Improve your Call Center Performance (and Sales!) with These 3 Ideas

By Sue Brady

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou manage your marketing budget well to drive as many calls as you can to your call centers. You rely on your centers to answer those calls and close the sales. If you manage an inbound call center, you know about the inherent challenges. It’s not easy work, but there are some things you can do to make your call centers more productive: Training, call routing and competition will help you achieve sustained improvement to your call center performance.

1. Training.
You probably trained all of your call center agents when your latest program started up. But when is the last time you re-trained them? Call center attrition is high in most call centers, and while it’s likely you have trained the trainers, it’s important for you, as ‘the client,’ to get in there and retrain from time to time. Don’t rely on the call center to do it all for you. New agents on your program will benefit from your first-hand knowledge. And existing agents will also benefit. I’ve yet to see an example of a client physically re-training agents that didn’t result in a bump in performance. It’s motivational to have you there, but it also ensures the training is still relevant and that you are aware of new questions that agents might be asking. The longer a program runs in a center, the more information you learn from them to help you improve.

2. Call Routing.
There are a number of technologies that provide intelligent call routing, and a number of ways you can set it up. One way is to rate your agents based on your key performance indicators and route calls to those agents whenever possible. Some companies monitor this daily, and when they see an agent is having a particularly good day, that agent will receive more calls. Another way to route calls is to identify your better performing area codes or zip codes and when those calls come in, make sure they are answered first (and preferably by your best agents). Or, you can identify your better performing media and give those calls preference.

3. Competition.Runner
Competition is healthy and keeps the players focused to do their best. Competition between agents is important, but so is competition between centers. For agents, having a ‘leader board’ is motivational as is the old-fashioned bell ringing when someone makes a sale. Awards, monetary bonuses and public recognition can all motivate your agents.

If you have the volume to support it, there are multiple benefits to having more than one center answering your calls. First of all, if there is an issue at one call center, such as weather, God forbid a bomb scare, or even a technology failure, you have another center to allow at least some of your calls to be handled. Secondly, there is great and healthy competition created when you run call centers against each other. Each call center has to be able to see performance numbers for the others, and without a doubt, call center A will want to outperform call center B and visa versa.

What are some of your ideas?

What is the ‘Not Provided’ Organic Keywords Problem (and what can You do about it)?

By Sue Brady


It’s been six months since Google made the change that shook up the SEO market. If you are still perplexed about what to do about it, read on.

Keyword analysis is extremely important for optimizing both paid for and organic keyword traffic. Many pay per click buyers use Google Analytics (GA) to analyze their results. GA is fairly robust and can satisfy the needs of most buyers. But what about your organic keywords? It’s equally important to know which ones are driving the most traffic to your site.

Not Provided. This term refers to keywords where Google is no longer sharing information on their origin. This is not new news. Back in 2011, Google made a change that keywords from anyone searching from a secure site (denoted by an ‘s’ after the http in your URL bar) would show up in reporting as Not Provided. Then in October of 2013, they made the change universal for all Google organic search, hiding the keyword information that used to be so useful. Information on organic keywords is still available in Bing/Yahoo search. But, because Google search has 67% of the search market, you are now missing a large amount of information.

When Google first started down this path, Matt Cutts, the Head of the Spam Team at Google, guessed that Non Provided visits would remain in the single-digit percents. He was wrong. According to a BrightEdge survey from Q1, 2013, 56% of search traffic in the tech industry was already coming from Google secure search, and therefore showing up as Non Provided in GA. And now it’s a 100%, since all Google searches are secure.

There have been a number of very useful articles written about getting around this pesky problem:

1. Kissmetrics describes 8 methods for gaining insight into your customer search data in these two articles: Unlock keywords and keyword not provided.

2. Search Engine Watch also has some useful advice, especially for the small business and in general.

3. Webbiquity compiled advice from 6 experts on dealing with the Non Provided issue.

Please share other ways you get around this issue. I’ll compile and publish them here at a later date.

UPDATE: I came across this article just as I was getting ready to publish this post. Perhaps Google is reconsidering?

So You’re Jumping into Social Media – 7 Tips to Get You Started

Originally posted on Digital Marketing Musings:

By Sue Brady


You’ve decided to engage your audience online. Congratulations!! You’ve made the decision to jump in, you’ve gotten management buy-in, and now you have to make sure you’ve got a plan.

  1. The very first thing you should do is to write down your goals. What do you hope to accomplish with social media: are you looking for awareness, loyalty, sales? Whatever you decide, this will drive your presence online.
  2. Next you need to figure out where your audience is (as in, where do they hang out online).  Use that to decide in which channels you will maintain your presence. There are of course many sites to consider and all have unique advantages.
  3. Make sure you know what success will look like for you. Are you after Facebook likes, or are you looking to spread awareness of articles that you or your company authors? Whatever it is, understand what…

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How to Handle an Internet Troll

Originally posted on Digital Marketing Musings:

By Sue Brady

One of my clients recently had an issue where a troll had hijacked their Facebook page.  Every time my client would post a picture or make a statement about their product, the troll would post, often multiple times, comments and pictures denigrating the product. He also started answering posts from other potential customers who were asking for product feedback. Those were actually his favorites posts to respond to because he could further his own agenda directly with a real person.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon scenario.  It is in fact a reason I hear all the time from clients regarding their hesitation to ‘jump into’ social media.  “What if someone posts really bad things about the company and the president/board member/my boss sees it?”  The truth is, if you jump into social media, you also have to have a plan for managing trolls. There are few…

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Do You Know Where Your Teenager Is (online)?

By Sue Brady

cartoon social tools - must say


So much has been written about the ‘demise’ of Facebook and how it’s losing traction with the younger set. Facebook’s audience is changing but that doesn’t mean it’s about to crash and burn. I often hear: The kids just aren’t using Facebook anymore. But is it really true? I did some digging and read a number of articles to really understand what’s been happening to the Facebook numbers. I discovered that yes, teens are leaving Facebook, but Facebook is far from dying. Teens are just turning to other tools.

Piper Jaffray released their semi-annual survey in October, 2013 where they saw a shift from the prior survey done in April, in preferred social media among teens. In the April survey, Facebook was preferred over Twitter with 33% siting the first, and 30% the second. The October study showed a large shift with 26% preferring Twitter, followed by Facebook and new to the top of the list, Instagram, each at 23%. You can read the full article here.

In the US, compared to three year’s ago, overall Facebook users have increased by 23%. The 55 and older crowd has been the biggest reason for this increase. In the last three years, that age group has grown from almost 16 million to 28 million users. And in the same period of time, teen users aged 13 – 17 have declined by 25% while young adults aged 18 – 24 have declined 8%. But somehow that doesn’t feel like the full story. Is it really just the younger crowd moving into older age groups, and not being replaced by the new young teens? It sure seems that way. The largest group on Facebook by pure numbers three years ago was the 18-24 crowd followed by the 35-54 year olds. Now, the largest group on Facebook is the 35-54 year olds, followed by 25 – 34 year olds (source: iStrategy Labs). Facebook’s audience is aging because teens, new to social media, are making other choices.

There are implications for advertisers. Advertisers can still reach a potential teen audience of almost 10 million kids, but that’s 3 million less than they used to be able to reach, and that number is not likely to improve in the coming years.

So where are the teens going for their social media fix? At the end of last year, it was announced that Twitter actually overtook Facebook as the most important social media tool among teens. And there are other, newer social media players too in this rapidly changing landscape.

girl on fone

Twitter. With 243 million monthly users, Twitter is gigantic. According to AllThingsD, 28% of Twitter’s unique desktop viewers are between 13 and 24 years old. When you look at mobile users, 25% of Twitter users vs 19% of Facebook’s are between 18 and 24 years old.  And, Twitter’s global audience aged between 15 and 24  is over 3 percentage points higher than Facebook’s  (32% to 29%).

Snapchat. Snapchat is the mobile app that allows you to send pictures that are viewable for 1-10 seconds and 15-second video clips can also be sent for a one-time viewing.  Snapchat boasts 30 million monthly users in the US and a full 55% of them use it everyday (source: Business Insider). There are 400 million snaps sent per day, worldwide. (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). Its growth has been explosive. Snapchat’s primary demographic is the 13-25 age group, though the 40+ crowd is starting to adopt it as well (source: According to Pew Research, 26% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Snapchat. Snapchap is only just starting to allow advertising and it’s not yet known how successful that will be.

Instagram.    Owned by Facebook, Instagram is also a photo and video share app, but the photos and videos don’t disappear.  They boast 150 million monthly users (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). 43% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Instagram. 18% of those aged 30-49 use Instagram (Pew Research). Snapchat only has 5% of that age group. Like Snapchat, Instagram has been slow to get into advertising, but is definitely planning on monetizing the platform with ads.

WhatsApp. WhatsApp, the mobile messaging tool, has been picking up new users at the rate of a million A DAY. They boast 450 million users to Facebook’s 1.2 billion (worldwide). Their growth has been fairly amazing.  And guess what? Facebook recently announced that it’s buying WhatsApp for a deal valued at $19 billion. Not much is known about the demographics of the WhatsApp users, though in general mobile messaging services have high usage among teens and tweens.  The WhatsApp user base is strong in India, Europe and Latin America.

Facebook is alive and well and making acquisitions to make sure it stays relevant with a variety of age groups. But there’s no question the Facebook audience base is shifting. Perhaps the teen-set isn’t happy that mom and dad are following their pages, or perhaps that age group has just gotten tired of the platform and favors faster communication tools. Whatever the reason, Facebook remains a social media giant.

social media montage