August 17, 2011
Customer Interaction Center Team Lead, Kelly Bakeman, shares 5 important tips for effectively using Live Chat. Watch the video here, or for more Outsell videos, check out the Outsell YouTube Channel.
December 13, 2010
Promoting Team Work & Positive Company Culture
Building and maintaining a strong company culture is important at Outsell, not only to management, but to every associate at our company.
Andres Perez, one of our agents from the Outsell Live Chat Center, wanted to form an Outsell soccer team to promote work relationships and add an outlet for competition and fun after work hours. He went to great lengths in order to recruit members and make the activity happen, which not only resulted in a successful team, but team uniforms to show our company pride.
The Outsell Soccer Team consists of 9 members currently: Andres Perez, Michael Tomiak, David Giberson, Sakib Akbar, Kailash Ramanathan, Dinesh Murali, CJ Ramos, John Uphoff, and newest recruit Tim Gilmore.
Games are played Sunday Nights at the Vadnais Heights Sports Dome as part of the adult men’s soccer league. The team’s first game was November 21st, playing nearly every week until Playoff Week January 16th.
Outsell is one of fifteen teams. So far our team has participated in three games, wining one, losing one, and tying the most recent, with a postponement of this past weekend’s game due to snowfall.
Be sure and check out more about this local sports center and leagues and other services they provide at their website.
December 6, 2010
Go Further This Holiday Season
It is no secret that car sales have been steadily improving, most notably in the past few months. As we near the peak time for end of the year sales, many consumers are already anticipating the largest surge in specials thus far since dealerships will be looking to purge remaining previous year models, like 2009 and 2010, at prices buyers hope will be drastically lower than a new 2011.
“We have high expectations for December sales as year-end clearance events should drive the industry to its best unit sales total of the year,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of Industry Insight for TrueCar.com.
In the Outsell Live Chat Center, while Black Friday saw a surge of consumers, the week between Christmas and New Years is often the busiest time of the year. But there are still some hurdles ahead, according to the previous article.
“Even with a strong close to 2010, there remains a moderate level of risk with automotive sales in 2011. Thus, J.D. Power’s forecast for next year has been adjusted downward to 10.4 million units for retail sales and 12.8 million units for total sales.”
The other change in consumer habits is the tendency toward buying American, possibly due to the large amount of vehicle recalls in the past year that, while spanning most major car companies, began with Toyota’s high-profile accelerator recalls.
In this difficult economic time, consumers are also being much savvier as shoppers, researching online more vigorously than previous years.
November 8, 2010
Consumers Are Often Unhappy with Online Assistance
In Outsell’s continuing dedication to improving our current digital marketing services, Dealer Services Manager, Alex Brown, discovered an insightful article from earlier this spring by Diane Clarkson of Forrester Research, Inc about the expansion of online customer service in retail.
Email has been at the forefront for years as an offered online option for customer service, and many retailers that sell their products online have an advantage with online customer service as further methods are being implemented. The difficult aspect for most companies is in aligning their strategies for online marketing and customer service effectively.
Live help is growing rapidly as an online option, particularly reactive chat, the method in which a customer can choose to click on a chat icon and engage an online professional, versus the proactive method that automatically opens a chat window without prompting.
Mobile customer service such as text alerts is rapidly growing as well, despite being one of the currently least offered online services. In the Chat Center at Outsell there have even been a number of growing customers using their cell phones to chat rather than a computer.
Despite attention being placed on additional online customer service methods, Forrester Research, Inc found that most of the companies they polled are not listening to what their customers want.
“Only 49% of survey respondents agree that their brand drives their online and offline customer services strategy. This lack of alignment can be jarring for customers when their service experience is inconsistent with the expectations a brand has promised.”
In other words, most consumers are not as happy with the customer service they receive as retailers promise they will be. More effective online methods may help salvage this disconnect, but only if implemented well, and if companies take into account feedback on how their customer service methods are working.
Forrester Research, Inc summed up their findings in five main points for how retailers can improve:
1. integrate brand alignment into customer service strategy
2. align customer service metrics to brand
3. listen to social channels
4. solicit customer feedback across your customer service channels
5. establish customer service cross-channel and cross-functional collaboration
Online customer service in the form of online chat and potential social media methods are becoming the standard, but to utilize this effectively and provide the best possible customer service to customers, retailers need to have clear goals, clear understanding of how their brand fits into the methods they are exploring, and clear understanding of what their customers want.
If done well, new online customer service options for expanding sales and customer loyalty may be the most beneficial evolution for retailers in reaching and assisting their customers since email, but only if done correctly.
Outsell has recently implemented a survey offered to customers at the end of their chat experience to query how much of consumers’ automotive shopping they want to complete online, and how successful the chat process was for them. Outsell plans to share the findings from this survey later this year.
To download the full article by Forrester Research, Inc please click here.
October 25, 2010
Consumer Trends in the Chat Center
As a leading automotive digital marketing services firm, the hub of activity at Outsell is in the Chat Center dealing directly with our dealerships’ customers.
Some of the trends over the past year have been typical, such as customers looking to confirm availability on certain models, especially new models, and to get the best deal on pricing. The third most common question coming into chat is whether or not the dealership will assist a customer with poor or no credit, and if so, what types of programs are offered.
“Even if customers are doubtful they will receive help due to a poor financial situation, those chatters are the most likely to offer their information as potential leads in hopes of whatever assistance might be given,” said Customer Interaction Specialist, Sarah Tyler. Many people new to the Chat Center find this trend odd, but it is becoming a more and more common occurrence.
Economic times may still be difficult for many consumers, but financial lenders are finding other ways to assist with bad credit car loans. A recent article by Free Press Release Distribution said:
“With bad credit car loans, the financial lenders would not [always] evaluate the credit status of borrowers. However, the lenders might demand a collateral for the money offered as loan. This is a good way to secure the loan as the newly bought car itself can act as collateral.”
Customers consistently enter chat in the hopes that something similar can be worked out for them, and that they can avoid the usual large down payment or substantial APR associated with a bad credit car loan.
General Motors’ recent acquisition of the Texas-based subprime lender AmeriCredit on September 30th, now known as GM Financial as of October 1st, may make it even easier for some financially strapped car buyers to qualify for the loans they need.
GM’s chief financial officer, Chris Liddell, explained that:
“With AmeriCredit providing us niche capabilities in leasing and non-prime financing, along with the continued strong support of Ally Financial and others for prime retail and dealer financing, we’ve set up a very competitive solution for our financing needs…”
The automotive market may not be as closed to customers with poor credit as once believed, and Outsell anticipates that customers seeking bad credit car loan assistance will continue to be a large presence in our daily chats.