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Outsourcing your Customer Service Part Two: What Are You Waiting For?

Let’s say you’ve done your research and identified a handful of businesses which could effectively handle your customer service. This research likely also came paired with articles online which spell out what to look for when outsourcing and what your expectations could be. As a result of this research, you may have also held internal discussions with your employees to gather opinions and concerns that resonate with your business. You may have already accepted that outsourcing your customer service is the most logical next-step for your business, yet you still feel reluctant to move ahead.

We want you to know that this is normal, and that Datapak’s own Monica Clark has something to say about it. If you recall from our previous post, Monica Clark is Datapak’s Customer Service Manager. Her experiences, which span more than 30 years, include working with AT&T, Time Warner and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Clark is also HIPPA certified. HIPAA certification, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, means that Clark is able to teach to industry standards regarding the handling of highly protected personal information.

Again, we posed a question to Clark-

You’ve had many years experience working in both in-house and outsourced customer service roles. What, if any, are the initial fears or hesitations that businesses have with outsourcing their customer service? What do you say to try and ease any of these worries?

I think the biggest fears that many businesses have are as follows:

  1. The customer service will simply not be handled properly
  2. The accountable staff will not be properly trained
  3. And perhaps the biggest fear- the customer will realize that they are not speaking with the actual company.

And although this is a specific example, another issue arises when the customer service is handled overseas. If this is the case, then a business owner may rightfully fear that their customer may dislike having to deal with a language barrier.

What I say to business owner is this- You must be willing to rely on the strength, knowledge and professionalism of the company who will handle your outsourcing. Listen closely to the diction of those you speak with. Although it may seem obvious to read this now, if they are not well spoken, their staff probably won’t be either.

It is advised to ask any potential outsourcer about not only their specific training procedures, but also how their agents will be trained to best represent your business. You should expect to hear that you or a representative from your business will play a role in building any specific training modules.

The above can not only ease the second fear listed, but also the third. The right outsourcer will stop at nothing short of having their agents give the impression of sitting at your company headquarters. Again, this is achieved through proper training on their behalf and with direct input from your business.

In short, perception becomes not only the business’s reality, but more importantly the customer’s.

We’d like to think that Clark’s last sentence above can be usefully applied to not only this topic, but to many elements of your business.

Want to know learn more about Datapak’s customer service capabilities? All you need to do is Contact Us

Building Your Email List & Email Marketing Best Practices

This much we know: email marketing serves as an essential next-step for any business looking to grow into a brand with a consistent and dependable image.

This much is fact: gaining subscribers for your email list isn’t something that just magically happens.

So, how does a business go from having subscribers which consists mostly of internal employees and family members to having a robust and organically built mailing list? You may be surprised to learn that building a robust list involves fairly straightforward tactics that any business can utilize.

Make Your Audience Want to Sign Up

Next time you visit a website, whether it is ecommerce, news based or a static business page, take note if there is an email subscription opt-in field, and where on the site it is located. Also take note if you feel at all compelled to share your email. We’re willing to bet that unless you already have a connection with a business or brand, you won’t feel compelled to share your email. It’s important to realize that the majority of visitors to your site will likely feel the same. Therefore, the question now becomes, how do you make a visitor want to share their email address?

Ecommerce Site:

One tactic commonly used by ecommerce sites is to offer potential subscribers an incentive- most often a discount on future orders. So how can your website effectively communicate something along the lines of, “Subscribe to our mailing list and get 10% off your next order”? Easy, just say it with a banner or homepage slider.

Email marketing services such as MailChimp will allow you to create a signup form, that while identical to any other used on your site, will auto-reply to a subscriber with a custom message. This custom message can be an email which welcomes a new subscriber and presents them with their promised promo code. You can link any banner or slider to this specific signup field.

You may be concerned with customers using an introductory promo code more than once. We cannot speak on the behalf of all ecommerce platforms, but platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce can allow you to limit a customer’s use of a promo code to just one. This is done by identifying their checkout information or IP address.

Additionally, for any visitor who eventually becomes a customer, you can offer an option to subscribe to your mailing list during the checkout process.

Static and Standard Business Site:

If you’re looking to build a mailing list for information based or static website, then you’re faced with a slightly greater challenge. We recommend a tactic similar to that above- that being the use of a banner or homepage slider which calls for action. However, because you’re not in the business of selling a product online, then an incentive such as a promo code has no use. Instead, you must be willing to develop a freebie or a takeaway.

If your site happens to run a blog, then curating that content into an eBook as a digital download can serve as an appealing incentive. Likewise, if you have a collection of whitepapers or case studies which you are willing to share, curating an eBook can not only serve as an incentive, but also help your business become an authority.

Frequency:

The frequency in which you send your marketing emails will have an effect on engagement as well your overall brand image. No business wants to appear to come off as pestering, and likewise, neither do they want their subscribers to forget about them. According to data collected from Campaign Monitor (read more here), the optimal frequency rate at which to send emails is either on a weekly or monthly basis. We agree and would suggest that ecommerce based business follow a weekly (or bi-weekly) sending schedule, while news based or static business follow a monthly schedule.

Above all, we would like to point out that frequency falls second to consistency. It is crucial for your email marketing efforts to follow a strict schedule. If you decide to send emails at 11AM on Tuesdays, then always send at 11AM on Tuesdays.

 

We truly feel that email marketing is essential for any business. Want to know what other marketing tactics we feel are essential? All you need to do is contact us. Let’s Talk.

What to Expect when Outsourcing Fulfillment

This is your problem: days and nights spend packing and shipping order out of a garage or small warehouse- all on your business’s own time. The solution? Outsourcing fulfillment. However, if arriving at this solution were effortless, they you probably wouldn’t be reading this. Deciding on whether or not to outsource fulfillment requires deliberation and will ultimately impact many aspects of your operations. We feel that almost all businesses could benefit from doing so. Follow along below to learn about just a few benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment.

Potentially Better Shipping Rates

The function of your business’s in-house fulfillment operation was to… ship product, right? While it may seem too obvious, the function of any future, outsourced partner is the exact same. The difference between you and them: scale. Not only would your fulfillment partner like to ship as many of your products out the door as they can, but as many products in their facility as possible—all at the cheapest shipping rate achievable. While these shipping costs will ultimately be covered by you or your customers, any worthwhile fulfillment partner will constantly be working to get their clients the most efficient rates manageable. This is why fulfillment houses generally have partnerships with multiple shipping companies. For example, carrier X may be able to move high volumes to consumers for a great rate, but carrier Y offers better deals for large, bulk orders meant for retail. Most fulfillment houses will have at least one employee whose job is to identify and assign the right carrier to the right client and their products. These efforts will ideally lead to cheaper rates, thus, saving you money. These savings can eventually get passed along to your customers, which in turn, save them money and possibly give your product a more competitive advantage in the market.

While international shipping may be a topic deserving of its own post, the right fulfillment partner will guide you if and when you make the decision to ship international.

Order Management

In addition to just fulfillment, the right fulfillment house will also offer order management (solutions) for your business. For anyone unaware, the right order management services can offer robust insight into your business’s performance, including:

  • Inventory levels
  • Buying patterns
  • Returns
  • Customer retention
  • Comparative performance

These are just a sampling of the possible insights from the right order management system.  This can allow your business to make strategic improvements to several areas of your operations and ultimately impact future decisions.

Check out Datapak’s order management solutions

Customized Solutions and Technology

The right fulfillment house will have been in business long enough to offer customized solutions for your business and its products. These can be physical solutions for warehousing, including lighting, temperature and climate control if applicable. These solutions can also come digitally with customized programs to dictate potential continuity services, auto-ship or recurring payments.

And perhaps the biggest advantage of outsourcing your fulfillment is that when your partner updates their technology, then so do you.

Fulfillment House Location – A Case for Michigan

Who knows your business best? You do. That’s why you’re in the know with every step your enterprise makes. If it involves design, development, budgeting, consumer outreach or anything in between, it begins and ends with you. If your business happens to run an ecommerce operation, it’s not a matter of if in-house fulfillment becomes a full-time job, but when. Whether your business has arrived at that point or not, finding a partner to manage fulfillment is crucial.

There are many qualities which can make one fulfillment center more appealing than another: FDA certifications, a climate controlled environment or even something as simple as sheer size. These specific features can add to the total package of a fulfillment operation, but there is still one factor that a business looking to cover a nation-wide market needs to address—location.

The map below illustrates population density across America within the current decade. It shouldn’t take long to notice that there is a remarkable drop in population about halfway between coasts.

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau)

With logistics in mind, it also shouldn’t take long to conclude that an ideal fulfillment center should be based halfway between this population divide and the east coast. However, the issue of latitude now comes in to play.

For an ideal fulfillment center location, does it make sense to try and split this map in half again, this time from north to south? As we will soon argue no. Reference again the map below.

The point is to now illustrate that on a linear scale, fulfillment houses located within the northern half of this map closely intersect more densely populated regions. Even though shipping doesn’t work on an exactly linear scale, being within such close proximity gives a definite advantage to fulfillment centers located at or near the top line. This leads us to argue that perhaps the ideal location to quickly and easily reach some of the largest consumer markets, those being Chicago, Metro Detroit, Central Ohio, New York and the lower New England states, is in fact, Michigan.

Centralized fulfillment location = closer proximity to customers

Closer proximity to consumers = faster shipping and better rates. It’s that simple.

You may be asking if our argument is biased. Well, maybe. However, we consistently hear from our clients that the location of our operation directly impacts how quickly their customers receive a product.  Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that Michigan is centrally located to many of the largest consumer markets in North America.

To roundup this post, all we ask is for you to see how our line of fulfillment services can best benefit your business, regardless of where your markets may lie.