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Marketing Services

The Support Report

1 Aug, 2008 By: Doug McPherson Response

Experts in teleservices, fulfillment and shipping, and payment processing explain what DR marketers need to know to raise profits, lower headaches and ... much more.

Another example of tapping technology to crumble barriers to sales, Fisher says, is "secure exchange technology." This allows callers to input or receive sensitive data without intervention by the call center, so customers don't have to fear a call center employee using their credit cards, for example.

LiveOps learned last year that only 17 percent of the 2,698 respondents to a survey felt the phone was the most secure way to give vendors sensitive data. (The best was a secure Web site at 55 percent. Traditional mail barely edged the phone for second place at 19 percent.)

Calls with secure exchange technology are typical until credit cards, PINs or social security numbers are discussed. Then the agent directs the call to a system that walks the caller through required steps and reads the information to the caller or takes it from the caller, as necessary. The caller can ask for the agent's help, and the agent monitors call progress (though not its content) throughout.

Fisher says secure exchange is like punching credit card info into the checkout-line keypad at the grocery store — the cashier can't see your information. His advice to DR pros looking at teleservices support: "Really understand your goals, that's the most important thing. Look at what's going to drive your campaign to be successful and work closely with the call center — each campaign is very different."

Walz says technologies continue to evolve in teleservices, including better quality interactive voice recognition (IVR) solutions for lead generation and sales campaigns. And she says using customer satisfaction measurement tools can help understand which solutions, such as live or hybrid, will best serve customers.

Walz recommends a mix of live agent support and self service to "flatten out" call curves for the teleservices provider. "This enables quality of the live agent pool to increase, while shaving off the peak of the call curve to be handled by IVR speech technology," she says. "As the DR marketer measures call handling, they need to look at how many unique customers were actually handled by either a live agent or the speech agent, not just those handled by a hold message."

Tracking the Packing

On the packaging and fulfillment side of support, technology has clearly left a footprint with real-time inventory tracking and financial management systems, data storage, analysis and innovative shipping options.

"Real time is the new buzz!" says Nicola de la Salle, vice president, strategic business development and West Coast Operations for Thill Logistics/Customer Service Direct, a Wisconsin-based fulfillment and customer service center. "Now, if a company doesn't have an online full-scale order processing and order inquiry interface, it is behind the times. All order processing now has to be in real time for both marketers and their consumers."

According to de la Salle, the top fulfillment houses are all integrating with call center and Web order companies to "ensure that all orders are received and processed in real time, and that the consumer receives up to date information through E-mail confirmations and updates." Marketers are now demanding real-time reporting for this reason among many others.

"Inventory deficit has typically been the bane of many fulfillment houses, but using the real-time reporting to check inventory and allowing the fulfillment house to place orders directly with the factory/ supplier, this can be a past concern," de la Salle adds.

Chris Rebholz, president of Wisconsin-based Christopher Morgan Fulfillment, agrees, saying DR folks too often overlook a simple, yet key, task: planning.

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