Fielding Inbound Calls
Fielding inbound calls are an intimate 1-on-1 interaction with the consumer that contributes to the success of a growing business.
Hosted by Kevin Dieny
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[00:00:00] Kevin Dieny: Hello, welcome to the Close The Loop podcast. Today, we’re going to be talking about fielding inbound calls. And to dive deep into this exciting subject is Matt Widmyer. He’s a colleague of ours. He has been working with me here for a while, and, but he’s proceeded me at the CallSource for, you know, quite a few quite a while.
[00:00:21] Kevin Dieny: How long have you been here Matt?
[00:00:22] Matt Widmyer: Going on 10 years here. Yeah this is… a long time.
[00:00:28] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. And one of the great things he does in our team is he manages a bunch of call handlers. He manages a team. We, uh, their roles are, you know, encompassing the SDR. They take inbound and they work outbound. And so I thought he’d be a really great person we could talk to about managing the inbound side, managing how, you know, call handlers are taking calls.
[00:00:51] Kevin Dieny: Not only that we, you know, drink from our own, well, here we use all of our products to achieve this. And so we’ll be talking about all the things Matt’s doing, everything you can do in your business to better field inbound calls. So, Matt, this is just off the cuff here.
[00:01:10] Kevin Dieny: Why do you think we’re talking about this?
[00:01:13] Matt Widmyer: Because we are trying… there is… this is a podcast about attribution, right? So money is being spent to drum up leads and they’re going into this process of fielding, and talking to these leads. So yeah, if money’s gonna be spent, we want to make sure it’s going into a good system. So yeah, this is absolutely, um, important that we, that we dive into the subject because not, you know, it doesn’t happen a lot.
[00:01:37] Kevin Dieny: Correct. Yeah. I also see it as if a business is growing and you take phone calls today. If you’re planning on growing, that should mean that more calls should be coming in, hopefully. That, that hopefully does equal, that more people are looking for you and your business. As you expand, as you grow, as you add to your offerings and to your products, your services, as you add more locations, as you add, you know, greater accessibility to consumers, patients, and whoever it is that you’re going after.
[00:02:06] Kevin Dieny: And phone calls are really unique. I think that’s something we also quickly want to highlight in the beginning here. Is how unique a phone call is, and that is unique amongst all the conversion types. All the ways you interact with the consumer. And there’s a lot, right? There’s emails, there’s social media, there’s chats, there’s in person.
[00:02:28] Kevin Dieny: You can interact with someone in a zoom virtual meeting. You can have someone on the phone and you can have some buddy who you’re texting with someone who completes like a form or a letter, direct mail, like hear you on the radio, the television. There’s so many ways. I’d say a consumer of yours could potentially interact with your business.
[00:02:50] Kevin Dieny: In a phone call, it has a lot of unique components to it. So Matt, did you want to touch on any of those? What makes a phone call so unique compared to other things?
[00:03:00] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, so we live in the age of research, right? So every decision we make is not calling up and not knowing anything. I feel like most people, they do their investigative research before even picking up the phone and deciding to call.
[00:03:14] Matt Widmyer: By the time they’ve got to that point they’re far better and they want, they want help right then and there. They, they don’t want to get put on some callback list or something like that. Otherwise it would just fill out a form on the website or, you know, a contact me form if they’re picking up their phone and making it a point to go through whatever menus and everything you have set up to talk to somebody that they’re wanting to get something done.
[00:03:41] Kevin Dieny: I think a lot of businesses that don’t have phone calls, there’s a good reason for not having it. I mean, it’s costly to have people who are going to take the calls. You also have to make them available for either your business hours or 24 7 from whatever you’re going to do. So you may have to find a call center.
[00:03:56] Kevin Dieny: You may have to, you know, hire someone to be able to take those phone calls. And then there’s the performance of that person, the training, making sure they know all the products and services you have. You don’t want that to be the gap you’re spending all this money on, marketing, like Matt said, and then no one’s, no one’s setting appointments, no one’s buying your stuff.
[00:04:16] Kevin Dieny: So there are companies who are like, ah, it’s easier for me just to not have a phone call, just to not have a phone number and consumers go, well, how do I contact this business? What do I have to do? I have to submit my request in writing. Do I, what do I have to do? And it’s just so costly, but it’s also such an intimate place to talk to a consumer.
[00:04:35] Kevin Dieny: In my opinion, it’s possibly the best conversion type that exists. Because you have them in real time, you can ask them questions, you can find out from them exactly in their words, what is going on. They’re not, there’s not form fields for them to populate and fill out. It’s, you know, obviously they’re not going to be able to select from a dropdown of options.
[00:04:57] Kevin Dieny: They’re going to just tell you straight what their problems they are having, what thing they’re looking for, why they bother to make that call. A lot of people are anxious about calling a business, calling someone, and they’re like, oh, I don’t want to have to talk to someone. What if they try to sell to me, there’s all this anxiety around a call too.
[00:05:13] Kevin Dieny: So it’s a loaded thing. So on the business end, Matt, why do you think businesses today are failing at handling and fielding inbound calls?
[00:05:23] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I think, they don’t have the infrastructure for the calls to go into. They have not, um, went through a formal process and uh developed to any kind of a, protocol for how these calls should be handled. Right.
[00:05:38] Matt Widmyer: We don’t know who a great customer is to work with versus a really bad customer. Some of these businesses might be turning people away for one reason or another. Maybe they don’t provide a service. Maybe they’re missing the mark. I think the due diligence beforehand, when you decide, Hey, I’m going to spend money on marketing.
[00:05:55] Matt Widmyer: The due diligence needs to be done on the front end, before that happens. A lot of people make the mistake of spending a ton of marketing before they have a nice operational system for these leads to fall into. So what happens is they end up with a lot of angry customers right out of the gate. They end up with some quick learnings and hopefully they’re able to apply those before its too late.
[00:06:20] Matt Widmyer: But yeah, I think just the main reason why a lot of businesses struggle is because the focus is too much on like, Hey, how can we make the most money in the shortest amount of time possible? And you will, you’ll get, you know, you’ll get customers even go through a poor experience that will still end up being customers.
[00:06:35] Matt Widmyer: You’re not gonna, you know, you’re not gonna miss all of them, but I feel like these are the things that need to be kind of like, you know, give everybody a similar yet, somewhat unique experience based on whatever situation they have.
[00:06:47] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, inbound is unique in itself.
[00:06:51] Kevin Dieny: It’s a different than outbound, which is it’s, you know, there’s two things. There’s people are either coming to you or you’re going after them. So what, what really comes down to the difference there between an inbound fielding of calls and an outbound calling strategy?
[00:07:07] Matt Widmyer: Yeah. So the outbound is you’re telling them basically whatever you want them to hear and inbound is there’s a lot more variables involved, right?
[00:07:15] Matt Widmyer: So we have to kind of a little bit wild and unexpected at times, and you have to kind of wrangle it in and distill down, see if whatever pain point, the potential customer calling in, if that’s something you’re able to help with. And then, you need to be able to get, be able to get, verify their information.
[00:07:33] Matt Widmyer: On an outbound perspective, you’re presenting solutions versus trying to figure out what solution. So you’re coming with, your anticipating that they might have some sort of an issue. And you’re presenting a couple proactively presenting a couple solutions, to their potential problem.
[00:07:52] Matt Widmyer: The idea of an outbound is you’re kind of loosening up the status quo and from an inbound perspective there, something is going on that they need help with. So a little bit too, from an inbound perspective, there’s a lot more variables, I think.
[00:08:07] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. And you can only control so much around the kind of quality of calls they’re going to get inbound. They could come from a lot of places. So if we were to take what a business can do to set up their inbound team. To set up everyone who is taking calls in the best possible way.
[00:08:26] Kevin Dieny: So everything that you’re going to do before they start taking calls, like the pre-call stuff you could do, what kinds of things help a team be prepared for taking inbound calls?
[00:08:36] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, sure. So there’s a few different things you can do. Some of the things that we have in place are, we practice, we role-play with potential customers and kind of do a mock inbound phone calls.
[00:08:48] Matt Widmyer: This piece is a little bit more important. It’s a little more of a, like a handle with care type thing versus an outbound approach. Right. So you’ll, you’ll want practice. You’ll definitely want role-playing in there. But I think a nice little, you know, always running in the background way to control the quality is, but to have some sort of a scorecard.
[00:09:07] Matt Widmyer: And you know, this is my plug for what we do here as a company, but, there are best practices on what should be should and should not be said, over the phone.
[00:09:18] Matt Widmyer: A quick and easy way of QA’ing calls, is having call handlers measured, in terms of what they’re saying versus what should be said in the best case scenario. And then that way we can identify skill gaps and work with our teams on how to get better.
[00:09:35] Kevin Dieny: That’s a really good point. The idea of the scorecard, right. Is what kinds of things do you break down the call? What kinds of things do we want said either in the beginning, what kinds of things do we want said in the middle and the end? And obviously an inbound call can go in a lot of directions.
[00:09:50] Kevin Dieny: There’s a lot of things, where that call could go. It could be towards sales, support. It could be a wrong call. Wrong dialer could be someone trying to sell. It could be someone trying to reach a family member or trying to get hired. There’s so many possibilities for calls. Once that phone rings, it’s like picking it up and roulette’ing, okay.
[00:10:07] Kevin Dieny: What kind of a caller am I going to get right now? And there’s so much going there. Are, are you when you, when we talk about scorecards, are we talking about scripts?.
[00:10:16] Matt Widmyer: Not necessarily scripts. I think the only thing you could really script on the inbound or outbound conversation is really the first thing you’re gonna say to them, the positioning statement.
[00:10:25] Matt Widmyer: Right? So, um, you can absolutely open with something as you should. So that way, again, all guests get a similar experience. So, hi, thanks for calling X, Y, and Z. This is Matt. How can I help you today? Or some other businesses? How can, how can I brighten your smile today? Or how can I make you feel better or whatever it is, um, it’s that, you know, around that company’s brand.
[00:10:49] Matt Widmyer: So they have specifics, in terms of what to say and what not to say.
[00:10:54] Kevin Dieny: There’s some, the way I like to look at it is, especially in it. And it’s all, it’s all the way through marketing too. Every time you’ve got a customer, every time you get their attention, you get a few seconds of their time. That whatever you’re delivering to them, that value has to be able to sell them for the next, five 10 seconds.
[00:11:13] Kevin Dieny: And so you’re constantly making sure that you’re listening, attentive, providing value. You’re asking the right questions, asking questions, you’re trying to solve their problem. You’re trying to figure out what the problem is. You’re like, it could be a lot of things, but essentially every five, 15, whatever seconds it is of every interaction with the consumer.
[00:11:33] Kevin Dieny: With the caller at the other end, has to sell the next block of time. And you mentioned the prop the proposition that the value statements, sometimes we call it the greeting. And you did say parts of the greeting that could make it more effective. So what were those things again, that a business may be thinking, well, how should my team be greeting callers when they call inbound?
[00:11:53] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I think it should be a combination of introducing your, yourself and the company who they’re speaking with. Making sure that they have the right company is a good first step.
[00:12:03] Matt Widmyer: And then, diagnosing it or at least beginning to diagnose whatever it is that they’re calling you about. Right. Which is how can I help you today is, is a perfect way to just, you know, inquire about that.
[00:12:14] Kevin Dieny: So there are certain things you can also do pre-call to make sure that calls are being sorted and managed or distributed in the correct ways. And those things are like IVR there’s on hold. Can you explain what IVR technology does and is, and what its purpose is for.
[00:12:32] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I might botch this, but I think IVR is, interactive voice, routing? Maybe I got that right. Interactive Voice… Response. Ah, almost there. Interactive voice response. All this stuff, by the way, before we were talking about what to say on the phone, all that stuff, all the technologies should be working and in place, and it should be tested before. Before you spend any money on any kind of campaigns.
[00:12:55] Matt Widmyer: Right? So all that needs to be tested. So this is really the first step. Yeah, the routing and the reason for these menus is it limits the amounts and the types of calls that specific departments get. Right? If you’re calling a dentist office, maybe they have, an extension for either.
[00:13:13] Matt Widmyer: If you’re an existing customer, press one. If you’re a new customer, press two, completely different questions that are gonna be asked, on those two phone calls. I mean, you’re going to get some of the same. You are verifying, the name, the information, all that stuff, but some of it’s going to be different.
[00:13:27] Matt Widmyer: I went through this, experience firsthand here when I started managing the inbound lead team. Everything was routing to one person and then that one person was manually routing it out to, some sales teams, some was to the support team and it just seemed like a lot.
[00:13:43] Matt Widmyer: It seemed like a little bit of a bottleneck because if that one person, you know, a lot of businesses might have more than one person doing it. But if that one person was to get up and go to the restroom or something like that, we’re missing that call. Right.
[00:13:56] Matt Widmyer: It preserves bandwidth and doesn’t disrupt the day from, from the, businesses end either. Doesn’t, we don’t want to keep getting interrupted from calls that we’ll just have to route forward, manually anyway.
[00:14:08] Matt Widmyer: We want to, make sure we optimize the calls that we’re getting. And in terms of like, if, if you have a sales team working on leads and feeling inbound leads, those leads are an interruption inherently to whatever it is they’re doing. If they’re doing outbound or whatever. We want to make sure that we’re not, you know, just creating extra noise at their desk, for no reason, right?
[00:14:33] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, exactly. And depending on the size of their teams, there’s another thing that’s really important and you’ve touched on it and that’s coverage. So can you explain coverage, why that’s important for a business, and making sure that they’re fielding as many inbound calls as possible?
[00:14:49] Matt Widmyer: The short version is if you don’t pick up your phone, they’re going to call the next business, look down the list.
[00:14:56] Matt Widmyer: Most people will just Google a company. If you don’t know any, anything better, or if you haven’t been referred to a company. And if you’re trying to solve a problem, if you call business A and they don’t pick up their phone and says a lot about business, A. Might not have all their ducks in a row.
[00:15:10] Matt Widmyer: That’s really their first impression of you as a business. Right? The coverage, it should be one of those first things that’s addressed. You don’t really know how many calls you’re going to get till you start marketing. So it’s kind of like the anticipation of it.
[00:15:23] Matt Widmyer: You have to always account for it. So the coverage includes everything from operating hours, to what time people are taking breaks and lunch breaks and all that stuff out. You have to have overlap. You should never have everybody away during business hours and the exact same time. It doesn’t make sense for coverage.
[00:15:41] Matt Widmyer: And you’re going to upset your customers too.
[00:15:44] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, there are some really great ways that you can assess your inbound team. And there are some really good metrics for that. We’ve talked about the scorecard, like how are the calls being handled?
[00:15:54] Kevin Dieny: There are other things like how long, is a caller waiting on hold. How long are they spending? How many have gone through the IVR? How many are going into my voicemails? How many are straight up missed? Meaning they just hang up. They don’t end up in a voicemail. They don’t end up talking to somebody. You know, how, how many calls are we getting an easy way?
[00:16:14] Kevin Dieny: Maybe just how many calls are we getting where the duration of the call is very short. And so those are kind of indicators that there might be something up. There might be something that could be improved. And for instance, like, uh so Matt, if you’re getting a ton of voicemails and like, how would you go about assessing that for inbound calls?
[00:16:34] Matt Widmyer: Well the voicemail, yeah. So it’s a staffing issue. A bunch of things are going to voicemail.
[00:16:38] Matt Widmyer: So those voicemails, as soon as they hit voicemails as your first priority, before you do one more thing, one more thing, call those people back. You listen to the voicemail, write down the information, call the person back. Most people don’t want to, you know, is in terms of being on hold. By the time something’s gone to voicemail, unfortunately has already gone that far, uh they might already be on their way to the next business.
[00:17:01] Matt Widmyer: And that’s even if they even leave a voicemail to start with. So every once in a while, if we see a missed call, but they do not leave a voicemail, we’ll call those back and just make sure that they got whatever help it was that they needed. But it could also be the same people calling multiple times about the same thing.
[00:17:18] Matt Widmyer: So if you have this, if you have an issue of people going to voicemails. And sometimes it’s the same person calling back a couple of different times, which obviously isn’t a great customer experience and that’s something you’re going to want to try to avoid as well.
[00:17:31] Kevin Dieny: So maybe the last question before we get into even more into what’s going on, you know, when you’re on the call with someone, is the distribution aspect, like how it’s routed, to who it’s routed.
[00:17:41] Kevin Dieny: There’s things like round robin. There’s things like, you know, it always goes to this person, but then after that there’s maybe a, you know, a daisy chain of things where it’s going to go down a line and call each person if they don’t pick up or there’s the free for all. So what what are your comments or thoughts on those different methods of, you know, distributing the calls to a team?
[00:18:02] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, so there’s no perfect solution for this because anytime you have one thing, I mean that what there’s a def cause every business might have a different definition of what’s fair and what’s not fair. The difference between what’s fair and what needs to happen is also different too. People don’t want to be hearing the phone ring.
[00:18:20] Matt Widmyer: People don’t want to be transferred. People don’t want to be on hold for a long time. Most of the things I’ve read says most people aren’t, you know, two to three minutes is the breaking point where they basically decide that the business doesn’t know what they’re doing. And they’re scrambling around looking for something to do after the two minute mark.
[00:18:36] Matt Widmyer: So we want to keep those as low as possible. So one of the things. That we’ve done too. That has dramatically improved our coverage. Uh, never been better in the history, probably this company. Well, before I was here is we now have everyone on my team that, manages inbound calls. We have everybody’s phone ringing simultaneously. First person that gets it, gets it.
[00:19:00] Matt Widmyer: I know it might seem a little unfair because you can technically just sit there and wait for calls all day, but you you’re held accountable for outbound activities too. So you’re never going to make everything you need to do off of inbound calls. We’ve tried the round robin thing.
[00:19:13] Matt Widmyer: The disadvantage of the round robin thing is it will, it will go route first, usually depending on what phone system you’re using, but, um, You can route first to the person who picks up the least amount of calls.
[00:19:27] Matt Widmyer: So it tags them first, which is a little counterintuitive too, right. Because if they’re not picking up, if they’re picking up less phone calls and everybody else, why are we going to them first? Right. We should be doing almost the opposite and going to the people who are picking up the most. Right. So we know that the coverage is there.
[00:19:43] Matt Widmyer: So right now, yeah, whoever gets it gets in. And if you’re not quick enough, then, then work on that and to work on your speed, I guess. The round robin thing, another disadvantage of that method too, is, If it doesn’t get picked up by one person it’ll ring two or three times, and each ring is about five seconds.
[00:19:59] Matt Widmyer: Right. So if it rings to one person, it usually rings two to three times. So that’s 10 to 15 seconds. If that person is unavailable or they’re on another line or if they’re already on a call. It’ll ring to the next person, so they could go through another ring cycle of 10 to 15 seconds.
[00:20:16] Matt Widmyer: And if that person’s available, then it goes to the next person, or maybe it goes to voicemail at that point. By that time they’re, they’re already frustrated. There’ll be beyond frustrated. Right. So right now I don’t even hear the phone ring half the time. Because it gets picked up so quickly. I mean, that’s, that’s the best customer.
[00:20:33] Matt Widmyer: That’s the best customer experience you can offer is, you know, you know, being on it right away like that.
[00:20:39] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. So there’s a lot that can, that happens now during the call, you’ve connected with this caller. One of the first things I wanted to ask you at this point is the difference between callers who are interested in like a sales aspect, becoming a new patient, becoming a customer, wanting to inquire about getting quotes.
[00:20:59] Kevin Dieny: Possibly just inquiring about the products and services that are offered, versus anything else. Let’s call the, uh, everything else may be support career HR family. There’s a huge bucket there. So there’s sales and then there’s everything else. So what what, what are the differences in the types of calls in those two groups of calls?
[00:21:18] Matt Widmyer: Differences in terms of how it’s being routed or differences of like how they’re handled?
[00:21:22] Kevin Dieny: In the, let’s say the first, like 30 seconds of the call, like, how are those calls going to be handled differently by the team who’s fielding inbound?
[00:21:31] Matt Widmyer: Got it. Yeah. So the, again, the initial is just assessing needs and diagnosing. We’ll want to collect, we don’t want to get too far into information collecting, then find out later in the call that, okay, this isn’t something we, we don’t become close to doing something like they are offering the service or whatever.
[00:21:47] Matt Widmyer: If we’re going to ask somebody for something, we just want to give a little bit in return and let them, or at least let them know why we’re asking. Good example is can I have, uh, kind of the number, the best number to call you back at in case this call gets disconnected.
[00:21:59] Matt Widmyer: Right? So, um, that’s always a good one to ask, but I think, just them answering your question of how can we help you today? Well, kind of, you know, take, if you take note of what it is you’re asking for. You know, whatever it is that you provide, if we’re on the same page. Cool. I’ll know that it kind of goes in this bucket.
[00:22:17] Matt Widmyer: If it’s all I want to talk to my wife or who who ordered a pizza or whatever, I mean, that’s obviously in a different bucket. And then, um, those you can put on hold and, and figure out what to do with it. You know, it’s not, as, I think those things are a little bit, lower priority than customers calling in. All depending on what the wife’s talking about or what kind of pizza it is.
[00:22:38] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, yeah. I mean, right now we’re kind of getting to the point where we’re talking about businesses who have a handful of phone calls. They’re getting some phone calls. I think it does make a difference.
[00:22:51] Kevin Dieny: If we’re talking about businesses who are getting, you know, single digit calls versus double digit, versus triple, quadruple, whatever, the volume of calls you’re getting. Right. How many can you afford to let go of? How many can you afford to mismanage? How many, if the, if you only getting like a couple of calls a day, if you miss one, now that’s a huge percentage of your overall calls that are being missed.
[00:23:12] Kevin Dieny: And the bigger the volume is, it seems easier to be like, ah, yeah, you know, letting a few calls go here or there. But it does add up over time. There is a big difference that, even one missed call can make. Especially if that meant that call represents a potential sale for a business or, a client who’s gonna be upset or something like that.
[00:23:31] Kevin Dieny: So now at this point during the call how do you coach and train call handlers? At this point, I mean, after the beginning, the call goes in radical different directions. So how can you coach and train a team on like the calls in the middle of the call or, you know, for the full length of it, how do you help them to better handle these calls?
[00:23:53] Kevin Dieny: So the calls aren’t lasting, I don’t know, 20 minutes taking up all their time, but at the same time, they’re helping and delivering value to the caller?
[00:24:01] Matt Widmyer: Yeah. So it’s, again, I will go back to the scorecard because that’s, it’s not the end all be all right, because there’s other things like tonality, how you pick up the phone, the enthusiasm you show and stuff like that. Not all of these are gradable things are a little bit more subjective, not objective, but the objective stuff.
[00:24:19] Matt Widmyer: Yeah. We have a laundry list. There’s probably 30 things on our score card. Things that should be asked or at least mentioned on the phone call. You need to hold your call handlers, accountable for those 30 things. Now, a little bit tough for somebody in the beginning, right. They should be familiar with what they’re being.
[00:24:37] Matt Widmyer: If you’re going to want someone to play the game, you’re gonna have to teach them the rules. Right. Especially early on their tenure or even the seasoned people print out a copy of the score card and know these things.
[00:24:47] Matt Widmyer: And then typically what you see is, once you do that, you have somebody just reading down the list, making sure they check all the boxes then comes the art of the conversation. Right. Having a two-way dialogue, not an interrogation interrogative interview of the person.
[00:25:02] Matt Widmyer: That’s not what we’re trying to do either. Ask a little bit, give a little bit, ask a little bit, give a little bit. You’ll be able to find out by doing this QA method of the scorecard thing, you’ll be able to, narrow it down to one or two things. Because it’s, it’s really the difference between cookie cutter general training that could apply to anybody and specifically what is going on with that one individual.
[00:25:24] Matt Widmyer: Cool thing about that is too, if they’re struggling with something and if everybody’s being measured the same way, one person is struggling with something that somebody else on your team happens to be very good at, just pair them up and have them listen to a couple of their phone calls and see how they address those things or see the, the way they ask those kinds of questions.
[00:25:43] Matt Widmyer: Because it’s not, again, we’re not reading off a script for every single of these questions. We just want to be able to get answers to a lot of these things that we need or get information where it is needed. We don’t want to do, overkill overkill, the amount of questions we asked and the things we do. I know I said, you know, it’s between 20 and 30 questions or items of information that we need on our end, but that doesn’t mean we need to ask every single one.
[00:26:09] Matt Widmyer: Right. A lot of it could be implied, with some of the conversation that’s happening. So if it’s implied then we really need to ask it. If you see their number, come up on caller ID, you can just verify it. You don’t have to ask from scratch what their number is. Just little tricks like that, you know, in terms of, email address, all that stuff, he kind of needed to get some of that.
[00:26:28] Matt Widmyer: If, you know, whatever, your, whatever type of business you have for whatever the most important things are, if you’re planning on remarketing, then yeah. Even no matter what happens on the phone, you’ll at least have that as a safety net. If you get their email address or their phone number.
[00:26:43] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. That’s where the marketing and the, operational sales side can come into play, where for marketing to be able to do its job, it may need to know the address, may need to know the email. May need to have, you know, things like that asked over the, make sure we have the name, the correct spelling of the name, uh, is a important one.
[00:27:02] Kevin Dieny: Those things can take time. Those things can feel like they’re bogging down the call. And if the caller’s like, look, let’s just move forward with this. So setting the pace of it is also kind of something, a lot of what you’ve said is going to come down to a lot of like, experiental learning as you do it.
[00:27:19] Kevin Dieny: I think, it’s one of those things, the art of it is one of those things where, you know, it’s hard to have every objection, every possible statement from every possible caller in a big list that they get, they’re going to be able to, you know, memorize. And then every time that that comes up in a call, they’re going to just snap to the right.
[00:27:36] Kevin Dieny: Perfect answer every time, it’s not right. It’s not correct to assume that that’s how it works. It’s a lot more nuanced. But if there is a standard for the basics, right? That’s why I think it gets away from a script too.
[00:27:49] Kevin Dieny: It’s not exactly verbatim going to be like, I think the closer you get to inbound, the more it’s realize it’s like man, a script would be impossible after the first, 30 seconds of, going back and forth, finding out what they need.
[00:28:01] Kevin Dieny: It gets really complex. So at the end of the day, your team’s going to have all this information from having talked to consumers in a one-to-one unique, interactive way. So there’s going to be a lot of feedback that comes from, from that team. So how much feedback and what kind of feedback has been helpful for you to, improve the process or improve how your team is fielding inbound calls?
[00:28:28] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I guess it’s how, I mean, the main feedback I get is how receptive, cause we’ll, we’ll go through revisions of the questions and things that we need to check off. And how receptive, I guess people are to the certain questions and stuff like that. If there’s one question that, is like a big turnoff for somebody, or they just, don’t not really typically answering, even when you ask it, it’s it could be another way around or different.
[00:28:51] Matt Widmyer: So little tweaks and revisions here and there, but. And also listening in to some of the calls myself and just kind of seeing, okay, right. Is this, is this overkill? Are we overdoing it a little bit? I think while this is being created out, you have to define your need to know.
[00:29:06] Matt Widmyer: And you’re nice to knows. And differentiate between the two. Need to know every single customer, it doesn’t matter who they are, they’re calling it. We’re getting this information for them. The nice to knows is going to make it easier down the line. Not necessarily required. Differentiate between those two. Manage to the need to knows other than the nice to knows.
[00:29:24] Matt Widmyer: And those are kind of like, Hey, high five, you got those five extra things. This is going to be a slam dunk now. Cool. You have to pick and choose cause managing to like, you know, 30 different things is pretty difficult.
[00:29:37] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, there’s two questions at this point, right. That I think a business may still have. And one of them is, well, I’m not getting enough inbound calls. How do I get more? And to that I would take a stab at that and say, well, a little bit of that has to do with marketing.
[00:29:52] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, for sure. Your marketing is out there. Hopefully it’s not necessarily just focused on creating demand. It’s focused on generating some leads, some calls, some callers, some, you know, prospects and patients, whatever it is you’re after, uh, who’s who you want calling.
[00:30:06] Kevin Dieny: Hopefully you have a marketing arm there that is ROI, you know, responsible measuring, tracking. This is generating callers. Now on the other side, and this would be the, where the question comes up. If a business is like, well, I’m getting a lot of calls, but they’re low quality. So what would you say? How can a manager, if that’s the feedback they’re getting right, these callers are just not great.
[00:30:33] Kevin Dieny: So what can a business do to improve that?
[00:30:36] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I mean that, without any other additional explanations, is it just kind of lazy to start with? Right. But what if something, and there are going to be leads that are coming through.
[00:30:47] Matt Widmyer: They’re not good, right? Period. It’s going to happen. But, we need to ask. And my the first thing I asked my team, if I, whenever I hear that, is what’s not good about them? Is it a one-off situation or is this happening all the time? That one day again, I mentioned on one of the earlier podcasts for that one day, everybody was calling in about, buying a trampoline, those a little more urgent, Hey, Kevin fixed this, but my phones are getting tied up.
[00:31:15] Matt Widmyer: Right. This is a good example of like, Hey, you’re bogging down my team. But on the other hand, Kevin you know, the marketer or Kevin, in this case, he doesn’t want to hear about all the bad news. He wants to also hear about all the things that went really well.
[00:31:28] Matt Widmyer: So you can duplicate some of that success. Because at the end of the day, I’m having a conversation with my team and if they aren’t handling these leads correctly, or if the coverage ends up being bad, it’s not, but if it ends up taking a little bit of a hit or a call start going to voicemail more.
[00:31:43] Matt Widmyer: I know, I already know in the grand scheme of things, your marketer, Kevin, in this case, is not going to have a solid enough case to go back and try to increase ad spend and stuff like that. If we want to, inbound leads are great, right. They make our lives a lot easier. And if we want to keep experiencing them, we need to have the operational things, all figured out on our end too.
[00:32:05] Matt Widmyer: So I know that. A lot of people don’t know that, but we’re really close to what’s happening with these things and you’re close to the generation, I’m close to the feeling and managing them. So I want to be able to, to have both of us tell a very good story with these.
[00:32:19] Kevin Dieny: So another thing that that I think would come up is how much a business wants to bring all this in-house. And the reason I say that is it is a lot to manage, you know, all of this, making sure that the operational side, all the technological stuff, all the marketing, everything attached to this is driving calls to the right people, right place.
[00:32:42] Kevin Dieny: And it aligns well with your business, that the team is. Properly answering calls, routing them is handling them appropriately. You have staffing, meaning you have to continually be recruiting, be hiring people. And then people come and go. Maybe you’ve had someone who’s been there a while, but what happens when they leave?
[00:32:59] Kevin Dieny: Does that mean all of your business knowledge goes with them? There’s a lot of threats there. Getting an answering service, getting a call center, bringing, pushing all that knowledge out, but at the same time, there’s lots of benefits.
[00:33:12] Kevin Dieny: There’s coverage benefits. You know, they’re going to have amazing coverage cause that’s something, one of their guarantees possibly. You know, that they’re going to be following a scorecard or something else. And that these people are handling a large volume, meaning there’s a lot of experience. There for you.
[00:33:26] Kevin Dieny: So what would you say? What were you, what are your thoughts on the in-house versus a third party call fielding team?
[00:33:34] Matt Widmyer: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s depends again, age of research people are, by the time they pick up the phone and call, they want some sort of help. And I, I feel like it, depending on the urgency, I know, you know, businesses vary depending on what it is and, and customers vary, depending on what it is they need help with.
[00:33:49] Matt Widmyer: If it’s somebody calling in because their mouth is killing them, maybe they have a cavity or something like that, a little more urgent, than somebody calling in because they maybe they want a, they’re thinking about painting the restroom a different color or whatever, right. So that can probably wait, but in both cases, what people are want more than anything, even if they don’t need help right away, or even if they know help can’t happen right away that people want to be acknowledged.
[00:34:16] Matt Widmyer: So I think an answering service, if you do not have the bandwidth internally to do it. An answering service and maybe an after hours thing or weekends thing. Could be very valuable just to give that initial, Hey, we hear you, right? Like we’re working on it. Bear with us. Your business means a lot to us.
[00:34:34] Matt Widmyer: We’re we’re sorry. You’re going through whatever it is you’re going through. During operating hours we will take care of it. If it’s medical or something like that, they can route it a different way to maybe they have an emergency service or maybe a pipe burst in their house or something like that.
[00:34:48] Matt Widmyer: And they need help right away. Typically those answering services, we’ll be able to refer them to, um, somebody who can help them right away.
[00:34:56] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, that’s all really good. And I, at this point, I’m curious, what else is there that we possibly haven’t said? Is there anything else that we’ve missed or anything else you wanted to add to this before we wrap all this up? Because we’ve really, really gotten in deep into, fielding the call and handling the call, especially, with a focus on the inbound side.
[00:35:17] Kevin Dieny: Was there anything else that we may have missed that you’d like to mention, Matt?
[00:35:21] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I think another very important piece for the business themselves is just to control the conversation. This is something that especially newer employees will have the tendency to get bullied by people over the phone.
[00:35:32] Matt Widmyer: Not necessarily them being mean but them taking complete control of the conversation, not answering some of the basic questions we need. In our instance, we aren’t, if they don’t pass that bare minimum, they’re likely just price shopping and they likely may not be the best customer anyway. So sometimes every once in a while we will have to turn people away.
[00:35:53] Matt Widmyer: If we can’t even verify they work with a real business or whatever, again, we are B2B, B2B here, but, if somebody is calling you up and maybe you’re running a dental office or, um, audiology office or something like that, if they’re not able to, if they just give you your first name and can’t verify anything else about them.
[00:36:13] Matt Widmyer: It might be a little bit of a red flag. Like maybe there’s just like, it can potentially be, maybe they’re just calling down the list and looking for the best price of whatever it is. You’ll get a lot of price shoppers. Doesn’t matter what service you provide. You always get people wanting know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.
[00:36:30] Matt Widmyer: We’ll ballpark if we have to, but we are not diagnosing the full thing. It’s usually some other followup conversation that needs to happen to assess. So I don’t want to, you don’t want to scare them away with a high number and you don’t want to give them a low number if they’re gonna hold you to that low number.
[00:36:44] Matt Widmyer: So I think, that’s kind of where some of the art of controlling the conversation comes in. That’s usually typically how I explain it. Cause again, I, before I managed the team that did this, what’s helpful is I did it for a couple of years, myself too. So I’ve, I know all shapes and sizes of people that call in and, um, they’re, they’re, it’s a mixed bag.
[00:37:02] Matt Widmyer: It really is.
[00:37:05] Kevin Dieny: Yeah. It’s, we’ve talked about this before. It’s hard to stay motivated and positive, especially when you’re getting yelled at. One of the things we had not touched on is like spam calls, abusive callers.
[00:37:15] Kevin Dieny: There’s a lot in that mixed bag that anyone could be pulling out of and have to take. And so. The measurement of it does have to consider all of that, right. That you do have to have a reasonable measurement protocol around, you know, what, what kinds of things is it reasonable to expect someone to do?
[00:37:33] Kevin Dieny: How many calls should they be taking? What should be the outcome of those calls? That’s one of the reasons why we have a scorecard is we tell businesses how their call handlers are responding. How well they’re doing, but we’re, we’re, we’re taking the callers who we’ve listened to our bookable, we’ve listened to our true prospects, true leads.
[00:37:56] Kevin Dieny: They are, they do seem like they’re a fit for the business. So out of that group, how well are they handling? Just how are they handling all callers? Someone could easily just by random chance to get a lot of, unfortunate callers. So it’s so important to have a standard call strategy. It’s really important to know how your business is going to handle every inbound conversion type.
[00:38:17] Kevin Dieny: Every interaction with the consumer has to be accounted for. Maybe before you do anything in marketing, how are the leads going to be handled when we generate them? If that’s an afterthought, that’s a big, it’s a big problem. And then at the end, ultimately, Making sure that assessments are being done. How are things going pre-call?
[00:38:33] Kevin Dieny: How are things going during the call? How is the post-call follow-up feedback engine, how has our improvement of all of this going on so that the business is continually improving what it has. The original strategy is probably not great because things change in, in, like you said, they evolve over time.
[00:38:50] Kevin Dieny: Sometimes you’re going to need to adjust scorecards here, there, or improve this whole entire system. So I think all of that are some great lessons learned from this, from this episode. Is there, was there anything else Matt?
[00:39:01] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, I was actually just going to say, just to add in one last thing, I was going to say, if you are going to use an IVR, my team manages the sales side of the IVR.
[00:39:12] Matt Widmyer: So press one for new customers. If you’re an existing customer and you need help and we, anybody who’s had at cable access television knows this. If you’re having a problem with your service, the quickest way to get help is you press the sales extension.
[00:39:26] Matt Widmyer: If you’re going to route things to sales and support, have a conversation with whoever’s handling the support queue and make sure that’s all buttoned up too. Because otherwise you’re going to be getting the overflow regardless.
[00:39:38] Matt Widmyer: And, uh, you’re still going to be getting those interruptions that you didn’t want any of you specifically designed an IVR to avoid. And same thing, you know, and not want to sound like we’re perfect because sometimes if we do miss one and somebody really needs help with something, if it’s, it’s usually just that one, right.
[00:39:55] Matt Widmyer: That they call back 10 times in a row or whatever, where maybe we’re all in a meeting or something like that. They do call a support line, if they, if they are looking to do business too. So we get those every once in a while. We receive the support calls every once in a while. So make sure you have conversations, you can kind of tell if it’s a one-off thing.
[00:40:12] Matt Widmyer: Cool, we’ll take care of it. We’re on it. If it’s a, like a constant thing, and sometimes it’ll get to that point because things will happen or people will get tied, tied down and projects and stuff like that. If it does become something that you see that you can anticipate it, starting to get a little out of hand, have a conversation with whoever’s running that other queue.
[00:40:31] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, this is all really great. As a listener, if you’re thinking, well, maybe this is stuff I’d like to have, you can give Matt’s team a call. You can call us on our sales line. If you want to connect with, Matt, what are some ways that people can reach out to you and talk to you?
[00:40:45] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, so you can reach out to me in LinkedIn directly. Name again is Matt. M A T T and my last name Widmyer, W I D M Y E R. And you can find me on LinkedIn. I think I have a black and white photo currently, so you’ll know it’s me.
[00:41:01] Kevin Dieny: Yeah, this is great. I hope that this has given you guys some ideas, something to think about for how you can improve fielding inbound calls. Maybe you’re interested in doing that at all and tracking it and getting out your own scorecard. Hopefully that helps you and get your business growing.
[00:41:15] Kevin Dieny: So we appreciate you listening and thank you. Thanks Matt for coming on.
[00:41:19] Matt Widmyer: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me again. Appreciate it, I had a good time.