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As Director of Marketing and Business Development at Underground Elephant my role is to develop high-level relationships in the lead generation and performance advertising verticals. My focus is in the Education and Financial spaces. I am an avid animal lover and member of the humane society. Whenever I have free time I spend it playing with my puppy, watching sports and reading up on trends in the industry.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

QC article

Great article on how QCing a lead prior to delivering the lead to the client actually lowers conversions.

To QC or Not to QC, That Is The Question
Millions of home owners feeling the economic crunch are turning to the internet for financial salvation. The current landscape of mortgage lending and financing markets has caused lead generators to re-evaluate their company’s policy on lead quality measures. One of the most common practices is to establish an on or off-site call center to check the quality (we’ll use the abbreviation QC for Quality Control) of delivered leads. With an ever-increasing level of competition in the financial leads market, creating a strong customer base is dependent on the positive experience they have in dealing with your business. In fact, it can cost nearly ten times as much to draw new customers, for your leads, in as it does to keep the existing ones satisfied. The reason that the most valued customers keep returning for business is because they have had their needs met each and every time. Even if your track record with a customer has been stellar for years, one off-putting interaction can cause them to seek services elsewhere. Customer loyalty is directly linked to the company’s consistent performance, making quality control a major priority. However, the traditional methods can backfire.

One option that hasn’t crossed the minds of many in this industry is to eliminate the call center entirely. Now before you start lighting the torches and assembling the mob, take this thought into serious consideration. There are major issues with call centers both on and off-site that can cause serious damage to your company’s reputation and ultimately your bottom line. Let’s say you wanted to keep your call center internal to your company. Unless you are one of the few industry leading corporations, you simply do not have the resources to accommodate the performance and quality needs of the customer base. Combining the necessary man-power, knowledge, and skilled calling agents can end up costing more money than you would be saving in keeping customers happy.

This dilemma has created a large market for third-party call center providers. Outsourcing to these companies should be looked over with careful precision. While there are options available to monitor the calling centers call log, you usually are unable to monitor the agents’ actions during the calls. It’s difficult to trust your lead in the hands of someone checking Facebook photos or playing Tetris while they interact with a customer. This can often be the best case scenario, as most call centers are outsourced overseas taking your input completely out of the picture. Wanting to be able to track your leads, the quality of the agent’s performance and the customer’s satisfaction level can be a tall order for most third-party calling centers. Even checking up on how the off-site calling center is meeting your requirements, could be misleading data, as most dissatisfied customers will not complain when asked about the quality of the interaction. However, they won’t miss the opportunity to complain about the experience to close friends and other businesses, leaving you in the dark about your lower revenue numbers and high QC costs. One satisfied customer is a ringing endorsement, and an unsatisfied customer is just the opposite at an exponentially greater level.

So is the decision simply whether to maintain a call center in house or outsource, or is there another option: Elimination? Realistically, the point of QC is to achieve greater revenue. The shocking part about eliminating the calling center entirely is you do away with the high cost of an on or off-site operation, and increase your customer satisfaction and revenue gains. The goal driving all of these QC efforts is to decrease fraud in delivered leads, increase contact ratio, and ultimately close more deals. In theory by QC’ing the leads, you are trying to eliminate fraud, and therefore greatly increase the contact ratio for your clientele. Lead generation companies, however, have been decimated by calling the leads before they are sent to clients. The method used to combat fraud has actually backfired tremendously. In fact, using QC to verify leads decreases your contact ratio by 10 percent and causes a litany of other issues.

This practice delays the sales process, putting more barriers in the way of success. Not only are the leads being called by someone with little or no knowledge of what the business’ service or product is, but they are not being contacted in real time. Only after this unsavory first impression is made are the leads passed on to the buyer. Beyond just customer satisfaction, contacting prospective clients in real time is the deciding factor for increasing ROI on lead purchasing.

In a recent study to determine the impact of speed on lead conversion rates it was found that calling a lead within the first two minutes of generation was the single largest driver lead conversion. The sample size of the study was to the tune of several million Internet-generated leads. It revealed that sales leads called under 60 seconds showed an astounding 391 percent improvement over average conversion rates. The study also found that leads called between 60 and 120 seconds after they were generated converted 160 percent more often than the average. If leads cannot be reached within the first few minutes, it is still worthwhile to attempt to contact the lead as quickly as possible. This is because leads called within 24 hours are still 17 percent more likely to convert than those that were not. Overall, it was determined that 88 percent of leads that eventually convert were called within the first 24 hours. While the consumer may indeed continue to search for other providers of a service, there seems to be a sense of loyalty that brings them back to the vendor that they heard from first. Price is not the end-all be-all factor in selecting a partner. There is value in educating consumers which results in a strong social and psychological bond that will override competing offers.

None of these remarkable results can be achieved when the leads go through the traditional QC process. Customer interest has an expiration date on it, and it starts decaying as soon as the user hits “submit”. With such a limited timeframe the costs of verifying leads may far outweigh the benefits to your client. For more on Lead Generation best practices check out 100leads.org.

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