BIA/Kelsey Report: Phone Calls to Local Businesses To Double by End of 2013

Late last week BIA/Kelsey, who provides provides market research, announced the findings of an extensive study about mobile marketing and local businesses. (They included LogMyCalls in their research, by the way, which is awesome).

The report proclaims that phone calls to local businesses are going to ‘explode’ over the next several years. Phone calls to small businesses will double by the end of 2013. Most of the increase will be from mobile devices after a mobile search.

The Twitterverse reacted to the BIA/Kelsey report with some skepticism, claiming that increased mobile phone usage will not result in more phone calls to small businesses. Those skeptics are wrong. BIA/Kelsey is right.

Given the skepticism in some circles, why is BIA/Kelsey making these claims? Upon what are they basing these claims? BIA/Kelsey says there are two reasons for claiming that phone calls to small businesses (especially local businesses) are going to increase so dramatically: 1) increased mobile penetration and mobile marketing, and 2) advances in call analytics.

Mobile Marketing and Mobile Penetration

For the first time, more than half of all cell phones sold are smart phones.  This has been a recent development, changing in only the last few months. And every shred of research is showing that mobile users—especially mobile searchers—want to call businesses after conducting a search on a mobile device. We’ve quoted this statistic a lot, but it bears repeating: 61% of local mobile searches result in an immediate phone call (Google). 52% of all mobile ads result in a phone call (xAd).

That means that as mobile penetration becomes more intense (happening now), and as mobile search surpasses desktop search (by the end of 2013), phone calls are going to become more common. BIA/Kelsey is, at least, saying that these factors will converge to create more phone calls for small businesses. That means that businesses need to prepare for phone calls, track phone calls and close phone calls.

Call Analytics

Businesses receiving phone is good, but BIA/Kelsey notes that it isn’t enough. Getting information and data out of those calls, used for marketing and sales optimization is critical. Basic call tracking isn’t enough either. Businesses are demanding more data.

That’s why we’re mentioned in this report. We are doing things with phone calls that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

  • Instead of merely tracking which marketing channels are generating calls we can track close rates from each marketing channel.
  • Instead of merely providing geographic data about the caller we can hear the caller and decipher voice intonation and lead quality.
  • Instead of generating calls and hoping those calls turn into closed sales, we can track the performance of phone agents to close more deals and make more money.

When BIA/Kelsey says call analytics, they’re talking about extracting data from phone calls and using that data to improve conversion rates, save money and make more money. This information is going to be even more critical.

Get Ready

The critical thing to remember about this report is simple: calls to every small business will double by the end of next year. That means you better be staffed to take calls, you better track calls and learn how to close calls. So, if you aren’t currently ready to take calls, track calls, or begin mobile marketing, you better get ready. If you don’t, you will be left behind.

4 Ways to Give Employees Feedback

The other day I saw an interview with Magic Johnson. Magic was talking about his coach, Pat Riley. He said that Riley was a great coach because he provided honest feedback. Riley yelled at Magic just like everyone else. He corrected his mistakes and provided honest analysis and feedback.

Now, I’m not insinuating that Magic Johnson or the Los Angeles Lakers were successful only because feedback was given. (Skill had quite a bit to do with it). But what I am suggesting is that a constant stream of objective feedback helps any organization—auto shop or NBA team—improve.

Giving Feedback

If you’re an owner or a manager you have to give feedback to your employees. It is a fact of running a business. If an employee is struggling to treat customers with respect, you need to give feedback. If an employee is failing to book appointments over the phone, you need to give feedback. If an employee is doing a shoddy job, you need to give feedback. If you’re noticing a pattern of laziness or slacking, you need to give feedback.

But here’s the big question: how do you give feedback?

We’re going to provide you with some tips and some real-life examples of how businesses are putting these tips into practice.

Tips for Provide Feedback

1. Provide analysis—not opinion. Opinions can make an employee defensive. Factual analysis is much better than opinion. But here’s the problem: analysis is a lot more difficult to give than an opinion. Why? Because analysis requires standards. It requires previously agreed upon goals and benchmarks. Opinions don’t. For example, if an employee is doing a shoddy job, it is very easy to say ‘’you are doing a bad job.” It is harder to say “You know that we expect this job gets done in 25 minutes. You consistently take around 25 minutes.”

Analysis takes the discussion from “personal” to “factual.”

One of the things tools like LogMyCalls allows you to do is listen to employee customer interactions and then provide objective feedback on those interactions. Customer calls are recorded. Then you can log in and simply listen to the calls and leave feedback about your employee’s phone performance. Did they answer the phone in a cheerful way? Did they make an appointment? These are not subjective opinions, they are questions based in objective analysis.

Additionally, it allows you to set up scorecards and actually grade your employees’ performance on the phone. These scorecards are objective, meaning that analysis, not opinions, are provided.

2. Be Specific – Feedback cannot be general or unfocused. Feedback is effective when—and only when—it is specific.

It is much more effective to say ‘’yesterday I noticed you took a very long lunch, in fact, I’ve noticed that you’ve taken a long lunch every day this week,” than it is to say ‘’you haven’t worked very hard this week.”

It is very effective to say “yesterday I logged in and listened to a call you answered around noon. I noticed that you didn’t ask her to come in to the shop.” However, if you said, ”you don’t do a good job on the phone,” that would be too general and wouldn’t help the employee improve.

When we help companies set up their scorecards we always encourage them to make the grading criteria as specific as possible. For example:

  • Did the employee use his/her name when answering the phone?
  • Did the employee ask for the customer’s name?
  • Did the employee ask an open-ended question to the caller?
  • Did the employee ask the caller directly to make an appointment?

Notice that each of these criteria is very specific. There is no way they could be misinterpreted or confused. The employee either did these things or they didn’t. This is specific, fact-based analysis rather than general opinion.

3. Focus on the Positive – People respond to compliments better than anything else. When was the last time you praised an employee? When was the last time you made them feel like they did a great job? (Most managers can’t remember the last time).

Focusing on the positive will build goodwill with your employees and, in most cases, will get them to work harder.

One of our clients has a reward system built in to their call monitoring and call scoring system. When employees score over 80% on a scorecard for a week they get a giftcard, or the boss buys pizza for the employees. (Our data shows that you are 3 times more likely to get an appointment when a call score is over 80%). You want to incentivize and encourage excellent performance.

Remember, just because you are providing feedback doesn’t mean that feedback has to be negative.

4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. – Why do your employees consistently sound rushed and rude when they’re on the phone with customers? Why are they making mistakes? Before you blow up at them or criticize them, you should think about things from their perspective. Maybe you are understaffed. Maybe you are understaffed at certain times of the day and a simply adjustment of lunch breaks would fix the problem.

Another of our clients in the collision world uses LogMyCalls to help them with staffing. It shows them the ‘Peak Call Times’ during the day. They found that their calls spiked significantly between 11am and noon. Prior to this tool was the hour when many employees were taking breaks and going to lunch. Now, the owner leaves his staff in the business until the afternoon when calls slow down.

Here’s the point: you have provide consistent feedback that is factual and honest. If you don’t, nothing will improve. Ever.

Why Customers Stop Being Customers

Whether you want to admit it or not, your business makes mistakes. Maybe the quality of your work wasn’t up to par (just one time, of course:). Perhaps, your billing was incorrect and your customer was charged too much. Maybe, a job took too long, or there was something wrong with a product you sold your customer.

These things happen to customers of every business. Statistics show that customers are pretty resilient. All of these things are pretty much forgivable. Your customer will forget about billing disputes, quality issues and pretty much everything else you throw at them. But, statistics show they will not forgive you for bad customer service.

86% of people say they’ve stopped doing business with a company because of just one bad customer service experience (up from 69% in 2007) – Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report, 2011). Think about that! Almost 90% of the time customers will not return if they’ve had a bad customer service experience. Wow!

So, why will a customer leave you because of bad customer service and not because of other mistakes your business may make?

Here is the answer:

Customer service is personal. A billing dispute isn’t personal. A missed appointment isn’t personal. A dirty hotel room isn’t personal. Neither is a shoddy job. But, customer service is VERY personal. Customers get upset when they’ve been treated poorly. They take it very personally.

What can you do?

1. Track Customer Service Performance – One of the best ways to do this is with call tracking and call recording. For decades call centers have used call recording to track customer service performance, but now the same technology is available to any business for a low price. You don’t need to install anything or get a new phone system. It is honestly very simple, easy and cheap.

2. Score Customer Service Performance – Scoring calls for customer service performance will help you start to see trends. You can track which employees are good at customer service and which ones are losing your business.

3. Customer Service Training – This training does not need to be an expensive endeavor. It can be as simple as you simply training your employees to sound cheerful on the phone or ask for the caller’s name and use it during the call. Little things like that will cause you—statistically—to lose less business.

4. Hold Employees Accountable – You should have a system in place that rewards good customer service and punishes poor customer service. If you listen to a call and you hear an employee providing excellent customer service compliment the employee. If you use a call recording platform and you hear a bunch of great calls, than you should throw a party for your team or provide incentives of some sort.

How Do We Know?

We record tens of thousands of customer service and sales calls a week through our call tracking platform. These calls produce valuable marketing data (call tracking analytics, lead scoring, etc.), but they also produce vital customer service data. We listen to these calls and then score them for quality and training purposes. Our scores show us (and our clients) one thing: companies treat their customers very poorly in most cases. This is not an opinion. It is fact. It is based on actual data our system pulls from actual calls.

We also hear reactions from customers who’ve been treated poorly. They take bad customer service very, very personally. If a customer is treated poorly by you or your employees they will not forget it. They have been personally offended. You have made the customer feel dumb, disrespected or angry. They’ve been frustrated and upset. They won’t forget it. That is why, 86% of the time, they won’t return.

Mobile Marketing Tsunami: 4 Reasons Mobile Is Taking Over

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on smart phones and instant information, business owners will need to direct more of their attention to mobile marketing as a means of reaching their target market. With useful search results and actionable business intelligence, mobile marketing is going to annihilate other marketing methods that have been around for far longer.

Why will mobile marketing overtake other popular marketing strategies? Here are a few facts to help explain why marketing to mobile customers is so important to your business.

1. Mobile Marketing is more effective than any other marketing method ever. For starters, people have their smart phones with them all the time and say they are reachable all the time. 91% of people have their mobile phones with arms-reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Is there any other marketing method that provides access to targets 91% of the time? No.

2. Mobile coupon redemption rates are significantly higher (10 times higher) than standard coupon redemption rates (Source: Borrell Associates). Additional studies show that 90% of mobile searchers take action, 70% take action within an hour (Source: Google).

3. Mobile users don’t want to miss out just because they are out and about. They don’t use their mobile phones to do research. They use their mobile phones to buy. Over half of mobile searches lead to purchase (Source: Google). Your mobile customers are the ones who want to snap up your great deals.

4. Mobile marketing is more targeted than any other advertising method. You combine the knowledge of online marketing (cookies, past sites visited and history) with location. Mobile marketing will become more specific, more targeted, more immediate and more powerful than it is even today.

Estimates show that by 2016 mobile marketing will account for 15.2 percent of global online ad spend to become a 22.4 billion dollar piece of the marketing pie. Experts believe that between 60% and 70% of Americans will have smartphones by 2016. The mobile audience will become increasingly savvy, increasingly focused and increasingly ready to buy immediately.

For many business owners, the mobile marketing tsunami is just beginning and the winds of profitable change are starting to sweep through. What do you have planned to stay on top of the growing wave of mobile marketing?

5 Ways to Get More Customers from Your Website

Every small business wishes they could drive more traffic to their website and get more customers. The big question is how do you drive more profits from your website? There are several ways to convert more web visitors into paying customers. Here are 5 ideas to try.

1. Improve Your Web Design

Has your website been updated since 1998? If it hasn’t, stop reading and fix your website before you do anything else. Seriously, your website design should be updated every couple of years.

2. Put a Phone Number PROMINENTLY on Your Website

I am routinely stunned by the number of companies that don’t have a phone number prominently displayed on their website. Sometimes they’ll bury the phone number in the ‘Contact Us’ section. Retail chains will sometimes force visitors to click on ‘Locations’ before they see a phone number.

Why would you make it difficult for someone to find your phone number? Phone calls are the most valuable contact a customer can make. If someone calls they are more likely to buy from you. Why would you hide a phone number? Instead of hiding it, you should put your phone number in a prominently location ‘above the fold’ of the website.

This phone number should be a local or toll free number provided by a call tracking company. This will allow you to track how many people call that phone number and help you figure out if your website is producing profits for you.

3. Make it Clear What you Do

Have you ever been to a website and after 2 or 3 minutes you still can’t tell what the company does? It is a common problem. Make sure your website clearly tells visitors what you offer.

4. Track Visitors and Calls to Your Website

We have a lot of small business clients. The other day I was talking with one and he said ‘I don’t even know why I have a website, it doesn’t work.’ I asked him why he thought it didn’t work. He said that his customers are usually walk-in customers or they find him in the phonebook. They don’t visit his website.

Here’s the problem: he literally has no idea what he’s talking about because he isn’t using a free web analytics tool like Google Analytics.

If you have a website, you should be tracking web traffic as well as tracking leads from phone calls generated by that website. If you aren’t tracking those things, you shouldn’t have a website.

5. Add Valuable Content

If you want Google to like your website and improve your search ranking, and if you want potential customers to buy from you after visiting your website, you need to create valuable content on your website. This doesn’t mean that you need to turn into an expert blogger. It does mean that you should start to improve your site content. Write interesting content or pay someone else to do it.

23 Places to Market your Phone Number

Customers are more likely to buy if they call you than if they visit your website, so here’s the big question: where should you advertise your phone number?

1.  Your Website – This is the most obvious place to put your phone number. Put it in a prominent place on your website. You would think that putting a phone number on your website would be a no-brainer. Well, it’s surprising then, how few people have brains, because there are many websites that do not have prominently displayed phone numbers on them.

2.  Your Facebook Page – What does all this ‘Like me on Facebook’ nonsense actually do for you? Seriously? Is a business Facebook page worth investing in or spending time on? Find out, by putting a phone number on your Facebook page. See if anyone calls you.

3.  Your LinkedIn Page – Does your company have a LinkedIn Profile? If not, you should create one. Once you do, put a phone number on that page.

4.  Your Business Cards – Put phone tracking numbers on your business cards. Companies spend thousands of dollars a year on business cards. They hand them out to leads and put them in jars at restaurants. Are they effective? Do they generate phone calls?

5.  Your Brochures and Literature – You probably have a brochure you give prospects, or a letterhead with a phone number. You should put phone numbers on each of those things. Because, what’s the point of that nice letter you sent them if they don’t call you?

6.  Fliers – Maybe you’re a business that attends tradeshows, or you host community events, or you have fliers available in your store. Every business has used fliers. Was it a waste of money? Did anyone who picked up a flier actually call you? If not…why would you create fliers in the future?

7.  Goodies – Every Christmas, millions of businesses send out a bunch of junk to leads and current customers. They send stuff like calendars, pens, mousepads, etc. Why not put a phone number on those and see if anyone actually calls because they looked up and saw your 2012 calendar?

8.  Direct Mailer – Even as the economy becomes increasingly paperless, direct mail ads are actually gaining popularity in some sectors. Direct mail gets your business in front of consumers immediately. But does it work? You should put a tracking phone number on your direct mailers.

9.  Valpak – These are the little coupon books that come in the mail.

10.  Classified – Many businesses run classified ads in newspapers and magazines. They should all have a tracking phone number. Why? Because you don’t want to waste money running advertising that doesn’t work.

11.  Newspaper Inserts – Every local and national paper has ads and coupons that pull out of the paper. Put a tracking number on these.

12.  Magazine and Print Advertising – This is your standard, old-school advertising. Most businesses have run a print ad somewhere at some point. Did the print ad work? Did it generate phone calls? Use a tracking number and find out.

13.  Billboards – What’s better than a giant billboard with your logo and a tracking phone number? Not much.

14.  Craigslist – It’s easy, it’s free and you can put a phone number on the listing. (Yes, a tracking phone number).

15.  BBB, Chamber of Commerce, etc. – Most businesses pay to be a part of local or national directories. Is it worth it? Find out with tracking phone numbers on those listings.

16.  TV or Radio– We had a client who had, for years, had advertised on TV and radio. He spent $4000 – $5000 every few months on a fresh batch of TV and radio ads. He assumed they were working. Then he bought some tracking phone numbers from us. Well, it turned out that his 6 radio ads and 2 TV ads didn’t generate one phone call! Not one! You’re welcome. (Now, we have other clients that say TV and radio ads generate lots of phone calls. Again, they know this because they have tracking numbers on these ads.

17.  Emails – Many businesses send regular emails. These could be newsletters or some sort of a nurture campaign. Why not put a tracking phone number on these emails to see if anyone picks up the phone to call?

18.  Newsletters – You know that quarterly newsletter you send to everyone on your mailing list. Does it do any good? Do they read it? Put a phone number in the newsletter to find out.

19.  Yellow Page Listings – Listing your business in the Yellow Pages is a necessity. Why? Because many people still use the phone book and an increasing number of people search the yellow pages online. When they see your business, they see a phone number too.

20.  Online Listings – We are writing entire articles about online listings and local SEO. There’s a lot to talk about here. But, suffice it to say that when someone types ‘tires San Jose’ into Google, they had better see your shop come up. And there had better be a tracking phone number associated with it.

21.  Internet Banner Ads – Most medium and large companies run Internet banner ads. You could put a phone number directly on them or, using a sophisticated tool called Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI), a click on a banner ad would actually generate a specific tracking number on your website. Let me say that a different way. A unique—and fully trackable—phone number is actually automatically generated on a website depending upon how the website is accessed. What does that mean? It means that you could actually see how many people clicked on your banner ad and then called you. Wow.

22.  Facebook Ads – Using the same principles and DNI technology as Internet banner ads you can actually buy ads on Facebook and measure the calls that each specific ad generates.

23.  PPC Campaigns – Google Adwords – You could place a phone number within the Google Ad itself or, with DNI, generate a unique number on your website. This allows you to track how effective your Google Adwords campaign is.

Top 5 Reasons Marketing Doesn’t Produce Sales

Your marketing is working. You are running an effective Google Adwords campaign. Your social media efforts are generating leads. Your Google Pagerank is increasing. And, you are attending tradeshows and utilizing local SEO.

You are a medium-sized business and these advertising methods are generating 30 – 40 BtoB leads a day. Each of these prospects filled out a form asking for a product demo, more information or free content. They contacted you first.

Sounds great doesn’t it?

But here’s the problem: your revenue is not increasing. Your sales numbers are not going up. Why? There are only five possible reasons your great marketing is not producing great sales numbers.

Possible Problems

  1. Bait and Switch – One of the most obvious reasons leads don’t convert into sales is because the ads promise something different than what you actually offer.
  2. You are ignoring the phone – Perhaps you didn’t know this (or perhaps you did), but conversion rates are 70% higher for a prospect that calls your business, than one who fills out an internet form. Translation: you are much more likely to make the sale when someone calls you on the phone.

With that stunning statistic in mind, here’s a question: why don’t you integrate phone numbers into Google Adwords, social media, tradeshows and local SEO? It seems like a reasonable question, right? If someone is more likely to buy from you when they call…why wouldn’t you want them to call?

  1. Your process is poor – What happens to the leads when you get them? Are they assigned to someone? Are they easily organized and accessible in a CRM like Zoho or SalesForce? Or, on the other hand, are they lost in the process somewhere? Do your leads escape?
  2. Your sales reps are wussies – Far too many sales reps are simply afraid to contact leads that are not ‘golden.’ For example: leads that signed up for a free eBook, White Paper or newsletter should be contacted by a sales rep. Too often sales reps overlook leads that aren’t ‘hot.’ They overlook these leads because they view them as a waste of time, or because they are scared of calling a ‘cool’ lead. They are wussies.
  3. Your reps stink on the phone – This is the most common reason leads don’t turn into sales. Prospects call your business. They inquire about pricing or ask about additional information. Or maybe they even view a product demo. But they never buy.

This is bad. Why does this happen? Because most businesses expend resources creating leads and then fail to effectively field leads. They fail to adequately train their reps to sell effectively. And they fail to hold them accountable using tools like call recording and call scoring.

In short: companies spend money to get the phone to ring but then fail to effectively sell when it does.

Don’t Forget the Phone

Businesses that forget the phone will find that improved marketing results do not necessarily result in improved sales performance. Don’t forget to market phone numbers and don’t forget to track, record and improve phone selling performance.

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