MediaOcean’s VP of Support and Training, Stephanie Dorman, singlehandedly restructured and advanced the company’s contact center department with an eye for customer centricity and employee satisfaction. She spoke with me in an exclusive interview about how she did it.
“There were times when we all thought we were going to lose our hair […] but we developed a very strong team out of it because of what we had to go through together,” she said on navigating her team through the company’s early days of a company merger.
In the interview, Dorman outlined several options for building a strong team. She insists on support from executives, approachable and readily-available training and foregoing a tiered-management structure as key elements to a successful contact center.
The four-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com emphasizes customer centricity. Dorman stressed that they key to customer care is in making a personal connection, which means creating a culture where employees are viewed as integral to the department and company. Dorman will discuss these topics further at the event. She will also touch on the tools to empower and train employees.
Google’s Global Product Lead, Chris Vennard, predicts mobile calls from search will double to 86 billion annually by 2018. Vennard, who heads up Google’s Call Ad product, spoke with me about improving the user experience with customer support.
“Nobody will disagree when I say the world is going mobile,” he said.
Vennard outlined several options to enhancing the customer journey – and they begin and end with mobile. First, a ‘bail out’ function is important. Mobile users visiting a company’s website should always have the option to hit a call button to automatically connect them to an agent for help. The next step will be to show the agent their search history.
During the interview, which can be seen in a three-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com, Vennard went on to talk about the difference between mobile apps and mobile webpages and the benefits of these strategies.
The Detroit Business Journal wrote an article on my work’s upcoming military event off the back of a press release we sent out via PR Newswire. The end goal of any press release is to have it turn into a story, but that very rarely happens. Well, today is that day.
IDGA’S LIGHTWEIGHT TACTICAL VEHICLES SUMMIT COMES TO DETROIT THIS MARCH
Advancements and Opportunities within the Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Programs
New York, NY (February 2, 2015) – IDGA is pleased to announce its debut event, the
Lightweight Tactical Vehicles Summit this March 16-18 in Detroit. The Summit will feature more than 20 highly qualified speakers, which include five military program managers who boast a combined 300 years of military experience.
This new program will bring together some of the military’s key decision makers in an intimate forum to give insight into future vehicle acquisition projects. Since fewer vehicles contract opportunities are available due to drawn down conflicts abroad and sequestration, the military must be more proactive in identifying best value solution providers. This event will serve as an ideal platform for the military decision makers to achieve that initiative.
The summit will bring together 20+ high profile speakers including; COL Kmiecik, Director of Mounted Requirements, COL Mike Milner, Program Manager, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, COL Jason Craft, Program Manager, Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles and COL James Schirmer, Program Manager, Armored Fighting Vehicles.
Never before has IDGA had the pleasure of announcing such a powerful faculty with speakers representing programs ranging from the AMPV to the ULCV.
2015 sessions will cover:
• Future of the Ultra Lightweight Combat Vehicle
• Ultra-Light Tactical Mobility and the Expeditionary Force
• Mine Resistant Ambush Proof Vehicles
• Alternate Vehicle Programs – The Future Fighting Vehicle
• Introducing the AMPV
• DAPRA Presents: The GXV-T
• Army’s Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy
And many more!
Join the vehicles community as they come together to learn best practices, programs and processes for 2015 and beyond. This will be a rare opportunity to speak with such a broad range of program managers, while meeting your future clients within this hard-to-reach military vehicles community. To access the full agenda or to register for the conference, visit http://www.lighttacticalvehiclesummit.com
The Institute for Defense & Government Advancement (IDGA): (www.idga.org) a division of IQPC, is a non‐partisan information‐based organization dedicated to the promotion of innovative ideas in public service and defense through live conferences and events. We bring together speaker panels and events comprised of military and government professionals.
Lately I’ve seen some inconsistencies between who is capitalizing what in certain subject lines and titles.
So, stop. It’s grammar time!
Opinions are divided across stylebooks on what words should be capitalized, but throughout my career I’ve been able to develop a universally-accepted, three-rule guideline:
Always capitalize the first and last word of the subject line/title (you all are perfect with this rule.)
Capitalize any and all words that are four or more letters in length
Do NOT capitalize conjunctions (and, or, but, nor, yet, so, for), articles (a, an, the) and short prepositions (in, to, of, at, by, up, for, off, on).
Here’s a quiz I pulled off the World Wide Web to test you on these rules. Which words do you think should be capitalized in these titles/subject lines?
made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die
the story factor: inspiration, influence, and persuasion through the art of storytelling
fierce conversations: achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time
a funny thing happened on the way to the boardroom: using humor in business speaking
Think on it …
Still thinking ….
Do you know which words to uppercase yet?
Ok, let’s test those skills:
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (to is a short preposition; and is a conjunction)
The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling (through is a preposition, but is capitalized because it is greater than four letters)
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time (one is capitalized because it is an adjective)
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Boardroom: Using Humor in Business Speaking
The most common errors I see are with short words that are not conjunctions, articles, or prepositions. Words such as one, it, its, it’s, him, and own should all be capitalized no matter where they appear in a title.
I hope this helps! Next week a note on prepositions? Email me to let me know what you have questions about.
BONUS: Did you know there’s a name for the the “dot, dot, dot” … you see in emails and other correspondence? It’s called an ellipses (eee-lip-seas), and is used most frequently in writing when summarizing quotations.
“The Military Radar Summit is a truly unique venue … It addresses the entire radar enterprise: emerging customer needs and markets, the latest technology developments and unparalleled networking opportunities with those ready to do business… “
– Dr. Joe Guerci, Fellow and Warren D. White Award Recipient, IEEE
Dr. Guerci, the foremost radar authority, has been the Military Radar Summit’s chairman many times over and has provided us with an exclusive article on the Next Generation of Affordable Smart Antennas. Read the full article here.
A confluence of advances in low cost digitally controllable RF metamaterial-based apertures and real-time embedded cognitive signal processing has afforded a new opportunity to realize a distinctly new and affordable low SWAP smart antenna capability for a multitude of demanding applications from communications to radar. This article, which is co-authored by Dr. Joe Guerci in the Microwave Journal, provides an overview of these enabling advances, their synergistic combination and the new markets that are emerging as a result.
Marketing is simple, right? Everyone is aware of the boxes that need to be checked: Launch a website and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account. Perhaps you assign someone on your business development team the task of maintaining a corporate blog with the goal of posting several times per week. You create a strategy, an agenda and an editorial calendar. Then, you sit back and wait for your plan
to take hold and gain attention, traction and a countless number of clients.
But, sometimes not everything goes to plan. Maybe you hit a plateau of Facebook likes or you realized you’re not quite sure what to post on Twitter. Perhaps you have a sneaking suspicion that no one is reading your blog posts. Slowly, your enthusiasm and interest in your marketing plan dwindles and it’s clear that there is no proven return on investment of your time and resources. You’re not sure anyone is hearing your message and you don’t know how to track your campaigns.
Don’t lose heart. The digital age is among us and establishing your brand online is a must. What you need is a digital marketing plan that includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay Per Click (PPC), content creation, blog integration and social media. Entire marketing firms, such as Cirgenski Marketing, exist to evaluate and execute upon marketing strategies. The firm spends days, weeks and months perfecting marketing plans. You’re not in that business, so why do you expect yourself to be a marketing maven on their level?
Placing your marketing in the hands of experts with the know-how to execute tailored plans is just one reason to consider outsourcing your advertising and branding goals. Outsourcing saves you time. It says you money. Consider that running an effective online marketing campaign will cost you at least $3,000 per month, according to Forbes. The truth is your competitors are most likely spending several times that amount. If that number seems exorbitant to you, keep in mind that hiring an in-house marketing and SEO professional will cost at least $50,000 per year at a base level. An experienced professional will demand upwards of $70,000 depending on your location.
Outsourcing not only saves you money, but it also ensures that your message will be heard. But, there are even more benefits than that. Let’s take a look at the top 5 reasons you should outsource your marketing campaigns.
There’s no need to hire additional personnel when you choose to outsource your marketing. Not only will you save $50k+ in salary and benefits – depending on your location – but you can also avoid or reduce costs spent on office space, overhead and hardware.
Increased time management
Even if you have your own marketing department, outsourcing at least some of your marketing spend will free up your in-house personnel to focus on strategy instead of “busy work.” Your team will have the ability to play to their strengths and focus on branding deliverables as well as the business’s core focus.
The gift of impartiality and neutrality
Sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from your marketing plan. Of course you believe in your product and service – if you didn’t, why would you be in business? By outsourcing your marketing you will have a fresh set of eyes on what you truly have to offer and, conversely, what it is that your clients and/or customers need and want. Outsourced marketing agencies identify and deploy depending upon the company’s goals and its budget alone without being bogged down by a clouded vision.
Expanded talent and creative pool
Your staff can’t do it all. Perhaps they excel at email marketing, but their skillset is not up to par in SEO or PPC. Outsourcing allows you to be more agile on complex projects that require acute understanding on numerous components of the marketing plan. While you might not be able to hire in-house for the functions that you need, outsourcing allows for the ability to enjoy new, innovative and creative ideas and energy at half the cost.
A fresh perspective
This leads to the last benefit of outsourcing: A fresh perspective that is not influenced or handcuffed by an established company culture. It might not be for lack of dedication or ability, or even resources, but perhaps your team may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Oftentimes marketers become too involved with their functions that they forget or are unable to take a step back and analyze their strategies from the customer’s perspective. An outsourcing team often provides the fresh, objective perspective that is so hard to maintain.
It’s clear by now that outsourcing marketing is a viable option. But, who should you trust to handle this very important function? You need a firm who will evaluate your current marketing programs to identify where there are opportunities for optimization.
This includes taking a close look at your top competitors and identifying/developing your differentiation and key advantages over them. If clients already have a marketing plan in place, firms such as Cirgenski Marketing look at key indicators such as the marketing mix and implement solutions to find the best opportunities suitable for your business’s end goals. Next, they develop a customized integrated marketing plan which includes recommendations for the top prioritized marketing initiatives that all will provide the best results. What better outcome is there?
Chief Marketing Officers know the benefits of Big Data. Oftentimes what they don’t know is how to use it. David Rogers and Don Sexton at the Columbia Business School wanted to gain a better understanding of the changing practices among large corporate marketers. What they found was support for the use of new data to drive marketing decisions and measuring ROI and a widespread adoption of new digital tools.
Still, significant gaps exist between conception and execution when it comes to Big Data Marketing efforts and there remains a need to improve on the use of data, the measurement of digital marketing and the assessment of ROI.
Successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions, 91% of senior corporate marketers
Yet, 39% say their own company’s data is collected too infrequently or not in true real-time
A lack of sharing customer data within their own organization is a barrier to effectively measuring marketing ROI, according to 51% of respondents
Around 85% of large corporations maintain brand accounts on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Foursquare
Comparison of the effectiveness of marketing across different digital media is “a major challenge” for 65% of marketers
Financial outcomes where omitted by 37% of respondents when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization
57% of respondents are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis
Brand awareness is the sole measure to evaluate marketing spend for 22% of marketers
Source: Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data: The 2012 BRITE/NYAMA Marketing Transition Study
Have you started thinking about how your company will value and leverage your big data assets? If not, it’s time to play some catch up.
Cross industry businesses have welcomed big data analytics with open arms after seeing its benefits first hand. As proof, the McKinsey Global Institute delves deep into the benefits of big data in their report, “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity.” What they found were five, actionable reasons businesses need to jump into the practice with both feet. Here is what they determined:
1. Big Data Brings Improved Business Models, Products and Services
What’s with the flurry of excitement that accompanies each new generation of the iPad? The folks at Apple are pros at understanding what their customer needs – sometimes even before they do. Manufacturers now use data captured when consumers use their products to improve upon their existing offerings, thereby creating new and improved models that benefit the consumer and push them to buy.
2. Putting A Smile On the Face of Your Stakeholders
Improving transparency leads to improved quality of product and service. Big data can be made readily available to relevant stakeholders, which creates value by reducing search and processing time between departments, according to McKinsey. Big data keeps everyone in your department moving in the same direction.
3. Peek Into Personnel Performance
Upper management will be empowered by the collection of more accurate and detailed personnel performance data that can be reported in real or near real time. Find out instantly your company’s turnover rate or its total number of personnel sick days, according to the report, to try to understand the root causes of certain performance-based issues.
4. Customize Your Customer Experience
You’ve been segmenting your customers for years, but now it’s time to microsegment them. Big data empowers organizations to tailor their products and services to meet the very specific needs of each customer. An example the report gives is tailoring applications on a smartphone based on the owner’s personality.
5. Find the Algorithm Groove
According to McKinsey Global Institute, “Sophisticated analytics can substantially improve decision making, minimize risks, and unearth valuable insights that would otherwise remain hidden.” They site the following examples; tax agencies can flag candidates for further examination or retailers can use algorithms to fine-tune inventories or pricing structures.
Now is the time to jump on the big data bandwagon.
When it comes to sending out a press release, the early bird does not get the worm.
Many public relations and communications professionals operate under the impression that their press release should be sent out as soon as the clock hits 9 a.m. I suggest waiting — and this is why.
Journalists are inundated with hundreds of press releases every single day. It’s easy to gloss over the mass, generic emails in their inbox when sorting through first thing in the morning. It usually takes a typical journo 30 – 45 minutes to check initial morning emails. So, why not send your press release at 10:30 a.m.?
Not only does this allow for you to procrastinate (if that’s what you want to call it) it also allows you one more hour to re-read and possibly re-edit your press release.
Likewise, if your company or client has breaking news during the day and you need to send out your press release right away, I agree it needs to be sent out before close of business. Before you hit “send,” however, consider the highs and lows of a typical work day. Noon to 1:30 p.m. is lunchtime, so avoid the afternoon rush of press releases during this time. Furthermore, many business professionals and journalists are wrapping up their day or fitting in final rewrites of articles starting at 4 p.m. So, the best times to send a press release in the afternoon is between 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
As always, follow-up with a phone call within a few days.
Exciting news from a client (of course I wrote the press release)! Congratulations to Asentra.
HONOLULU, H.I. – Asentra Corporation has been named one of the fastest-growing companies in America by Inc. 500. The company ranked 16th among Advertising and Marketing firms and 98th overall in the annual September list. Asentra Corp., which is one of the largest outsourcers of telemarketing services with more than 200,000 customers worldwide, is the first direct marketing firm to make the list two years in a row. The company saw a 3,040-percentage growth rate in three years and plans to create more than 500 jobs in the U.S. in 2013.
“We are proud to be on the Inc. 500’s list of the top fastest growing private companies in America. We plan to continue to grow and provide the best services to our clients and customers,” said Asentra CEO, Dave Grubler.
Asentra Assurance Plan, a division of Asentra Corp., offers full warranties for mobile devices starting at $14.95 per month. The warranty plan covers iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, tablets and eReaders, and has no deductible or co-pay. Asentra also offers a lemon policy, technical support, an extended, five-year warranty and unlimited claims and yearly usage. Similar plans offered by competitors such as BestBuy and Apple range from $99-$180, with a one-year warranty and co-pay costs starting at $99. Competitor’s plans do not include used handheld devices, liquid and accidental damage or data recovery.
Asentra was founded in 2001 and operates in five different countries with more than 200,000 customers worldwide. It is the fastest-growing company in Hawaii and the fastest-growing direct response agency in the U.S. In 2011, the company’s revenues totaled $8.6 million. It is an Inc. 500 award recipient company with corporate offices in Honolulu, H.I., and regional offices in Connecticut, Florida, North Dakota and California.
Asentra is the highest-rated and most consumer-friendly assurance plan for your cell phone and hand-held appliances. With a 50-year-plus of combined leadership, AAP is a global leader in warrantee and assurance programs. For more than a decade, AAP has revolutionized the extended warranty & assurance program industry while maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction. For more information, visit http://www.Asentra.com.