The Secret to Hiring the Best Customer Services Reps

I believe that hiring the most productive customer service employees really comes down to hiring for attitude over skill.

I once heard a quote at a business conference I attended in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that is very applicable here: “Hire slowly, fire fast”. Taking your time with this decision is crucial, regardless of how badly you need the extra help. Think of the Japanese word “Kaizen” – it means taking a little time to get better every day.

Your mindset should be set on long term growth and success.  You want your business to be a kaizen. Think for 10 years from now. Sure, hiring the first person to crop up might solve a need short-term, but it will destroy you in the long run.

Here are a few tips to help you wield out the good recruits from the bad:

1. Are they making good eye contact?

If a person does not maintain great eye contact during an interview, you would never want to hire them for a customer service position. Customer service is all about being social and finding ways to connect with colleagues, management, and most of all, customers.

2. Can you hear empathy in their voice?

Another key trait of a great customer service rep is having an empathetic vocal quality that will have them practically drooling to make customers feel good and to feel comfortable. As well, their empathy should also be used to diffuse a bad situation before it escalates, i.e., a key customer terminates contract.

3. What kind of personality do they have?

The 4 most important things to learn during a phone screen are: 1. Is this person socially adept? and 2. Will this person get along with my company and my team? 3. Does this person speak with confidence and pride? 4. Is the person positively responsive to the information you provide?  Things like when to talk and when to listen, how to respond appropriately, and correct tone of voice are difficult to teach. You want someone who has those things down. And the phone screen will reveal this.

4. Create a profile of your ideal employee

Have a plan. Try to avoid simply hiring anyone that looks good or comes in with an application. Create a profile of what makes a good employee, and what makes a bad employee, and look for those that stick to that plan. Speak to friends and colleagues to see if they can refer someone to you.

5. Check References

You really need to check references carefully and do background checks. In the litigious society in which we live you need to pursue every avenue to assure that the people you hire can do the job, contribute to your growth and development, and have no past transgressions which might endanger your current workforce.

6. Simulations

Have your team engage with the interviewees as if they were customers. You can learn a lot and get to see if they were friendly or standoffish. If we were unable to get them to engage in conversation on the sales floor, it could be a sign that they may not bode well in your work environment.

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8 Prospecting Voicemail Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve all heard horrible, boring and pointless voicemails, and if you’re like me, you do one of two things. One, you delete them before they’re done, and two, you remark to yourself how the person leaving it has no tact. Here are 8 things to avoid when leaving voicemails to prospects:

 

1. Telling Lies

Pretending to have called before and spoken to someone in the office when you have not is bad practice in the business world. You will not win over customers. Instead, do some research so you have a grabber value proposition that the prospect cannot refuse.

2. You’re Missing the Point

Talking about your products, instead of finding a compelling solution to a painpoint your prospect is experience, is a sure fire way not to get a call back. Avoid this, as well!

3. Short, But Not Sweet

Leaving a message that’s too short does not give the prospect a good enough reason to call back or pick up the next time you call. Go through the 5Ws and 1 H in 1 minute or less. Focus the voicemail on what you can do to help the prospect resolve their issues.

4. Playing Hard to Get

Passively waiting for a call back will not make the prospect respect you more. You are trying to reach them and show them that what you are offering is compelling. Do not wait around for them to reach out to you. Put a follow-up action in place using a CRM tool and follow through.

5. Giving Up

Giving up after only 2 or 3 attempts. Most prospects won’t return your call until you have tried to reach them more than five times. Use your Contact Management System to track the calls you make in order to avoid bombarding them.

6. Failing to stick to one topic per voicemail message

You can’t mention every business issue or trigger event you could address. Choose one for this call. Save the others for future calls or followups.

7. No Referral Mentions

If someone referred you to the prospect, make sure to say that in the first 5 seconds of your voicemail. A prospect is more likely to call back when they know the person/business was referred to them by someone they know.

8. Lots of Stutter

Leaving a voicemail with lots of verbal pauses (like “ums” and “ahs”) makes you sound less confident, and less credible.  If you know you are nervous and may stutter, write out the script or practice what you are going to say beforehand. Review message, if applicable, before sending.

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5 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience

Customer Experience remains at the core of any enterprise’s success. Most businesses that built their enterprise from the ground up are already experts in customer experience. They have a deep understanding of their customer needs and the experience that will satiate their customers’ goals.

However, becoming an expert in customer experience is not one a time thing. It involves active customer engagement, which many businesses slip away from after 1-2 years of growth and found success. They do this by getting too caught up in the daily grind of managing a business.

Here are 5 ways to enhance the customer experience and actively engaging your customers:

 

1. Listen with a Beginner’s Mind

Develop tact for listening to your customers. The key is to adopt a beginner’s mindset. That is adopting an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions.  One way you can do that is to affirm yourself as a learner, rather than a knower, which makes you open to feedback and new perspectives. In customer service, for example, you could develop a survey that asks customers for their input on how your product/service can better their goals and exceed expectations. Repeat the survey periodically.

 

2. Schedule Periodic Reviews

Look through recent and past notes and take the time to reflect is key in order gain new insight. As you do this, pay attention to recurring comments and themes. Identify the who, what, where, when and why of each customer comment.  Bring the concerns up with the appropriate personnel and follow-up with customers once the issue has been resolved. Use your CRM tool to document your customer interactions through to the resolution.

 

3. Make People Famous

Take the time to highlight a power user in your community (with their permission, of course!) in a public way — social media, website, blog post, etc. Most people love to be publicly recognized, and giving a user a moment in the limelight is a powerful way to turn them into a brand ambassador and life-long customer.

 

4. Call Your Customers Regularly

Build a relationship with each customer. Occasionally give them a call or send them an email. As well, take notes of the things your customers say and organize each note by topics related to those comments. This will help you become proactive in resolving customer concerns and retaining customers for longer periods. A practical CRM tool can help you organize notes and enhance your customer experience.

 

5. Be Adaptive

Every customer is different. You should be able to handle surprises, sense the customer’s mood changes and adapt accordingly. This also includes a willingness to learn– providing good customer service is a continuous learning process.

 

 

 

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To Cloud or Not To Cloud: On-Premise vs. Cloud CRM Debate Revisited

One of the more common conversations in our industry today is around whether to deploy a new CRM tool in the cloud or on premise. It may even be harder to know where to start weighing your options. The choice may seem like a simple one, but has far-reaching consequences. And it isn’t always black and white. Asking vendors to propose 2 configurations (Cloud  CRM and on-premise CRM) is not a productive way to making choices because you will end up comparing apples and oranges and ultimately, will have to choose one over the other.

Major technology vendors, such as Microsoft and Oracle, have already unveiled products that emphasize the benefits of storing data and running applications, platforms, and infrastructure in the cloud — both public and private. However, the majority of Information Technology leaders that I speak with at work remain pessimistic about the switch and are caught in the debate over maintaining on-premises data centers versus moving to the cloud.

So which configuration is right for you?

It is very hard to say without knowing a little about you and why you need a CRM tool and what you will be using it for. Much depends on the type of data you need to store, and the mindset your organization has regarding cloud computing in general.  In order to better understand which CRM system option is best for your company, there are a few important questions to consider:

  • Does your company have adequate IT support to administrate an on-premise CRM?
  • What are your security requirements, both of your accessibility and of the data itself?
  • How much customization do you need?
  • Does the cost per-head method calculate in your favor?
  • Do you want to integrate your CRM with other enterprise solutions?

However, I particularly prefer on-premise CRM tools over those hosted over the cloud (Cloud CRM). Many of my customers, who have tried both, share my sentiments. The most obvious and common reasons behind our choices include concerns about regulatory requirements and possible issues with connectivity and speed. Both concerns are often outside the control of your organization and your cloud provider and could make your data inaccessible at times. As well,  many companies raised concerns over the per-user costs associated with Cloud CRMs. If a large amount of workers need access to your database, it may be less expensive to host your own system [on premise].

Choosing the right CRM system is integral to your business. Be sure you know the pros and cons of each option before making your decision. Contact our Customer relationship management (CRM) for more information.

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Act! Alternative – InfoFlo CRM is Compatible with Windows 10

In 2015, Microsoft launched an initiative whereby all qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8 users were able to upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge by registering for an automatic download.

The current version of Act! (v17.2) is fully compatible with Windows 10; however, editions of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and earlier versions are incompatible with Windows 10. This leaves many consumers of Act! CRM Software in a precarious situation.

The recommended action(s) that you should take to ensure compatibility between Act! and Windows 10 varies depending on which edition of Act! you are currently using. For consumers, whose business is being affected by the incompatibility, the issue is both frustrating and one that they would like to resolve quickly – void of any complicated and technical steps taken on their part.

At Carmel Vision, we understand your frustrations. We’ve had numerous inquiries from customers seeking Act! alternatives that are compatible with Windows 10 since the release in July, 2015. We are pleased to report that our flagship product InfoFlo is fully compatible with Windows 10. Should you wish to switch from Act! to InfoFlo, we would be able to help you export your contacts and all notes attached to them and import them to InfoFlo for a minimal fee. You will be required to install Microsoft Excel for some of the exports to work.

One key advantage to switching to InfoFlo is that you receive free upgrades for life.  That means, you will never have to worry about having a version of our software being incompatible with an operating system.    We are committed to ensuring customer satisfaction at minimal cost to our customers. We deploy our team of research and development professionals with innovative and versatile minds to deliver the professional services that our clients most deserve.

Why choose InfoFlo?

  • There’s minimal switchover cost
  • Training provided to all employees and managers
  • Affordable – Outlook Sync feature is only $69/user
  • Complete office solution with project management, social media, phone system integration and more.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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How to Back Up Business Contact Manager Data

The following is an inquiry sent to us via our contact form:

 I’ve been using Business Contact Manager with Outlook for a number of years. After upgrading to Outlook 2016 in September, 2016, I was told, via a pop-up box,  that BCM is no longer compatible with Microsoft Suites. I was not aware of the changes until after the upgrade. Now I’m stuck without the ability to downgrade to Outlook 2013 and no data. Can you please help me?

In August, we wrote about the changes Microsoft has made to Business Contact Manager.  We caution all readers who use to Business Contact Manager and are wishing to upgrade to Outlook 2016 to contact us first before making the switch. We will be able to custom import your data into our interface and will do the necessary steps for backup to make sure the integration is as swift as possible for you.

How to Back Up Business Contact Manager Data

The built-in method of performing backups and restores is very easy.  You can find the backup and restore option for BCM by doing the following:

  • BCM 2003
    Business Tools-> Manage Database…
  • BCM 2007
    Business Contact Manager-> Database Tools-> Manage Database…
  • BCM 2010
    File-> Business Contact Manager-> BackUp and Restore
  • BCM 2013
    File-> Business Contact Manager-> BackUp and Restore

From there, the backup and restore process is swift; select the backup location and provide the password for the backup of the database. You may need an external hard drive to host your data. If your backup is on the same disk as your original database and your hard disk fails, then your backup will be lost.

As well, we caution you not to make any upgrades to any software without backing up your data first in a safe location. If the upgrade fails and you are not able to access a certain program, you can easily restore it to a point when the program was working; hence where your backup comes into good use.

So if you are in a similar situation as one of our inquirers, do not panic. All you need is a copy of your backup and we’ll help you with the rest.

Why choose InfoFlo?

  • There’s minimal switchover cost
  • Training provided to all employees and managers
  • Affordable – Outlook Sync feature is only $69/user
  • Complete office solution with project management, social media, phone system integration and more.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

 

 

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6 Ways to Maintain Customer Loyalty Like a Pro

In virtually every industry, the cost of retaining a loyal customer is far less than the cost to acquire a new one. Therefore, encouraging customer loyalty can mean big savings for your business. Here are a few things to consider when trying to maximize customer loyalty:

 

1. Feature Your Customers & Success Stories in Your Content

Feature your customers or people who say great things about your brand in the content you write. Put them in the spotlight and let them know how much you appreciate their loyalty and endorsement. Once they see the reciprocity, they’ll make your brand a priority and, in the process, will become your biggest advocates.

 

2. Gift Them With Care

If your customers take an interest in what you’re talking about and what you do as a company, it’s only fair for you to reciprocate. Take a look at their social accounts or distribute a survey to see what kinds of things they really enjoy, and then send them something you know they’ll like and will not be able to put down. They’ll definitely talk about it through their social accounts and, more importantly, they’ll talk about it in person with their friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else who will listen….and put your brand in the spotlight.

 

3. Invoke the Inner Ego

Most people prefer products and companies that slightly resemble the self. This preferences, also known as implicit egotism, is an key concept to keep in mind when talking to customers. To attract meaningful customers, you need to identify your target customers down to the nifty gritty, then craft a message “deal” that matches their painpoints and goals. What we’re implying is that in order to be successful in customer retention you have to make each customer feel special with a solution that no one has but them.

 

4. Don’t just sell, educate

According to distinguished entrepreneur and blogger David Skok, sales is more effective when you have an existing relationship with a customer, and when you’ve already provided the value to them. This argument is consistent with the research of TARP Worldwide, which shows customers do enjoy receiving helpful recommendations on new information and products that will help them achieve better results.

 

5. Invest in a CRM System with Good Insight & Analytics

The best way to retain customers and prevent them from defecting to competitors is to prevent them from leaving in the first place. If you pay enough attention, you can always see the signals of your customers impending departure ahead of time. All you have to do is to identify the key variables such as purchase patterns, product usage and service calls – Capture the signals and then put actions in place to stop them from making the switch.

That is where your CRM tool comes in handy. Let’s say you want to know how many of your VIP clients have not purchased anything from you in the last 6 months, which might be a sign of low retention. First, you create a list of all of your VIP customers and their typical purchasing habits and then you create a list of all sales made within the last six months using your CRM software. By creating these lists and doing proper comparisons, you will end up with a list of VIP customers who haven’t purchased from you in the last 6 months. Using the analytics and insight your CRM tool has provided, you can then follow up with these customers and find out the reasons why they were not purchasing and look for ways to get them to reconsider their decision.

 

6. Enhance Customer Service

If you’re anything like me, the number of personal details you’re able to retain in your mind is limited. Without reminders from my Facebook account and virtual calendar, I would likely miss 90% of the birthdays, anniversaries and other social gatherings around me. Since most businesses are not friends with all of their customers on Facebook and most people don’t add too many details in the calendar, a CRM tool can come into very good use. This platform allows you to keep track of individual customers with pertinent information like their contact details, last purchase date, and any personal notes your staff makes, such as birthdays, anniversaries, allergies, and favorite item. Use this information to enhance your customer service! I.E., Send a birthday card, celebrate anniversaries of business deals with discounts and savings, send an occasional thank you email and check to see how their use of your product/service is coming along.

 

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.
All interested parties are welcome to download a free trial version of our CRM application.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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7 Ways to Boost Your Sales Success

There are a number of things you can do to help boost your overall success. You can start by following these 7 tips:

1. Quality over Quantity

Sales is not always about the numbers, as some people would argue. The point of sales is to create quality conversations with prospective clients. Those that thrive in sales have qualification criteria and try not to waste their time on people that are at too low a level, companies that won’t benefit from their products/services, or buyers that don’t have the money to make the deal happen. Successful sales people work to find out this information early on, so they could focus on the files that matter.

2. Always have a Next Step

Never leave a sales meeting with a client without a solid next step that both of you agree to.  Often times you will hear objections such as “just email me a few times that will work and we’ll put it on the schedule.” In most cases this does not work and takes you out of the driver’s seat.  Sales people find themselves chasing after clients days after writing the email and playing broken telephone, making the sales pitch highly unproductive in the process. The next step should always be tentatively set. Remind the prospect that if they wish to cancel, they could call you to arrange another time.

REMEMBER: When a prospect makes a commitment on the spot, they are much more likely to follow through.

3. Ask, listen, and act.

These three words define sales success. Your questions must be creative, planned, and purposeful. Your listening skills must be well-developed, showing the prospect that you are keen on meeting their needs and making them your success story. You must then respond and take action while proving that you listened to them and want their business.

4. Develop an attitude

Your attitude can only be controlled by you; no one else can do it for you. Conquer your fears and face them head on. Eliminate any vocabulary that will limit your success and develop an attitude that will help you climb the corporate ladder. Remember, your thought habits control your commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, resilience, happiness, and confidence. With time and effort, you can become the person you want to be.

5. Pace yourself

Prospecting is a very time-consuming and arduous task. Allocate a specific amount of time each day (week?) and keep to the schedule. It is always easy to put something ahead of the prospecting activity but make an appointment with yourself and don’t break it.

6. Commit to Lifelong Learning

Commit yourself to lifelong learning. Read, listen to audio programs, attend seminars, and never forget that the most valuable asset you will ever have is your mind. As you continue to learn, you will eventually become the one of the most valuable salespeople in your industry. The more knowledge you obtain that can be applied to practical purposes, the greater will be your rewards.

7. Shorten Meetings

Try scheduling short, 15 minute meetings with prospects. This will help you have more productive and effective meetings. It will also compel prospects to come and talk, especially when they have busy schedules and almost never time.

 

Carmel Vision, a Toronto based CRM software development company, is focused on delivering a powerful management infrastructure that is designed to collect, search, and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in a typical office. We understand and listen to all of our customers’ needs and strive to give excellent quality at affordable prices.

Our flagship product, InfoFlo – is a central management system specifically designed to combat one of the biggest technical challenges facing any professional organization, how to efficiently organize, archive, filter and search the vital information that bombards our desktops on a daily basis. Our infrastructure allows all office activities to coexist together under one umbrella, making all critical information readily available at your fingertips.
All interested parties are welcome to download a free trial version of our CRM application.

No credit cards and long term commitments are required. Click here to download free trial.

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InfoFlo CRM – Alternative to Microsoft Business Contact Manager

Technology and software upgrades are major parts of life in the business world.  Reasons for the upgrade may include tighter security, more features and perhaps a more user-friendly interface, too. But if you are a Microsoft Business Contact Manager (BCM) user and would like to upgrade to Office 2016, you will have to shop for a new BCM replacement — the new Microsoft Office package is not compatible with BCM.

What is a Good Alternative to Microsoft BCM

InfoFlo lets you enjoy all the benefits of a completely seamless Outlook integration. It is an on-premise CRM tool that intuitively syncs with Outlook contacts, companies, categories, emails, and calendar. As well, it has a broad range of industry-specific templates that make it easy for the software to adapt to the unique needs of your business, along with a CRM implementation team who will guarantee success for all staff and managers.  Download free trial here.

Will you have to start from scratch when switching to InfoFlo CRM as a BCM replacement?

You will not lose your data whilst switching over from Microsoft BCM. All you have to do is export your Business Contact Manager data and import it directly into our interface. InfoFlo conveniently offers an Outlook Sync. add-0n  that automatically uses all of your Outlook contacts, emails, and appointments.

Why choose InfoFlo?

  • There’s minimal switchover cost
  • Training provided to all employees and managers
  • Affordable – Outlook Sync feature is only $69/user
  • Complete office solution with project management, social media, phone system integration and more.
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InfoFlo Recognized for Being the Highest Rated in Satisfaction for CRM Products

Carmel Vision is very pleased to announce that our flagship product, InfoFlo, was recognized for being the highest rated in satisfaction for CRM products last month by G2Crowd. Users of CRM products were asked to rate qualifying vendors on their ability to track and manage customer interactions across customer lifecycle from lead to order to support in one master system of record. To qualify for nominations, products must have been reviewed by 10+ users in 2015 by companies with 51 to 1,000 employees.

G2Crowd is a leading source for unfiltered business software reviews, giving software users an accurate picture of the likelihood of success and allowing them to find relevant references and expertise on their own without relying on those supplied by the vendors. Their 50,000+ user reviews are read by approximately 400,000 software buyers each month to help them make better purchasing decisions. By bringing the collective power of trusted peers to the forefront, business buyers now have lucidity when evaluating B2B software technologies.

Having been in business for over 12 years, Carmel Vision has been proudly delivering powerful management infrastructure that have been designed to help many different businesses collect, search and archive all content, contact and communication activities that take place in their workplaces. The most important lessons we have learned is that no matter what business you service, reputation is the key. We take our reviews seriously and with pride we share them with you.

We invite all InfoFlo users to review us on G2Crowd and share their success stories. We want to thank you tremendously for taking the time to review us. We genuinely strive to make sure your experience is an exceptional one.

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