It may be a long time before the true value of call analytics data is fully realized, but I’ve been recording the digital marketing revolution one (often uncertain) hello at a time.
No, I’m not from the NSA — I’m the founder of TalkLocal, a local services marketplace that connects consumers to the right businesses by phone. Since call analytics is one measure we use to evaluate the quality of customer service and verify that all consumers are legitimate, we record and review all conversations that take place on our platform.
As such, I’ve heard all kinds of conversations: spouses considering divorce while consulting a prospective lawyer, muffled voices mumbling about their aching molars with their future dentist, a teen who didn’t want his parents to know where he needed their car towed from.
Additionally, my small business clients are among the digitally un-indoctrinated majority. They are business owners who don’t have websites and may not even have a web presence; that’s 55% and 19%, respectively, according to Google and Ipsos 2013 research.
But more elucidating than hearing the personal dramas of people’s everyday lives is bearing witness to people connecting in a digital world that — based on conversations and business feedback — remains very unfamiliar territory.
Here is what I’ve learned:
1. Apparently, the public has grossly over-estimated the ability of modern artificial intelligence to hold a conversation. Businesses, consumers, and our customer service department still spend a lot of time proving their humanity.
2. Experience with modern technology positively correlates with online procrastination. One Salary.com study found that more educated people spend more work hours procrastinating online than their less educated counterparts. Meanwhile, after years of qualifying customer leads personally, I have discovered that people who are new to technology are more likely to submit service requests weeks before they’re ready to buy. Meanwhile, veterans tend to want tasks scheduled “now” for a problem they’ve already known about for months. We reschedule the early and book the urgent.
3. Simplicity is to consumers what the sudden silence of songbirds is to deer: “It must be a trap!” A PowerReviews market study found that customers spend as much as 75% of their shopping time conducting online research. So, if they’re getting a live person instead, that online research converts to a million questions for the salesperson.
4. Thinking about your cost per lead while pitching to a customer is like texting while driving — it can wait. But, unfortunately, SMBs can calculate ROI and CPL in real-time; not weekly or monthly. So, cost-distraction is harder to resist and it can turn professionals into pushy salesmen that drive customers away. According to a 2013 Yodle survey, nearly a quarter (23%) of small businesses still spend zero dollars on marketing. As that number shrinks, the salespeople’s pushiness will certainly spike.
5. Google “fragmented local services space” and you’ll produce 3,700,000 search results. It’s that common to say that the system is broken, fragmented. Just as common is the misconception that traditional marketing or traditional people are to blame. Not so. These awkward moments and faux pas illustrate how change poses challenges for people even as we work to make things better.
So, in reality, tech innovators, most of whom consider themselves problem solvers — myself included — are responsible for breaking the system as a cook is responsible for breaking an egg to make an omelet.
No paradigm shift is smooth and instantaneous. There is always cultural lag and road bumps along the way. I’m just honored to bear witness.
More on pay-per-call: “Pay-Per-Call’s Role in Improving Marketing ROI.”