Over the last few years, BDCs went from absolutely “nailing it” to becoming a ghost town or shutting down. Might I suggest several significant reasons for re-opening and/or expanding your BDC?
First, let’s abandon the stereotype of a BDC just being a room of people making phone calls and leaving voicemails. Obviously, a BDC is much more than that; it must be efficient, prepared and progressive.
What I mean by progressive is, it must include real live chat with a professional yet non-confrontational business card drop down and friendly, anonymous greeting. Required fields are a huge turn off. Just think for a moment of the fact that the average American has four or more email addresses. Which do you think they give us? Statistics show that mid to late morning and early afternoon are the most intensive periods of live chat traffic. Why? Because they are at work! They can look as though they are working, typing away while we set appointments, capture all necessary data and differentiate ourselves. They don’t want to or can’t call or send emails from work, but they can appear busy, while completely captivated by our conversations.
When, not if, we break through the anonymity, we must make note of essential situational needs analysis and rapport based observations. To include, but not be limited to the customer’s personality type, smart phone or cell phone; etc. So we are consistent in our common communication. The use of smart phones is indispensible for the most successful centralized, virtual and hybrid BDCs.
How quickly do you respond to a text vs. an e-mail? Quickly, right? So do prospective customers. So, with proper training, your people can get their attention by sending a picture of the representative or manager they are to see. Sending them a photo will lower their anxiety and raise your appointment to show ratio by giving them a (smiling) face with a name, the easiest directions and their confirmation number and time. Why a confirmation number? To activate it with their driver’s license upon arrival, meet managers early and give the rep time to prepare for the demo. This ensures presentations lead to demos 87% more often.
Remember, the number one fear in our business is pulling up to group of sales reps ready to pounce. Having an appointment with someone specific gives them a feeling of importance and “protection” from the “door birds.”
Suggestions: Train communication, influence, persuasion and selling skills, not just scripts or rebuttals. Answer your active live chat in five seconds or less. Respond to e-mails sensibly in five minutes or less and call them!
I refer to this as my “Self Barometer” technique. By this I mean gauge each type of e-mail, voicemail, text, etc., by how we would respond. We then have an idea of how they will resonate with our customers. If you call for information having a preconceived notion of an industry such as ours, how do you feel when you are met with generic, scripted and insincere sounding responses? Do you read e-mails that are long or “put them off until later?” How do you feel when your questions are deflected, or even worse, when your call is not returned?
The “Self Barometer” technique works. Reliance on scripts, just marking activities off as complete or using canned, bogus and irrelevant emails is seen in a different light. Why? Because people forget half of what we say or do, but they never forget how we made them feel!
Here are some things I strongly suggest to improve your BDC:
- Headsets to avoid workers comp issues, listen in (live) features and the same 100% TO policy as on the sales floor. The worst conversation we can have when developing business is “Why they didn’t schedule an appointment!” This goes for sales, service, call backs, leads and follow up.
- Appointment blinders: with business development appointments that show, sell and refer, it is all about selling the show! Sell the show with your differentiating “Information Day,” the sizzle and the subconscious techniques that have people commit to show. This is done by presenting a hypothetical scenario or question without the old school front lobe “yes” questions. Make them think about it, answer and watch the follow through increase every time they do it better.
- Specific time appointments, not just: 15/45 after the hour. If someone is asking for 4:00, try “I’m checking my manager’s appointment schedule and he/she has a 4:10 available.” Have them write it down and then confirm via text. They may forget to bring the confirmation number they wrote down, but they are most likely to have their cell phone with them.
- A rating system and protection period: Have a customer care “advocate” they don’t meet in person and follow up with your customers. We can drive “be backs,” gain referrals, ensure service and have a preview of your CSI. Start with the last 90 days and go back from there.
Pay plans are different, but I urge you to consider paying for production of shows. That means kept appointments and not paying business development or customer care representatives on sales; they will not cherry pick and will shed light their strongest and weakest points. In the end, it’s your choice.