ALL THE NEWS THAT’S NEW WITH DAVINCI

LATEST POSTS

Handling Reputation Assaults in a Social Media Driven Universe

Social Media can be the ultimate, free, sales and business enhancer, or it can be a killer. Many claim that social media is democratic and fair, but is it for business? The answer is complicated, but social media is probably not as fair as we’d like. Consider that just as easily as someone can post an honest, accurate review (be it favorable or not) that could be valuable for other consumers contemplating a purchase, someone can just as easily twist things to use it as a bulletin board for posing unfair, nefarious or counter-to-reality reviews. These purposefully negative reviews distort and can sometimes sink the image, reputation, and ultimately the success of the entity or person being reviewed.

Let’s face it – social media disasters happen. Some people use social media to demonize a competitor, or simply someone they don’t like or had a bad experience with. It runs the gamut from posting a negative reaction to an actual experience where a bad review was unfounded, to viciously destroying a reputation when a true reviewable activity didn’t even take place, all out of malicious intent.

In a free society that honors freedom of speech, bad-mouthing has always been possible. It’s just that now, with the advent of social media, plus practically everyone having the ability to instantly read or write a review in the palm of their hand, the impact of such social media driven reviews is more profound, lasting and widespread. We now need to have a mature and realistic strategy in place to overcome this potentially business and reputation killing activity.

The best defense starts with the acknowledgment and acceptance that such debilitating practices such as unfounded social media trashing is a reality in today’s world; that isn’t going to change or go away anytime soon. We hope that it doesn’t happen, but we need to be ready for it in case it does. Make sure you’re up to speed on every place that a negative or nefarious review can possibly pop up online, and be ready to deal with it if it does. You have to spot it quickly, and then act quickly. Emotions will figure into your actions – no one wants to hear bad reviews about them or their company, especially if they’re not true. But don’t get sucked into the fretting or sulking about the social post. Doing so can slow your response. Get in motion right away to offset the effects of a bad social media commentary.

Consider if there is any legitimate learning or a teachable moment behind the review or criticism. Maybe there is some degree of validity to the post? Maybe there’s a blind spot that someone is pointing out that you should take to heart. If there is, and you approach it maturely and with an open mind, the review may be the best thing that ever happened to you – it’s uber-valuable, free, focus-group feedback at its purest and finest.

Maybe the post is unfair, off-the-wall stuff posted to cause damage by a rival or miscreant. Could be. Lord knows there are no-goodniks galore out there who have found an effective weapon in their arsenal to cause havoc and pain. It takes all kinds in this world. Regardless of whether it’s an unfair or unfounded review, or someone up to no good, you have to try and get out in front of the potential damage that such a review can cause. You need to respond quickly – and do so in a manner that does not come across as being defensive or retaliatory. Retaliation doesn’t work well in business in a PR context; in fact, it can make matters worse if you are perceived as a counter puncher.

You need to craft a written response on the social media stream that will be seen as mature, reasonable, and thoughtful. If there is some validity, concede that improvement may be needed, and that you will address the issue. Also note your appreciation for the feedback. You need to respond by being above the fray and not stoop to a lower common denominator. You need to manage the damage and take control of the dialogue by choosing your words and reaction wisely, respectfully and maturely, even in the situation that the criticisms are uncalled for.

The biggest hedge and insurance against bad publicity is simply being good – darn good. Build up enough positive reviews and testimony online so that a few bad reviews don’t sink you – and that you’ll possibly have an army of satisfied customers and brand loyalists/ambassadors ready to jump in there and defend you to underscore their good experiences with you. If someone reads one or a few bad reviews, but there are a lot more legitimate, good reviews out there for you all piled up, people will get the right overall view of you and your company, and surmise that it’s a bad apple outlier.

Concentrate on building an ongoing, current, and updated strong reputation with the public, your customers and all those around you by delivering top quality goods and services, treating all with the respect and dignity that you expect to be treated with, and by behaving ethically and as a good neighbor at all turns. You won’t win every battle, but you will win most. Eventually you’ll win the war for your reputation against those hell-bent on unfair publicity. People notice and honor trends. Be the master engineer of the trend that sets your mark of excellence, and when inaccurate, unfair or uncalled for reviews come up on any social media channel, you’ll be optimally ready and capable to overcome them – especially if your response is immediate, mature, fair, and respectful. That’s the best you can hope for in today’s double-edged sword world of social media freedom.

Hiring a Davinci Virtual receptionist team is a great idea if you are dealing with some social media fall out. You don’t always have the time to take every call and letting Davinci take care of your customers is a great way to stay on top of good publicity. Contact us today to learn more.

Read more...

Davinci 101: Live chat services drive more sales and create a better customer service experience

One of the most popular add-on services among our current customers is our live web chat service. More and more people are finding out the convenience and effectiveness of having online live chat as part of their overall business strategy. If you have spent any significant time on the Davinci website, you have probably seen a peek into how the live chat service works. If not, here’s the basic rundown.

When a visitor comes to a live chat enabled website, they browse from page to page as they normally would. Based on a set of defined rules (time, number pages visited, etc.) the website may automatically prompt the visitor if they would like to engage in live chat with a representative. If they choose yes, they’re immediately connected to a Davinci live chat receptionist. Once connected, the live chat receptionist can help with customer service inquiries, ordering, or just helping the website visitor to understand the site, services, and products. Live chat services are way more effective than hoping that the visitor fills out a contact form.

Live chat for business can be a true game changer for entrepreneurs for many reasons. First, live chat is a proven method for increasing qualified sales leads. Second, providing a live chat service for your current and potential clients shows that you’re committed to providing great communication. Finally, it frees you up as a business owner to focus more on the bigger picture or other important tasks than gathering leads. Having a Davinci Live Receptionist available to manage website live chat opportunities will greatly increase your website’s overall ability to sell and communicate.

We provide the best live chat solutions for all websites, including WordPress and custom built sites. To find out more about adding live web chat services to your website through Davinci, contact our company’s sales team at 888.863.3423.

Read more...

Getting Your Employees Involved in Social Media

Social media has taken the marketing industry by storm and companies large and small are leveraging “social” to drive core business objectives.

Consider just a few of the many reasons why. According to CMO, 54 percent of B2B marketers said they have generated leads from social media. What’s more, social media influences 93 percent of shoppers’ buying decisions, #Socialnomics 2014 reveals. It’s no wonder, then, why DashBurts reports 78 percent of companies have a dedicated social media team.

With these and many other statistics in mind, the big question for most companies is no longer whether to engage in social media but how to get employees more involved. From sales and marketing to customer relationship management to branding initiatives, employees can help you drive more awareness—and more profits—to your bottom line through social media.

Encouraging Employees to Go Social

Ingrid Kibler, Social Media Supervisor at HCK2 Partners, a marketing communications firm in Addison, Texas, has worked with global brands and small- to mid-sized businesses alike on the social media front.

According to Kibler, there are several key ways for brands to encourage employees to participate in social media, such as gamification, internal education, and giving employees a way to contribute content.

“It’s important to encourage employee participation because they know the company inside and out, and will serve as the best ambassadors for the brand,” Kibler says.

“What employees should do the on social media front for brand building may vary depending on the company,” she continues, “but a few guidelines apply across the board, such as having a strong professional presence online, sharing the brand’s content via their social networks where appropriate, and reaching audiences that the company cannot reach as a brand, such as LinkedIn groups.”

Some Practical Measures

Kevin Nolan saw success getting employees engaged in social media in three ways during his tenure as the Americas Marketing director at Teleperformance, a leading global outsourcing company that offers customers multichannel experiences. The company has call centers in 13 countries, including eight centers in the U.S.

“I developed a social media policy that encouraged the call center directors in the U.S. to use Facebook to reinforce our message as a great place to work and a job creator in the community,” says Nolan, who is now an account manager at Cooksey Communications, a Dallas/Fort-Worth-based strategic communications and consulting firm. “I would even create ‘public’ versions of internal announcements to protect clients' non-disclosure agreements. Facebook was an essential channel in publicizing job fairs.”

Using e-mail signatures that contain social media links is a simple task every employee can and should do. Social media buttons or links at the end of your signature helps inform customers and partners that you can be reached at different places online, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

“Everyone has an e-mail address, so I created some icons with the Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn URLs embedded in them,” Nolan says. “All they had to do was copy and paste. Soon every recipient of their e-mail—clients, prospects, community members, et cetera—was visiting our social media sites.”

Go Big on Blogging

Getting employees engaged in blogging is more important than you may think. The discipline of blogging can help employees fine tune sales presentations and general communication skills. Blogging can also unlock teaching that benefits the workplace.

Blogging has long been a staple of social media and although companies don’t want to let any and every employee blog publicly, internal blogs can influence a culture of learning. And subject matter experts within your ranks should put digital ink to digital paper to position your firm as a knowledgeable source in its space. Of course, it also helps with search engine optimization efforts. Here’s a few quick tips to encourage blogging: Give employees a template to work from, let them write about what interests them most and offer a list of topics to get the ball rolling.

“Our company had subject matter experts in key vertical markets—healthcare, banking & financial services, tech support, and travel & hospitality,” Nolan says. “Although these experts were quite knowledgeable in their respective fields, they struggled with writing. So I scheduled quick phone calls to discuss trends in their industry, their views on issues, et cetera. From these discussions I ghost-wrote their blogs and posted them on the company's public website, Twitter, and LinkedIn profile.”

With Facebook, Twitter and other social networks launching huge IPOs and offering shares in their company to the public, and subsequently those shares setting records in price and size, social media has earned its place in business as well as a communication channel. While you focus on getting customers, partners, and other businesses to your page, remember that Davinci also offers great services to help your company keep up with the influx in queries, we have everything from live receptionists to take your companies calls, to live chat service to take inbound chat requests. So do not hesitate any longer, and let your businesses social media strategy go wild on the world.

Read more...

5 Strategies Small Businesses Can Adopt to Ride the Omnichannel Wave

A majority of customers and prospects now expect a digital omnichannel experience when they engage with their vendors or prospective vendors. While smartphones most certainly are a critical piece in the omnichannel experience, they are only one cog in the larger ecosystem. It now encompasses everything from the contact center, to the website (including whether it is mobile friendly), to social media channels, to any number of experiences across the Web.

Omnichannel: A Business Requirement

Companies that fail to recognize the importance of offering a seamless omnichannel experience to customers and prospects are at a disadvantage. Small businesses that think omnichannel is only for large businesses are mistaken. Quickly consider a few trends:

  • Sixteen percent of all retail sales are now online, and this rate is growing annually at 15 percent (excluding gas, grocery, and car purchases).

  • Seventy-five percent of all businesses will be digital by 2020.

  • Forty-three percent of smartphone users have made online purchases from their phones in the past 30 days.

  • Businesses without an omnichannel strategy will lose 15 to 20 percent of their customers to competitors.

What these trends show is that omnichannel has evolved into something much broader and meaningful than what was coined as BYOD (bring your own device) a few years ago. Part of it is due to demographic shifts. Part of it is as a result of technology disruption—everything from the devices themselves to apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

5 Steps to Ride the Omnichannel Wave

All of this can be quite overwhelming for a small business. It is difficult to ascertain the milestone markers from the omnichannel frenzy that has beset the marketplace. Davinci understands the pressures and constraints of a small business, having our beginnings as an entrepreneurial startup a decade ago. We have also worked with thousands of small businesses to help them shape and execute on their engagement strategies. Based on our experience, there are at least five different areas where small businesses need to get right in order to create the types of omnichannel engagements with customers and prospects that produce tangible business outcomes.

1. Content. In today’s content-centric world, customers and prospects look to engage with companies that provide them with content that is interesting, informative, and engaging. Content is also a foundational lynchpin; omnichannel engagement cannot occur if a company lacks quality content. This can be done in any number of ways.

Prospects typically seek content that helps them to map out their business requirements and aids in the decision-making process. They are still building their business case and are looking for information that helps them do so. And since prospects—B2C and B2B—are more than 70 percent of the way through the decision-making funnel when they engage with vendors, it is critically important that companies deliver content through digital channels—their website, social media, online ads, search, and more—that builds awareness and facilitates engagement.

A content-starting point for a small business is their website. It needs to provide visitors with quality content that positions the company as a subject-matter expert in their space. Company blogs are probably the easiest way businesses can proffer content and engage with website visitors. Making sure the website and blog are optimized for search results is an important checkbox.

Of course, there are numerous other content channels that small businesses can explore—both to build audience and to engage with customers and prospects—such as video, eBooks, podcasts, white papers, infographics, etc. Our recommendation is to start with the website and blog and then, as time and resources permit, build your content strategy from there.

2. Mobile (and soon to be wearables). Mobile disruption is here to stay. Its impact on the personal and professional aspects of peoples’ lives is profound. Smartphones, tablets, and now wearables have changed how people communicate with each other and the companies with which they conduct business. Virtually no company in business today can ignore the mobile element.

Mobile devices are no longer a supplemental option. They are quickly becoming the primary means through which people access digital services. More than two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19 percent rely on their smartphone for accessing online services and information and staying connected to the world around them.

Small businesses seeking to ensure they remain ahead of the mobile disruption wave need to start with some basic blocking and tackling. A website must be optimized—and tested—for mobile devices. For companies that digitally engage with web visitors, this also means those engagement mechanisms (e.g., live web chat, personalized content, etc.) need to be optimized and easy to use on a mobile device.

3. Social. Social media is another technology disruption that small businesses cannot ignore. An astounding 80 percent of consumers expect businesses to be active in social media. Those that do not have social media presence or have lackluster social engagement put themselves at a disadvantage. It is irrefutable: customers want to engage with their vendors through their social channels. Prospects—in the case of a recent study 77 percent—consult their social channels and networks when making a purchase decision (for ratings and reviews).

Businesses that wish to communicate and interact with their customers and prospects must use social media. This is particularly salient considering that 59 percent of consumers interact with businesses on social media alone.

Key to an effective social media strategy is quality content. This creates high levels of engagement, driving traffic to the company website, building audience for the company blog and newsletter, and even generating new sales leads. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are virtual requisites, and others such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest might be depending on the nature of a company’s business and customer base. Managing these different social media channels has been made easy with the availability of different social media tools such as Oktopost, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, GroSocial, and numerous others.

4. Digital engagement (human and technology). Customers and prospects—particularly those who are millennials—prefer to answer their questions with self-service. Indeed, digital self-service is expected to surpass the voice channel this year. But it simply is not an issue of preferring one channel over the other; today’s B2C and B2B customers and prospects want an omnichannel experience that enables them to seamlessly move between each of the different engagement channels.

One aspect is that the human and technological elements of engagement become an integrated whole model. In general, larger companies embed their different engagement channels in different swim lanes (often in different departments, building, and states/countries), making it difficult for customers and prospects to move between each of them and moreover to provide the employees staffing those functions to leverage one data repository. This concurrently diminishes the ability to conduct data analytics and business intelligence and turn it into actionable decisions that span different business departments. This also inhibits proactive engagement based on data insights and digital behavior, something that is becoming increasingly important—and even expected by your social followers and website visitors.

Small businesses are much more agile than larger enterprises, and thus they have the ability to integrate their different engagement channels much more easily. Yet, because time and resources are limited, many small businesses only have rudimentary engagement models. One of the reasons Davinci was founded is the premise that we could provide small businesses with a multi-pronged engagement solution—combining digital and traditional modes such as email and voice.

Davinci Live Receptionists give small businesses the ability to outsource receptionist services to a dedicated Davinci team of professionals who are experts on your business. This virtual team fields incoming calls from prospects and customers, routes them to the appropriate members of your team, provides outbound calling services, and much more.

Davinci Live Web Chat enables small businesses to proactively engage with customers and prospects on your website—or even certain social channels. Our dedicated Web Chat team answers questions, provides support, and even transacts sales.

What is unique about how we have configured our offerings is that we can seamlessly move customers and prospects between the different engagement channels; each of the teams function as an integrated whole and regardless of the engagement channel the data resides in one repository (which also includes website analytics). Because of this integrated omnichannel approach, our small business customers agilely leapfrog their much larger competitors that still operate highly segregated environments.

5. Personalization. Customer and prospect engagement—spanning marketing, sales, and customer service—is rapidly evolving to incorporate digital personalization strategies. These are only possible if an organization has the right mechanisms in place to capture and store the data and moreover the underlying technologies to pinpoint actionable data insights.

The end result is websites and various other digital engagement channels that deliver highly personalized experiences. A small business can offer proactive web chat based on a website visitor’s behavior. Content can also be presented to visitors based on their profile and behavior. The same data that is available digitally can also be employed in traditional voice and email channels. Davinci’s integrated solution enables us to deliver all of these services to our small business customers.

Other areas to consider that employ digital personalization include ad retargeting, account-based marketing, and more.

Facilitating Omnichannel Engagement

It truly is an exciting time to be in business and see small businesses put in a position not only to match but exceed those of much larger counterparts. Solutions such as our Live Receptionist Service and Live Web Chat Service give small businesses the opportunity to create omnichannel engagement experiences they never imagined were possible just a few years ago.

To find out more on how Davinci’s products and services can help you deliver an omnichannel experience for your customers, send us a message, call us at 1.888.863.3423, or chat with us.

Sources:

1. Adam Fridman, “Omni Channel Marketing Allows the Best of Both In-Store and e-Commerce,” INC. (April 2015).
2. Myer Sheik, “Are You Prepared to Deliver a True Omnichannel Experience?” IDGConnect (February 26, 2014).
3. Amanda Lenhart, “Teens, Social Media, and Technology Overview 2015,” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech (April 9, 2015).
4. “The B2B Funnel Revolution"
5. Aaron Smith, “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015,” Pew Research Center, Internet, Science & Tech (April 1, 2015).
6. Louis Foong, “Interesting Infographics: Nurturing the Sales Funnel Using Social Media,” CustomerThink (January 18, 2015).
7. Ibid.
8. Sheik, “True Omnichannel Experience?”
9. Kate Leggett with Stephen Powers, Ian Jacobs, and Arelai Ephraim, “Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service,” Forrester (March 2, 2015).
10. PV Kannan, “Trends to Watch in 2015: Digital Is the New Black,” SMART Customer Service (December 19, 2014).

Read more...

4 Reasons to Go Virtual Versus In-House for Receptionists and Assistants

One of the biggest challenges facing many small businesses today is the lack of time and resources. Both are finite and the lack of one or both can impede a company’s ability to grow and expand. Recognizing virtual receptionists can help them overcome these obstacles, as rapidly growing numbers of small businesses are embracing virtual receptionists. Some of the issues small businesses seek to solve include:

  • Cannot afford a full-time receptionist
  • Do not want to assume tax and benefit responsibilities for full-time staff
  • Unable to be available 24×7
  • Managing schedules is time-consuming and complex
  • Need for the flexibility to scale up and scale down resources

 

With the help of virtual receptionists (or assistants), small businesses can focus on building their businesses and delivering great solutions and services for their customers rather than spending valuable time on administrative tasks. In addition, the potential use cases for virtual receptionists are much broader in scope than for in-house receptionists.

A side-by-side comparison of Davinci Live Receptionists to in-house receptionists evinces some important differentiators. The takeaway: the aggregate is much greater than an individual contributor.

1. Collective approach. One advantage is our team approach. Dedicated teams of Live Receptionist professionals are experts on the products and services of the customers for which they serve. Their collective experience and knowledge is a greater multiplier over in-house staff (team compared to one individual).

2. Business agility. Because an entire team of professionals is trained on each of our customer’s products and services, Davinci customers have the ability to scale up and down to flexibly accommodate shifts in business requirements. With Davinci Live Receptionist Services, small businesses suddenly achieve the agility of a large business without assuming any of the same risks.

3. Professional capabilities. The Davinci Live Receptionist team is trained in a wide range of business capabilities. For example, rarely—if ever—is an in-house assistant capable of handling outbound sales calls in addition to answering calls. But in the case of our professional team, managing outbound sales calls is a proven capability across a wide range of industries.

4. Mentoring, quality control. We take employee development very seriously and created a skills-based and career-path staffing model that allows us to recruit, train, and retain champion professionals. Our Davinci Live Receptionist team graduates through a multi-tier development program. Throughout this entire process, our professionals are coached and mentored as well as evaluated on their performance in serving our customers’ prospects and customers. This highly structured approach simply cannot be replicated in a small business environment where the receptionist/assistant is one person who works in a silo.

Hundreds of small businesses across the United States experience the benefits of Davinci Live Receptionist Services every day, and their great reviews have made us the best provider for over a decade now. For more information on Davinci Live Receptionist Services and how our team of professionals can help your small business, visit www.davincivirtual.com/live-receptionists.

Read more...