Sure, your smartphone assistant Siri can come in handy with her real-time directions, immediate answers to questions and ability to remind us of important daily events.
But it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which she’s engaging enough to convince us to buy a certain product or service. As legendary advertising man William Bernbach once said, persuasion is not a science but an art. And that’s one reason we still need human beings who can converse on a personal level, provide emotional insight when needed and effectively close sales based on customers’ verbal and nonverbal cues.
“Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction, and often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help and service they need,” notes Robert Wollan of Accenture Strategy on news site CIO.com. In a recent Accenture survey, 77 percent of customers said they’d rather get advice from or solve a problem with a person than interact over digital channels, and almost 46 percent said they’d pay more for goods and services if that meant face-to-face service.
Other research further reinforces that association between human service and sales. Customers who reach a firm by phone are 10 to 15 times more likely to convert (on average) than customers who fill out a web form instead, says research firm BIA/Kelsey. The same study found that, across industries, 29 percent of inbound calls overall lead to a sale, appointment or reservation.
In many cases that’s because such callers have already searched for a company on their mobile devices and find it easy to click to call; after all, “Mobile users are more ready-to-buy, in the right location and with a device whose core function is to make phone calls,” the study explains. But another factor is the presence of a human on the other end who can greet the caller warmly, answer his questions and concerns and use powers of persuasion to drive the conversion. That’s proven true at major venues like Zappos, where the average lifetime value of a customer rises five or six times once they interact with live employees.
A few suggestions for taking advantages of that human connection:
- Train customer-facing employees. Arm call center workers with scripts and have them practice effective (but humanized) sales and service techniques that correspond with typical customer conversations.
- Make your phone number memorable and prominent in all marketing venues. Ensure your customers know you want to be contacted, emphasizing that “live representatives are standing by” if that’s true.
- Optimize data-gathering and call-facilitating tools. Use every digital tool at your disposal for identifying and analyzing incoming callers, including DNI, call tracking, call routing, caller analysis and/or a CRM that can track each customer’s stage in the buying cycle.
- Adopt an omnichannel strategy. Savvy firms are now ensuring customers can contact them by the channels of their choice, based on the customer’s needs, preferences and time schedules.
Computers have revolutionized the world, but still can’t replace the emotional insight and perceptiveness of real human beings. Don’t leave human employees out of the equation when strategizing how to maximize sales among your wide range of customers.
Dial800 can advise you on how to make live calling centers work for your marketing campaign.