Using LinkedIn For Business Development

LinkedIn is a useful career tool and mingling with the right crowd has never been easier, but over the last few years it evolved past its networking purpose and has become a vital business development tool.

Bellow, you’ll find 10 LinkedIn business development best practices:

 

Optimise Your Profile

Make sure that your profile is fully complete, that’s the first step. The second step is a bit harder as you need to revise your profile and use as many keyword-rich descriptions as possible.

These steps will improve your visibility when someone is searching LinkedIn for people with your expertise.

Just don’t ‘go full keyword’ OK?

 

Get Your Custom URL

I don’t know about you, but personally, I love customization, and custom URLs are no exception. Go ahead and claim your custom URL, just make sure it includes your name (e.g. https://linkedin.com/in/yourname).

This rather simple step is especially valuable for people who have a lot of contact with potential clients (even more valuable for those of us in the B2B sector) mainly because we have become so accustomed to ‘googling’ – we just search for people we haven’t met yet in order to learn more about them and at times, to gain the upper hand.

 

Network.

Constantly keep on building and maintain your LinkedIn network. Whenever you meet someone, follow up with a LinkedIn request. Being connected to a wide plethora of professionals improves your chances of finding that one person who’s connected to someone with whom you’d like to be introduced.

Simply keep on networking, and when in doubt network some more.

 

Advanced Search

Thanks to LinkedIn the endless search for prospective clients and decision makers has never been easier. The ability to find the appropriate person to contact for your business is at your fingertips, and it’s called ‘Advanced Search’. Use a combination of industry keywords, job titles and company or brand names and you’re all set.

When you do find your ‘point of contact’ look at their profile, perhaps they’re connected to anyone in your networking circle who you might ask for an introduction.

If not, don’t worry there are other, more natural relationship building methods. See what LinkedIn groups they participate in, or maybe they have a Twitter account or a blog you could follow and build a relationship based on common interests.

 

Get Your Company ‘Out There’

Highlight your company by building a company page. Use keyword-rich descriptions for your offers and/or services and bring your company to life by using high-quality images and videos.

 

Form Opinions and Share Knowledge

Status updates are a great way to share valuable information to prospective clients, your employees and anyone who’s following your company page.

Your ‘personal brand’ helps in building trust in you and by extension in your company, use it to your advantage and showcase your strong points. Use status updates on your personal profile to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge.

 

Publish Content

It’s ‘Publish or Perish’ on LinkedIn. Write articles that demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise and use the publishing feature to get your content ‘out there’.

Including a crafty ‘Call to Action’ is a surefire way to encourage further engagement, in the form of commenting on your article or contacting you for help.

 

Study LinkedIn’s Pulse

The most popular articles get featured on LinkedIn’s Pulse. In order to find out what content is popular (and gets promoted as a result), you need study ‘Pulse’.

Look for common denominators, latest trends and types of content – don’t forget to ‘keep an eye out’ for emerging trends.

 

Community Building

Don’t be a ‘square’ and participate in industry groups. Finding groups appropriate to your industry is not an easy task as there’s a lot of ‘noise’ to filter, however, you’ll be able to find active, quality groups with a thriving community – it just takes time.

What’s next? Be a part of the community, start participating by answering questions, joining conversations and sharing interesting third-party articles.

Keep on doing these activities and you’ll become a trusted community member. Having established your credibility and visibility within the group, you’ll be able to share your own content with ease.

 

Tell, Don’t Sell

Remember, you’re among professionals, there are no ‘sheep’ on LinkedIn, only ‘wolves’, this is why it’s crucial to focus on building trust and not on selling. A sales pitch will just turn everyone away, and you won’t get a second chance.

Build trust by engaging your audience on multiple levels. Think about what’s important to them, what problems they have, what challenges they face and pinpoint their aspirations and goals.

You need to become their ‘go-to’ source for problem-solving, someone they want to become, one that always has helpful information and insight, and when they use the information you provided to fix their issues or solve a problem they will think of you.

Become your audiences guru, that’s all there is to it.

 

I would love to hear back from you and learn how do you use LinkedIn for business development?

The Real Value of First Contact Resolution

The more satisfied customers are, the more loyal they’ll become – embrace customer centricity.

It’s not a mystery that first contact resolution is one of the main drivers for customer satisfaction.

Even the smallest improvements to first contact resolution (FCR) have an impact on increasing customer satisfaction, at an astonishing rate of 1:1, which quite frankly is huge.

 

Cost Effective

First Contact resolution not only increases customer satisfaction but improving FCR in your contact centre should be the top priority, simply because it greatly reduces costs.

So there is without a shadow of a doubt a business case for improving first contact resolution, as a result, many companies are investing heavily in customer service training and analytics tools, to measure and improve this voluble metric.

But is focusing mainly on FCR sufficient in order to maintain customer loyalty?
Most certainly not.

 

Keep It Balanced

There are many vital aspects that correspond and impact customer satisfaction thus shaping customer loyalty, these “what-if’s” are:

  • What if; you encountered a poorly trained contact centre agent?
  • What if; the representative didn’t have sufficient product knowledge?
  • What if; you had to be kept on hold for 20 minutes while listening to some ungodly music track?
  • What if; the issue was resolved but the agent was rude and interrupted the conversation numerous times?

 

Diversify

Overly focusing on one metric is a sign of bad management. Embrace the balanced scorecard tactic and evaluate your employees and customer service process’s using these criteria:

  • First Contact Resolution
  • Post contact IVR survey, ask the customer how would they rate the experience
  • Customer retention metric to evaluate the likelihood of a customer leaving within 4 weeks
  • Include Average Handle Time; despite all the hate it gets if you wish you could keep it hidden from the contact centre agents
  • Cross-selling abilities
  • Average time spent on hold; waiting on hold is despised by the customers
  • Number of appropriate escalations
  • Employee satisfaction; happy staff = happy customers

 

First contact resolution is a vital metric which greatly impacts customer satisfaction and helps reducing costs, but focusing on FCR alone is simply not enough.

Take all variables into consideration when trying to increase customer loyalty and act accordingly, ask the customers what parts of the customer experience you provide do they cherish and which ones do they despise, and get to work.

How to Make Agile & Outsourcing Work

Can you apply agile methodology when outsourcing software development? Yes.

There are however a few key factors to consider, before applying agile approach to a nearshore software house.

 

Agile Competency

Is your business accustomed and knowledgeable in regards to agile software development as well as agile project management practices? If not, then outsourcing a fraction of your software development efforts will only complicate the process and make it more challenging.

Agile approach requires a lot of open communication, collaboration and trust between all parties involved; the client as well as the nearshoring partner have to be on the same page when it comes to the software development process.  You need at least some semblance of understanding of how agile methodology works and how it’s applied, and if you do not possess the necessary information then it’s advised to pick a partner who does have it instead as he’ll be able to assist and introduce you to it.

What if you already are have a nearshore software development partner but you’re a beginner and have no idea how to properly apply agile methodology to your current situation? Will it make the process more challenging that if you tried this in-house? Well the most obvious answer also happens to be the correct one; yes, it will be more challenging and demanding but with proper fail-safes even this conundrum can be overcome.

Sadly, factors which  impair or complicate communication, collaboration and trust-maintenance have a tendency to challenge agile implementation.

So taking all of the above into consideration, what can we do to ensure not only success but also maintain a desirable cost to quality ratio?  Shift focus to two key areas: vendor evaluation, agile contracts.

So assuming that we must work with an outsourced component of our product development, what can we do to help ensure success? There are two key areas of focus:

 

Vendor Evaluation

While traditional vendor evaluation focuses on process certifications, manpower and rates. Agile vendor evaluation due to its perks focuses on criteria such as:

  • Productivity
  • System quality
  • Flexibility
  • Collaboration level
  • Scalability

The above vendor qualities are tough to measure, they are however essential in selecting a vendor capable of delivering agile software development and project management, which is what a nearshoring partnership should be in an agile environment.

While these qualities of a vendor are not easy to measure, they are relevant in selecting a vendor for an agile development partnership, which is what an outsourcing relationship should be in an agile environment.


Agile Contracts

Agile software development is centred around one key aspect, building mutual trust between software developers and other parts of your business. If you however outsource software development and project management to another company, it can get pretty convoluted as you have to map mutual trust between your organization and the vendor alongside the usual process range.

Now comes the hard part, are you capable of developing contracts which treat your nearshore software-house as a partner?
It can be pretty difficult at first as most outsourcing contracts are written in a manner which focuses on the possibility of collateral damage and have little to do with ensuring the delivery of value.

I’m speaking from experience here but traditional outsourcing contracts usually prohibit change and as a direct result, encourage inflexibility – both of which are the bane of agile approaches. Furthermore, due to how the relationship is fostered, posturing as well as legal action are a common occurrence which unfortunately leads to trust and open communication erosion.

When developing agile contracts, please consider:

  • Focus on processes and their flexibility instead of which specific results they bring as aiming for a specific result doesn’t allow for change or gradual improvement over time.
  • Close collaboration is far more important than strict contract negotiation; your project needs to fulfil your business goal, not your lawyer’s – make him aware of this beforehand.
  • Agile contracts minimise the risk of a lawsuit by maximising software development efficiency – focus on real value delivery.
  • Determine what needs to be contracted and make sure people with vast understanding of how agile processes work are responsible for this step. Once done, consult your lawyer to put it in legalese.

 

Best Practices

The best practices bellow will assist in making outsourced software development more efficient as well help in fostering a working relationship with your nearshore partner:

  • Minimize dependencies
  • Align training, focus on common team practices and tools
  • Integrate teams and work (mix in-house and outsourced teams and tasks)
  • Enable continuous improvement by including outsourcing partner on customer feedback

Mixing agile methodology with outsourcing adds additional challenges to software development. However, you can minimise the magnitude of these challenges by applying more agile-friendly criteria during partner selection as well as contracting them in a manner which focuses on delivering real value, encouraging flexibility and not impeding collaboration.

Management Change in 3 Steps

Middle managers are responsible for key operations at the core of your business.

They possess the knowledge of what works best for your company versus areas which need improvement.

Thanks to their deep understanding of operational requirements it’s crucial to include them in the decision-making process when considering outsourcing the part of the business they are responsible for.

 

Engage and reassure

Engaging middle managers in all the details of the outsourcing process will be beneficial in the long run. Remember, they are “the middle-man”, and communicate with agents and other front-line employees, so it’s crucial to keep them up to speed at all times. Such actions will reassure them of how much you value their work as well as build trust.

Let’s not forget about the vast operational knowledge middle management has, it’s about time to use it.

 

Trust the management team

Capable managers realise that thanks to the operational knowledge they possess and experience in the field they are irreplaceable and will take steps to protect their position in the company if they feel their job may be at risk.

When planning for outsourcing include as many levels of mid-tier management as you would normally include in strategic planning sessions.

 

Achieving success

To achieve lasting change, you need to understand the specific “political” situation of each and every business team and department. Managers with access to corporate intelligence will be hard to replace.

Ranging from department heads and senior managers to program leads on major projects, they will contribute to the management change effort in a constructive and positive way – all you have to do is keep them in the loop.

How to Align Employee Training with Customer Expectations

Email is the most popular communication method for customer care delivery and with more contact centres embracing the multi-channel approach, proper monitoring is essential in achieving high productivity.

Bellow, you’ll find tips on how to get the most out of email communication channel and deliver exceptional customer experience.

 

Conduct grammar and spelling checks

Emails to customers have to be professional, just being readable won’t cut it. Your contact centre agents can easily undermine your companies image with poor spelling and bad grammar. This step while being fairly easy to conduct will pay off tremendously in the long run and will save precious time while avoiding confusion.

 

Pick the right tone

When monitoring emails, set a central set of rules and guidelines, or even a template. Just don’t be too restrictive, let the agents choose the appropriate tone – one that suits the specific customer query.

An overly formal email might be too hard to understand for most customers, a chatty one, on the other hand, has the potential to alienate the customer.  Also, you wouldn’t address a senior in the same manner as you would a typical college “bro”, now would you?

Simply, let the agents adjust the tone to suit different situations.

 

Coach and review independently across all platforms

When conducting quality checks, use a larger sample pool than just a couple of interactions. This applies to single agent evaluation and team evaluation process as well.

If agents work on multiple communications channels score each one independently and coach accordingly. Good coaching will improve performance, but sometimes agents aren’t meant for some particular channel.

Pay attention to their skill sets, and assign them to projects that will utilise those to their full potential. This will drive productivity even higher.

 

The mystery shopper

Email is no different than a traditional call or even retail when it comes to mystery shoppers. This is a quite simple, yet often overlooked assessment technique that provides valuable data.

Having an external entity grading your staff is a smart move.

 

Answer the question – don’t “copy & paste”

The number times this simple step is overlooked makes us at OpsTalent cringe. Has the contact centre agent actually answered the customer’s query, or did he just send a prescripted response that has nothing to do with the question and provides no resolution what so ever?

Measuring success and first contact resolution will help you identify potential problems, and when these metrics improve it will be a clear sign that you are on a clear path to exceptional customer experience.

Make sure that any potential answers are consistent across all communication channels are consistent and relevant.

Also, personalise the email, it’s a small yet often welcome touch that embraces the vision of brand loyalty.

 

Don’t obsess over response time

Yes, response times do matter, and contact centres, as well as customers, rightfully care about them. Keep in mind tough, that customers understand that email isn’t used as the go-to “real time” channel, that’s what web chat is for or even the conventional phone call, or in some cases remote access.

Just make sure that customers know their request is being processed and that the response will be accurate and delivered in timely fashion.

Set up automated acknowledgements that set realistic response time for each query, this will help in managing customer expectations and your enterprise will avoid possible “clogs” caused by additional mail enquiries – this is especially vital during the festive season or during a new product/campaign launch.

Measuring email quality is easier than you might think,  just make sure that your training and quality expectations are fully aligned – that’s the recipe for exceptional customer service.