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CATEGORY: Business Marketing

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.

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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).

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The Good News Is That 'Bad News' Can Actually Be 'Good News'

Is it really true that learning of bad news can actually be good news? According to the most successful operators in our high-hospitality based Serviced Workspace industry, it’s absolutely true. Hearing or reading bad reviews and complaints isn’t something to shy away from, get defensive about, be traumatized over, and then sweep under the rug. A negative review is an opportunity, if we know how to handle it.

It might take an adjustment to one’s philosophical approach in order to see the full value and benefits of complaints and bad reviews; but the last thing you want to do is dismiss them, or worse yet, shoot the messenger. Don’t take what’s often a hidden gift from a reviewer and turn it into an irreversible fiasco just so that you can prove you’re right – or worse yet, that the client or reviewer is wrong.

It’s not true that ‘the customer is always right’ – but it is absolutely undeniable that the customer is always ‘the customer.’ As such, they’re capable of doing quite damaging things if their complaints go unaddressed, especially in today’s social media and review-manic universe.

But here is the really, really good news. That same capacity to cause viral harm can also be a great source to cause viral good. If you’re talking about reversing bad reviews and complaints, you actually have a chance to help yourself immensely, and the bad review(er) can wind up being the best thing that ever happened to you. Here’s how…

It starts with a positive, empowering, philosophical approach – one that recognizes instantly and with conviction that a bad review or complaint is actually an opportunity to be heroic, customer service-wise, that comes at you disguised as, well, as a bad review that might not feel so great, and can even cause you embarrassment or lost business.

The winning approach, attitude, and philosophy when dealing with bad reviews includes a personal acknowledgement of the following:

  • The reviewer, critic, or complainer could have simply kept quiet and not reported their grievance in a way for the world, including you, to see. By publicizing their concerns or disappointment, they are handing you, on a silver platter, the ability to handle it right, professionally, and in a way that makes the reviewer and you come out smelling like a rose, for the world to see.
  • ‘Bad News’ is essentially free focus-group feedback of the best and most valuable kind. It’s sending you a signal based on their experience, that something truly might be wrong or not up to snuff, and that more customers beyond the reviewer, could be picking up on, and you risk losing their business if you don’t correct or improve it.
  • A disappointed or unsatisfied customer is a great ambassador of you and your business waiting to happen. They have already proven that they’re committed enough to go the extra mile and complain/review publicly, as opposed to quietly damaging your reputation and business. You can turn the tables instantly, with sensitivity, showing honest concern, and with a whole lot of humility and appreciation.

 

Bad reviews, just like verbal complaints, require similar treatment:

  • First, an acknowledgment of the concern with a verbal or posted statement -- a pledge for all to see that you will listen and investigate the nature of the complaint. Show the reviewer, and the world, the utmost courtesy and your determination to resolve the situation.
  • State that their business and your standards are important to you, and that you will work in earnest to find a satisfactory explanation and solution.
  • Review the concern carefully and with an open mind, and find the solution plus a way to make them right while reaffirming your appreciation and commitment to excellence.

 

The incident or reason for their complaint is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The relationship, and maintaining it in a dignified, professional tone and manner is of much greater importance. Turning negative reviews into a positive is something that’s actually much more attainable than you think, especially if you jump on them quickly, and as long as you regard dissatisfied reviewers as vital and potentially golden for the maintenance your image, brand, reputation and business.

It’s not whether the reviewer or you are wrong that you should be zeroing in on, but rather whether the client, and all the actual and potential clients behind that client, are noticing you handling the issue and aggrieved gracefully and in a dignified manner. Seizing the opportunity to reverse the potential bad and unfair publicity is much more important than who’s right or wrong by starting from the position that they might be right, and treating them right even if you feel differently.

Bad reviews and reviewers are gems, even those whose assessments feel off-base. Work to make them right anyway, and learn from their criticisms. They are never 100% wrong, and quite often, they’re more right than you’ll ordinarily give them credit for.

If you are looking for help managing your customer phone calls, complaints or not, Davinci Virtual Live Receptionist Services gives you the power to maximize your businesses potential with low overhead costs.

Learn more by visiting www.davincivirtual.com or calling 888-863-3423.

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5 reasons why many small business startups fail

In every industry, most small business startups fail, and no matter what we tell ourselves, it’s not simply because of bad luck.

Startups fail for a variety of reasons, but they are always attributed to specific miscalculations. When a small business fails, either right after take-off or farther along the company’s life-cycle, it’s likely because of one of these five reasons:

 

  1. Bad business model

Often, entrepreneurs are overly optimistic, and unfortunately, the “If we build it, they will come” mentality is not a sound business model. Acquiring customers takes time and strategic marketing. You may have a great product, site, or service, but without a great business model, it will not hold your small business afloat.

If you think acquiring a few new customers will equate to success, think again. It’s the first rule to starting a business, but one that entrepreneurs often forget. Acquiring new customers actually costs your business more money than retaining the customers you already have. To avoid business model failure, focus on the lifetime value of a customer more than customer acquisition.

 

  1. Mismanaging finances

Another common reason small businesses fail is financial mismanagement. If you pay little attention to your bottom line, you’re almost immediately doomed to fail. When you’re running a small business, it’s easy to miscalculate operating costs, initial startup costs, product pricing, and founder’s salaries.

To avoid this mistake, be sure to consult a talented accountant, create and maintain a very detailed outline of expenses, and secure a long-term plan to raise cash.

  1. Market issues

It is possible that you can do everything right, but your startup could still fail. The reason may be problems with the market. In many cases, it’s possible that the market timing is bad. Your product or service might be ahead of the market by several years and depend on the emergence of other products in order for it to gain traction.

Additionally, the market should be recognized as dynamic and ever-changing. Even if your product fits the market when you started, it’s possible for the winds to change. Prepare to continually adapt your strategy to stay relevant by thoroughly conducting market research before you begin, and again at least once a year afterwards.

  1. Product/market fit

It’s also possible that the problem lies with your product or service itself, either due to market need or a deeper strategic issue.

Product problems may be also be apparent if there is not enough value proposition. At that moment in time, buyers may not have a compelling enough reason to purchase your product. However, if you properly demonstrate your product’s value to meet a relevant want or need, you have the potential to succeed.

  1. Hiring the wrong people

Even when all other startup elements appear to be in line, many businesses fail because they didn’t hire the right people. Startup managers, in particular, have the tendency to take on too many tasks and responsibilities, preventing both themselves and their team from achieving long term growth.

Free up more of your time and help out your team by learning how to effectively delegate tasks. Even simpler administrative tasks that take up the bulk of a business owner’s day can be outsourced to live virtual receptionists. With virtual receptionist services, hours of your day spent performing duties like customer service, processing orders, or scheduling appointments can be freed up to focus on achieving business goals and providing direction and leadership for your team.

As you take these reasons into consideration, it is critical that you create a living business plan to outline specific steps you will take to achieve success 3-5 years ahead, including your market analysis, financial projections, and plans to raise additional funds. This will help you foresee any possible roadblocks and prevent your small business startup from going under.

To learn more secrets to operating a successful small business, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Dramatically Increase Sales Through Better Communication

78% of consumers have canceled a transaction or decided not to make an intended purchase because of a poor customer service experience. -American Express Survey, 2011

Running a small business or startup can be an exciting time for a motivated mobile entrepreneur. With a growing client base, new business opportunities, and a strengthening brand, it's important to keep your customer service consistent and responsive. Recent surveys have shown customer service and communication with current and prospective clients are hugely important when it comes to improving a small business' bottom line. Having a team of live receptionists to answer calls, process orders, provide client support, and help keep your communication with clients organized is one of the most cost-effective and immediate ways to elevate your customer service.

When asked, 67% of respondents to the American Express Survey claimed to have hung up the phone out of frustration for not reaching a real person. While clients understand that at times they may need to leave a voicemail or message, if you're consistently struggling to quickly answer phones, up to 2/3 of your clients will look elsewhere. Davinci live receptionist average an under two second answer time for all inbound calls.

In a 2009 study, a Gensys Global Survey found out that 78% of a happy customer experience is based on competent service reps. While, as the business owner, it would be ideal to speak to every client personally, a trained and always available live receptionist service can always be counted on to provide a happy customer experience for your clients. Based and completely staffed in the United States, Davinci's receptionists will be able to communicate clearly, quickly, and with a personalized touch to your clients.

Finally, Lee Resources found that 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with a company that has provided them with a negative customer service experience. Unless you're the only player in your industry, slow communication and non-personalized customer service will drive your clients to the competition.

To learn how to get your own team of virtual receptionists, please contact us at 888-863-3423 or visit us at www.davincivirtual.com.

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