will benefit from exposure to their following, which, when done right, can more than double the exposure of your brand.
Do you have any influencer marketing tips that have worked exceptionally well for you? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
If your business provides technical or customer support, odds are that you need a help desk ticketing system to help streamline and automate the time-consuming aspects of customer support. Remote help desk software provides you with the tools to accomplish your customer support goals, maintain satisfied customers, and resolve help desk tickets faster.
Great customer support separates decent companies from excellent companies. A positive customer support experience is a crucially important piece of the customer journey. But how can you be sure you are using your remote help desk software to the fullest of its extent? What are the benefits of doing so? Let’s dig in to shed some light on this.
What is remote help desk software?
Remote help desk software lets you automate the receipt of incoming help desk tickets, the processing of those tickets, and tracks the results of your customer support efforts. It keeps everything tidy and in order, drastically improving the organization of your tickets and customer support data. It helps you keep track of where your tickets are in the queue, and how long it is taking to resolve them.
Plus, it automates the majority of the ticket administration process. When an incoming ticket arrives, it is automatically entered into the system, routed to the appropriate rep, and populated with details about the case—such as the customer’s name, the product they use, and ticket priority.
Because everything is tracked so well, it’s easy to quickly see which tickets are the highest priority and focus on those first. You can set alerts and reminders for high priority tickets to ensure they don’t go unaddressed. Automatic tracking also increases the integrity and reliability of your data by removing the potential for human error during data entry.
What benefits should you be seeing?
In order to ensure that your remote help desk software is doing the trick, you should evaluate your use of it to ensure you are receiving the benefits it should be providing. Here are a few to look for:
Maximum customer satisfaction
When tickets are resolved faster, customers are able to work more successfully with your product or service, increasing customer loyalty over the long term. When ticket backlogs are eliminated, and reps can provide a more personalized support experience, customers feel valued, and customer satisfaction increases.
Customers will view your business as well-equipped to support them into the future, which increases customer retention. According to Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% will increase profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%.
Faster resolution times and a reduced backlog
Because a help desk ticketing system automates so many manual, time-consuming elements of customer support, it frees up time for your reps, letting them focus more energy on addressing customer issues and resolving tickets faster. When your team can move through and resolve more tickets in less time, you see a reduction in your ticket backlog.
The longer customers have to wait for a response, the lower their satisfaction level will be because it reflects how much you value your customers’ time. According to Forrester Research, 77% of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
Helping customers feel their voices are being heard
It’s imperative to remember to empathize with customers and understand their perspective. In the eyes of the customer, the company works for them. If they feel the company doesn’t hear their concerns about a product or service, they will rightfully be frustrated and unhappy. Successful companies encourage customers to voice their opinions and view incoming customer feedback as a learning opportunity and a chance for self-improvement.
Use your remote help desk system to collect customer feedback after cases are closed. You can also use your service desk system to create a knowledge base that lets customers find answers to their own problems without having to call you for help. This reduces the number of calls you must field. Plus, you can ask for knowledge base feedback and use that to improve your help desk content.
Personalized support and better communication
With remote help desk software, your team is able to give more one-on-one attention to clients with support issues. It helps customers feel valued, which breeds strong brand loyalty. Moreover, if your system links to a CRM—such is the case with Agile CRM—your company can store loads of personal information about each individual contact. This includes everything from basic contact information to buying history, web browsing activity, and past support tickets.
Armed with this level of insight, your team better understands who each customer is, and can interact and communicate with them in a more personal way. This will further increase customer satisfaction as it displays that you actually care about your customers and their success using your product.
A help desk ticketing system does the work of multiple employees, meaning you can maintain a smaller support team, while simultaneously improving results. If you can reduce the size of your team by one-third—for example—the resources freed up can be applied to other areas of your business. Plus, when you can use a help desk ticketing system for free, it costs you nothing to make that staffing reduction.
Growing businesses need to be as frugal as possible with their resources in order to grow and scale at the rate they need to. Remote help desk software helps you achieve this.
Being more available to customers
If a customer needs to contact your company, it’s important that they are able to do so with ease. Nothing makes a customer feel undervalued more than reaching out and not seeing a response for days on end—especially if they have a support issue. The best thing you can do to make yourself available to customers is to provide them with a variety of ways to reach out:
Provide live chat support: Many consumers today—and in particular, millennials—will look for a live chat feature on a company’s website to connect immediately. Many times, potential support issues can be resolved in a few minutes with a live chat, which reduces the effort customers must commit to getting issues resolved.
Offer email and telephone support: It’s important to provide both, because each customer’s preferred communication method will vary, and the company needs to be available to them all, on the medium they prefer. According to Accenture, 51% of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication.
Leverage online appointment scheduling: This works as follows: the employee opens your online calendar then selects the time slots when they are available. Then they provide customers with a link to their online calendar. Customers access it online, select the time slot that’s most convenient for them, and book it themselves.
Improving first call resolution rate
First call resolution means that an incoming customer support call is fully resolved on the first attempt, without having to escalate the issue or troubleshoot and call the customer back. Just a 1% improvement in first call resolution is equal to $276,000 in annual operational savings for the average call center, according to SQM Group. Here are a few best practices for improving first call resolution using remote help desk software:
Use dedicated help desk groups: With dedicated help desk groups, customers are placed into support groups, based on an attribute such as the product they own. Then, the only support reps assigned to support those groups are those that are experts with those respective products.
Utilize system tags for segmentation: With systems tags, you can create groups that are based on geography, language, time zone, or any other attribute tracked in the CRM solution. Segmentation improves first call resolution exponentially.
Leverage help desk reporting to improve performance: It’s easy to monitor ticket resolution times using customer support metrics and analytics. This helps users identify areas that need improvement, and individuals who need help to improve their performance.
Additional features you should look for
In addition to the features mentioned above, which provide the key benefits you should look for in a remote help desk software system, there are extra value-adding features you should look for. These features set a standard help desk system apart from an exceptional one.
Service level agreements
Service level agreement (SLA) functionality is one reason that Agile CRM is great customer service software for growing businesses. SLAs are contracts that stipulate that certain requirements must be met in the relationship between the customer and your company.
They help you set clear expectations for your support team and your customers, providing clarity around what customers can expect and giving your support team goals to work toward.
For example, you could have an SLA that requires customer support to reply to any help desk ticket in a specified amount of time. You can use them to track performance against KPIs and analyze results to continuously improve your customer support.
Canned responses are pre-drafted emails that you set up in your system and send automatically to address certain situations. For example, if someone submits a case via email about a common issue faced by customers, you can send a canned response that informs them how to resolve it.
They can also be leveraged to send follow up emails after a case is resolved. Use them to tell the customer that the case is closed and provide information about how to reach out with any questions. Canned responses save time for your customer support team and expedite the response to the customer.
Ticket labels allow you to categorize tickets based on commonalities relevant to your business. Then you can automate workflows based on those labels to streamline your customer support.
For example, if you receive many help desk cases around a certain issue, you can place a label on that case so that it gets routed to the appropriate rep who can best resolve the issue.
Ticket labels further expedite the resolution of open tickets and save time for your reps, so they can focus more energy on supporting customers and less on administration.
Dashboard smart views
You often need to get insight into how your customer support team is operating, or the results they are producing. Smart views allow you to customize your customer service dashboard with the metrics and analytics that you need to see on a daily basis. You can configure your smart views to display graphs, charts, and other types of data representation.
Smart views are extremely helpful in maintaining a constant view into how you are moving the needle and where things are going wrong. You can get at-a-glance views into metrics like tickets closed, time to resolve tickets, first response rate, number of tickets in the queue, and any other metric that you need to track in order to make data-driven decisions.
Remote help desk software allows you to deliver world-class customer service, improve customer satisfaction, and increase the efficiency and productivity of your support team. Because remote help desk systems are SaaS-based, you can access them from anywhere, at any time, as long as you have an internet connection.
Being able to check in on important metrics or respond to a customer support case while traveling or working from home elevates your ability to support your customers. It is a top priority that you are able to ensure that your customers are successfully using your product or service. If they can’t use your product to make their job easier, they will likely stop using it, and eventually, you’ll lose them as customers.
Remote help desk software ensures that you resolve customer issues as quickly as possible, which boosts brand loyalty. It gives customers the sense that you care about their success and that your relationship with them is a partnership. This will go a long way to helping you grow your business and maintain a positive reputation in the market.
Do you have any tips for maximizing the use of your remote help desk software? Share them in the comments section below!
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