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Articles that may be of interest ...

Articles in reverse date order:

  1. How Fast Does Your Company Respond to Enquiries? Jennifer Lancaster June 07 2016
  2. Personalise for a 'Sweet' Customer Experience Jennifer Lancaster June 01 2016



How Fast Does Your Company Respond to Enquiries?:

By: Jennifer Lancaster | June 07, 2016 12:06 PM

It seems that speed of reply to lead or general enquiries is of the essence for customer-centric businesses. Harvard Business Review research shows that if you don’t respond to a lead enquiry within an hour, the drop-off rate dies dramatically.

Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried an hour later, and 60 times more likely to make that conversation work than if they took 24 hours! 

Studying 2,241 disparate corporations in the US, Harvard Business Review found that just on half of the companies either took longer than 24 hours to respond or failed to respond to an enquiry. 

One of the reasons that only 233 of these companies followed up within an hour was the fault of their systems and the practice of retrieving leads from CRM systems’ databases daily rather than in real time.

One fix is to have an automated task that alerts the assigned customer agent that an enquiry has just come in.

Another reason the companies, who were also big advertisers, were slow to follow up was because salespeople were busy generating their own leads, i.e. Outbound calls and visits. It makes little sense to let hot online leads slip through their fingers after paying to advertise, and yet this is what often happens, even in bigger companies.

Here in Australia, an old 2012 survey found that companies responding to customer questions via Facebook was more reliable than on Twitter, with 68% replying on Facebook. Even though many of these companies had huge followings, only 19% actually replied through Twitter, albeit slowly.

Startup Smart offered this great advice on replying comprehensively:

“Your ability to respond and keep track of social enquiries may be made easier and faster by using one system that can integrate social media with your other customer support channels (phone, email, chat)”

 There are a few systems around that can do this well, many of them ranging in the hundreds of dollars per month, however Zoho CRM (at Professional level and above) offers this social media integration from only US$20 per user per month.

 A lot more can be done about customer enquiry speed and efficiency with tools like SalesIQ, a web real time chat program by Zoho. Another way is through automated sending of email enquiries to the customer service agent on roster. 



  1. http://www.startupsmart.com.au/advice/sales-and-marketing/how-to-provide-great-customer-service-through-social-media/
  2. http://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/online/24626-the-stealth-social-media-test-that-found-australian-retailers-respond-to-customer-enquiries-better-on-facebook-than-twitter/
  3. HBR  https://hbr.org/2011/03/the-short-life-of-online-sales-leads


Personalise for a 'Sweet' Customer Experience

By: Jennifer Lancaster | June 01, 2016 12:03 PM

Why Personalise?

A person’s name is one of the sweetest sounds to them. As long as it's not overused, incorporating the person´s name, company, industry, or interest in your marketing subtly draws that individual in.

With more and more initial sales research being done through information and blogs online, the conversations the customer service agent finally gets to have must provide that personal touch. If there is no phone-based agent, then email campaigns must allude to the fact that:

  1. This customer is important, and
  2. We recognise your interest and needs, and are offering products or solutions to suit.

In contrast, mass marketing and generic product offerings fall on deaf ears. 

IBSA (Business Skills Australia, 2014) notes that Australian companies in business services increasingly look to provide a customer centric approach across the whole organisation. ´Customer centricity´ is about satisfying the customer’s needs while trying to add value to their lives.

When buying a fridge and washer recently, I encountered this approach from a customer agent. He was personable, helpful, took in my feedback and remembered it, and reiterated the great deal I was getting. He also took time to talk me through the delivery process and make sure I kept the instruction manuals which come in the boxes.

This type of approach could easily be replicated company wide, with the help of CRM notes or reminders that the agent can see when on the telephone.

Personalised Marketing Avenues

Many businesses already personalise emails with a customer’s first name. You can also insert any field merge tag in your CRM account (should you have one) just by adding relevant merge tags in your email’s content. Of course, you need to be cautious in placing the merge tags in text, and provide an alternative if there is no field filled out.

I rather like it when a company uses a CRM field creatively, perhaps as a promotion but with a fun vibe. Behaviour-based recommendations are also very common, targeting your interests once you have selected some books/widgets.

Other personalised marketing includes offering ‘similar content’ ebooks on the bottom of a blog post--or as a pop-up--that relates to the page that person is viewing. A web-to-lead form can offer content to the visitor, which then goes into your CRM for later campaigns (this is a feature of SalesIQ--Zoho).

Qualifying a Customer

When we talk about qualifying the customer, it really means finding the right person or company, one which can afford your services or product. There’s a lot of tools out there for this, and when combined with soft skills and automated programs, it will make your sales job much easier.

If you view visitors on your website in real-time with SalesIQ (by Zoho), then customer agents can understand what the visitor might be needing (judging by page views) and whether they are from a country or region you serve, before any chat initiates. Then, when the chat window is activated, your canned message or normal response can be more appropriate to that visitor.

SalesIQ shows if they’ve been to your site before, so this helps when connecting and qualifying interest. (The system also seems friendly by showing a name and avatar of the customer representative).

For those who don’t offer customer service in real time, then capturing and responding to email interest and social media questions quickly is the most crucial first step. By quickly, we do mean within an hour for retailers, or 24 hours for business services.

You can make this easier and faster with some social integration, e.g. capturing leads from Twitter and Facebook straight into your CRM, and similarly, web-to-lead forms which bring web enquiries straight into your CRM system. (Capture leads from Twitter/Facebook is available in Zoho Professional and Enterprise). Being able to see the previous conversations via the Zoho platform will also allow your customer agent to see what’s going on in Facebook without being on Facebook.

Quick changing of email templates is also very useful when it comes to customising each week’s marketing campaigns. The ability to change a template without programming allows the marketing person to update it themselves with the new pictures and words. Zoho Campaigns has this facility, and you also have this feature in standard Zoho but with varying limits on mass emails.

If you want to achieve a sweet customer experience, then it pays to 'integrate' all your e-marketing, CRM /contact data, and website visitor tracking, so that it's all talking to each other. This allows your representatives to see exactly what the prospect or customer wants, so they can tailor the messaging to them.