From the monthly archives:

December 2011

There seems to be a whole slew of maxims and worldly ethical codes that accompany living in this world.

Most of us, without a doubt, have heard of The Golden Rule, in which we treat others the way that we would like to be treated. But when can a business fully harness that sense of ethics in a way that will produce productive results? There are many companies out there with great core values, and practicing these values usually isn’t an issue, until business seems to get in the way.

Today I’m going to be a little less verbose than usual and just dive right into how Incept uses our company value of  Everyone’s a Customer in our everyday lives and roles at Incept.

  • From an organizational perspective

Really when looking to utilize the value of Everyone’s a Customer, you must put yourself in the shoes of not only your clients but your employees. Additionally, you must push to think beyond the typical business-to-client relationship. I play the electric bass guitar in a band and always love grooving it up. My guitarist has said before, when we are writing new songs, that we all have our own sonic vision of how the song sounds and where different parts of it go in our own heads. Really apply that same type of thinking when you have identified your client’s needs and goals, and develop your own sonic vision of how you will assess their needs and plan to achieve their goals. This type of thinking not only brings together multiple people’s brightest ideas, depending on whatever it is you are trying to address, but it also places a certain sense of empathetic thought on what it is going to take to really please your client and treat them as your customer.

  • From an employee perspective

When looking at the value of Everyone’s a Customer to an Incept Conversational Marketing Expert (iCME), not only does it refer back to the type of thinking above, but it also is a tool that we use to determine what we need to do to be successful. Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) – really everyone in the company of Incept, for that matter – view Everyone’s a Customer in the terms that, if someone needs your help or advice, they are your customer. If you don’t show up to work, keep that type of thing in mind because your fellow employees are your customers, as well as your bosses. When you are asked to go into a program to call that might be a little more difficult at the moment, keep in mind your shift supervisors are your customers just as much as the folks who we literally talk on the phones with. This type of thinking is highly efficient in that it gives employees self-empowerment to realize they are an important part of the team, it helps address schedule adherence issues and, on top of it, always makes sure Incept is aiming to continue to provide world-class level service to our clients. What isn’t to like or embrace?

It’s easy to see how simple company values really do go beyond being just words, becoming mentally sharpened tools that organizations can use to their advantage when providing excellent service or any type to any client. What are some other ways you can use Everyone’s A Customer in either the workplace or everyday life?

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As 2011 comes to an end, I started thinking about all of the lives impacted by blood donors.

At Incept, we recruited nearly 220,000 blood donors this year making it possible for as many as 660,000 blood recipients to spend time with their loved ones. And we are only responsible for a portion of the blood donors that go out each and every day giving of themselves so that others may receive the gift of life.

So it is now that I want to thank the thousands of employees that work for The American Red Cross and community blood centers across the nation. We often forget all of those that work in collections, marketing, laboratory services, development, finance, building and fleet, as well as all of the executives that each play a vital role in keeping our nation’s blood supply safe. While the recipients may never know your name, we know you are there and working each day to make a better tomorrow for those in need of blood and blood products.

From all of us at Incept, thank you for all that you do in making sure so many ill and injured have a Happy New Year. We wish you joy and peace in 2012!

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When it comes to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, you really have to admire the steps they have taken as an organization within the blood bank industry.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has been operating since January 1st, 1975. They currently serve 170 hospitals and associated medical care facilities within a 26-county area amongst the Texas Gulf Coast, Brazos Valley and East Texas regions respectively. It is extremely convenient that Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center currently has 17 Neighborhood Donor Centers, as well as a plethora of mobile site blood drives going on almost daily to meet the scheduling needs of their donors. Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center actually set their blood unit collection goal to 335,000 units of blood for 2011, which means they must receive over 900 units daily!

If you take a look at their recent track record when it comes to getting blood donors through their donor center’s doors, they have actually exceeded their own collection goals in 2007 by 18,000 more donations than in 2006, and in 2009 as well with over 11,000 additional units! To help them along in their endeavor is the successful Commit For Life program that really acts as a relationship-building cornerstone between the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and its generous donors. Commit For Life goes beyond being a donor loyalty program and really encompasses the feeling of a partnership with the overall goal to save lives and continuously spread the word about Commit For Life and how donating blood can really make a positive impact, not just today, but in the future as well.

Donors relaxing at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center's Sugarland Neighborhood Donor Center.

Incept and the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center began a collaborative partnership in 2005. At the root of the overall goal of helping the blood center achieve their unit collection goals lies a conversational marketing strategy that our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) use daily in their efforts of recruiting, retaining and even converting blood donors for different apheresis  donations. By 2009, Incept’s strategy had resulted in an astounding 22.74% increase in the number of monthly blood donor appointments for the blood center within a four-year period.

What makes this business partnership feel like Incept and The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center have developed a very positive relationship is easy. The blood center has taken many internal steps to make sure they (as an organization) are doing everything they can to bring in meaningful donations in a consistent manner and have made their annual goals crystal clear. Combining this with Incept’s industry-leading expertise of conversational marketing, and how to apply those strategies towards the blood center’s needs as our client, we are able to not only have meaningful conversations that produce positive results, but literally act as stand-in ambassadors and the human link between Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and their donors.

At the end of the day, our relationship comes down to the realization of specific needs and goals. Rather than just taking a stab in the dark at addressing those things, taking a Lead by Listening stance on realistically obtaining those goals and letting our conversations make the results that speak for themselves is our mission.

Want to learn more about what Incept can do for your company or nonprofit organization? Find out more here!

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More often than not, when you need help with something, you need help with something specific.

In the case of blood banks and blood centers across America, that specific need is always changing and varying on a day-to-day basis. One day a blood center might be in critical need of A+ platelets, and the next day it might need as many B- red cell donors as possible.

This gentleman is doing a "Double Red Cell" donation.

When it comes to blood donor recruitment in the shoes of an Incept Conversational Marketing Expert (iCME), we don’t just recruit for whole blood donors, but also all the different kinds of apheretic donations. These donations include, plasma, platelets, and red cell donations or even “split” donations where half of the amount collected is platelets or plasma, and the other half is red cells.

But how do you go about converting a regular whole blood donor who has never attempted to try one of the above types of donations? Here are some of the methods that an Incept Conversational Marketing Expert (iCME) uses to convert whole blood donors to red cell or platelet donors as well.

  • We help the donors understand the importance of red cells and platelets needed.

Sometimes people just need to understand why we are asking them as blood donors to do a different type of donation if the need arises. In the case of red cells, red blood cells carry oxygen through the body via the blood stream. In the event of trauma situations such as car accidents or surgeries, the oxygen from those red cells is what keeps your brain alive and functioning while you are treated. In the case of platelets, also known as white blood cells, their job is to fight off infections or sickness within your blood stream, and they play a vital role in a healthy immune system. When cancer patients go through chemotherapy, the radiation does not spare their platelets. Chemotherapy, while effective, can leave a patient very open to foreign illnesses and susceptible to getting sick.

These are just a few reasons why we ask donors to consider their donation choice:

  • We thoroughly educate the donor about the process.

I remember when I ordered my newest bass guitar. I researched and learned about it all I could before ordering. The same kind of concept goes into when we convert whole blood donors to apheresis donors. We want to educate them about the process if they have never done it before. Really when it comes down to it, there are only a few differences when it comes to the donation process. You usually get a slightly smaller needle, so it’s generally more comfortable. With double reds you are only eligible to donate once every sixteen weeks, as opposed to once every eight weeks, so you also save time donating. You get saline placed back in your body during the “return” process when you get your other blood components back, so you are more hydrated and you are not leaving a full pint low. These are just a few of the benefits associated with a double red cell donation.

  • We don’t just ask a donor to consider a red cell donation, we invite them to.

When recruiting blood donors, us Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) at Incept realize that most of these people have been asked consistently and constantly, over and over again to donate. We take a different approach by not asking them, but inviting them back to consider donating red cells or platelets. I know what you are thinking, “You’re still asking them. You are just phrasing it differently!” Yes and no. While we are still asking a blood donor to donate, by inviting rather than asking we are literally making them feel that they are more than just a blood donor. They are a valued individual whose time spent donating is appreciated just as much as the actual transfusable product. Inviting them back to donate, rather than just flat-out asking, also enables us to encompass the many great benefits of a blood center’s donor loyalty program or other special promotions as well!

Next time you donate blood, if you can, think about trying out a red cell donation or even a platelet donation. If you are still feeling a little unsure, no worries! We’ll help out in any way you can.

What questions do you have about red cell, platelet or plasma specific donations?

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Santa is in, are you?The Holiday Season has appeared again!

We are all busy making cookies, putting up decorations, shopping for our loved ones and taking part in all the other normal holiday traditions. It feels like the holidays are the busiest time of the year, but they can also be one of the happiest!

One thing that you can’t forget to cross off your list is donating blood. There is always a need for your lifesaving gift, but with everyone’s busy schedule during the holidays, your gift is needed now more than ever. So you may be getting a phone call soon from a blood donor recruiter. Do everyone a favor: answer the call and schedule an appointment! Or just stop by your local Blood Donor Center and make a donation today!

This is truly the greatest gift you can give someone, as it is a lifesaving gift. Your donation can make someone’s holiday even brighter!

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Employee referral programs or incentives are a common theme these days.

Some are successful, and others are not. Few people ever dig deep enough into them, though, to truly understand why their program is successful or not. Typically, if the program is successful, the company just enjoys the successful recruitment avenue. If they are not successful, most companies either throw more money at them or just abandon the program altogether. Either way, it’s critical to understand why a referral program is working or not, as the story tends to tell quite a bit about the organization at the ground level.

At Incept, we have found employee referrals are critical to our growth and recruitment success. This is true for several reasons. Referred employees are typically higher performers, have better attendance, and stay with the company longer – thus reducing our cost per graduating employee. In addition, employee referrals have a positive impact on morale. As documented in multiple polls conducted by Gallup, having a best friend at work increases employee satisfaction and morale.

We all know increased satisfaction and morale lead to increased productivity, and increased productivity leads to increased profits. Sounds like a winning combination right? At Incept, we have found employee referrals to be the most cost-effective channel for recruitment. Despite the large payout that a current employee receives for bringing a friend to Incept, this channel still remains one of the lowest cost per acquisition methods we use.

The referred candidate already knows about the company and the job, but the best part is they know about it and understand it from the perspective a person that is in the same role they will soon be in. They get the unfiltered story about our management team, our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs), our policies, the type of work that will be expected each day, the way they can expect to be treated, and how they will feel each day when their shift is over. For us, at Incept, these things are awesome motivators for a new candidate to choose Incept over one of the many competitive contact centers in our area!

I can go on and on about the benefits of an employee referral program, but if you are having success with one you likely already know about most of them. What you really need to know is this: if your program is NOT working, then why?

As much as we would all love to believe that it’s all about the money, the simple fact of the matter is it’s not all about the money. If you are attempting to build a full staff of productive employees and your only hook is compensation, you will likely end up paying a lot of money per hour to people for very short periods of time! Instead of investing all of that money in signing bonuses and higher-than-standard wages, invest some of those dollars in a basic health check on your current staff.

Find out if they are happy. Do they enjoy the work they do each day? Does it make them feel fulfilled? Do they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves? Do they understand what your company’s mission is? Do they know why their job is important? How do they feel about their managers? Do they feel as if they have all the tools necessary to do a good job every day? Do they feel like anyone at your company cares about them as a person? Do they feel like there is room for advancement or any benefit to achieving their maximum potential in their current position? The questions could go on and on, but the point is simple: if your organization is not healthy, no matter what you do with your employee referral program, it will never show the success you need from it.

Once you have done your health check, spent the necessary time to make the adjustments you find are necessary, and invested in your current staff, you will find that your employee referral program begins to work. You will also find that you can likely spend less money on your referral program and net even better results from it. When your employees are happy and believe in your company, they are eager to recruit new employees for you. After all, who doesn’t want to help out a friend with a great job? Now it’s up to you to turn your company into a place that is considered great.

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Using conversation to recruit a blood donor for an appointment is more of an art than a science. You cannot just assume that you have found the method most effective to recruit donors and then stick with it for all donor types.

Just as it is critical for a blood center to know the type of blood they need, it’s critical for a donor recruitment professional to understand the type of donor they are speaking with and cater the conversation to that donor and their situation. There are parts of a recruitment conversation that are consistent regardless of the type of donor you are speaking with, like your intro and your closing statement for an appointment, but all of that conversation that occurs between the intro and the confirmation should be tailored to your specific donor type.

When speaking with a current donor, acknowledging that they are a regular donor, using language that lets them know you know they are familiar with the process, and acknowledging past donations and loyalty programs (if the blood center offers them) are all important parts to strengthening the relationship. If you are speaking to a lapsed donor, it’s critical to try to understand why they are a lapsed donor. What caused them to stop donating? At one point, they were donating, and now they have stopped. But why? If you really want to have a true conversation with that lapsed donor, you must understand why they do not donate now, and attempt to overcome that hurdle before you just try to push them into an appointment. Asking the right questions, asking them the right way, and then responding appropriately are key components to having a productive conversation with a lapsed donor.

A conversation that will drive meaningful results and strengthen the relationship between that donor and the blood center is always the goal. When a lapsed donor knows you are truly interested in them as a person and truly interested in helping them, they tend to be more willing to listen to your pitch and more willing to roll their sleeve up and try donating again. After all, at some point in time, they understood the benefit of donating and believed in the cause.

With a staff of real Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) and extensive recruitment training, you cannot only keep recruiting your current donor base with success, but you can reactivate your lapsed donor base and begin immediately putting more blood onto the shelves.

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Ah yes, the holiday season is in full swing. This is easily one of my favorite times of the year.

No matter how old I get, I still love ripping into presents on Christmas morning. I always watch as much of A Christmas Story as I possibly can, and let’s just say don’t get between me and my honey baked ham if you want to keep all your limbs!

But no matter what time of year it is, the need for blood is always there. Each day in America, just to refresh your memories, about 38,000 blood donations are needed for patients, and currently about seventy-five percent of Americans will need a blood transfusion at one point in their lives. With those kind of statistics it is always important to remember to donate if you can during the holidays. Let’s take a brief second to review the reasons why blood donations are typically needed with more urgency during this awesome and festive time of year.

  • Local high schools and colleges are typically on holiday break.

The American Red Cross receives about twenty percent of all of its blood donations from high school and college students! Needless to say, when high schools and colleges across the nation go on holiday or winter break it really doesn’t help the efforts of local blood banks and centers trying to keep their own respective blood supplies at safe levels.

  • As holiday travel increases so do accidents.

Around the holidays from Thanksgiving through New Year’s in the United States, traffic increases on roads by anywhere from twenty-three to fifty-four percent! That is mind-boggling! Of course, when you put more people on the roadways together there are bound to be more accidents, and that is usually what happens. Blood is crucially needed for these types of situations, especially red cell donations for trauma situations and emergency surgeries.

  • Many people feel they are too busy to donate!

We all know the holiday season is a very hectic time for many people – myself included. Many good folks, and even many regular blood donors, are trying the best they can to gear up for the in-laws, get the kids those special gifts and make sure the decorations are hung with care in anticipation of festivities. While all of this maybe true, once again, the need for blood never takes a holiday. That is why right now at Incept, as a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) recruiting blood donors, we want to be as gentle (yet as assumptive) as we can to kindly get blood donors into their local donor centers to donate.

These are just a few of the main reasons why around this time of year your help is definitely needed. Just think of what one blood donation could do for someone else! Who knows, you could be helping someone’s family member be able to celebrate another year with them just from one whole blood donation. Plus, this is definitely a deed that is worthy of being put on a certain fat man’s nice list. So what is stopping you from donating if you’re eligible?

What are some other reasons that blood donations are slow during the holidays?

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When it comes to a few things, I’m not a very picky guy.

I enjoy pizza either in plain cheese form or loaded sky-high with toppings. When it comes to my love for automobiles, I can appreciate a car with fine lines regardless of the origin of make or model. Even down to my music choices as of late, I don’t discriminate between Marvin Gaye, The Misfits or Armin Van Buuren; just let the track play and the grooving commence. But when it comes to the wide world of Hematology (the overall study of blood), blood type is something where a certain sense of fastidiousness is definitely needed!

Overall, there are eight different blood types: A+, A-, B+, B-, O+, O-, AB+, and finally AB-. Blood type is something almost like your eye or hair color. You quite literally inherit that type genetically from your parents. Blood type is something that is crucial in medical emergencies and other situations, due to the fact that administering the wrong type of blood during a transfusion can result in uncompromising effects on the immune system. Knowing your blood type isn’t only extremely helpful for medical reasons alone, but as a blood donor you will know if it would be more helpful for you to do a whole blood donation or possibly an apheresis style donation.

Let’s take a quick glance at a few cases where blood type matters!

  • Soldiers on the battlefield have their blood type labeled on their identification tags.

I was watching an interesting show on the Science Channel called Oddities. It’s a show about an oddball and, dare I say, avant-garde kind of shop that specializes in all sorts of weird and interesting, time-period-specific collectables that you wouldn’t normally see in most antique shops. In this episode particularly, there was an artist interested in purchasing a blood transfusion kit from World War I. Whenever a solider was injured to the point that they needed to receive a blood transfusion, they could quickly identify the type needed and perform the transfusion – literally straight from the donating soldier into whoever would be receiving it! A lot of donors I talk to while on the phones at Incept, usually donate while out and about. But talk about donating on the go!

  • Different ethnic cultures have varying percentages of certain blood types.

Depending on where you are from or what your cultural background is can have a lot to do with your blood type, believe it or not. Blood centers and blood banks during times of shortages will even gently request that people of certain ethnicity donate in order to stabilize supplies of specific blood types. In America, Caucasian donors make up the highest percent of donors with A+, while Hispanic donors usually make up the highest percent of O+ type donors. People of Asian dexcent have the highest percentage of B+ blood donors.

  • What does it mean to be a Universal Donor or Universal Recipient?

You might know or have heard that the blood type O- is the type of blood that, regardless of the type of blood the recipient has, can be accepted by everyone during a transfusion therefore, making them the universal donors of donating. When it comes to individuals who have AB blood types, they are the only ones able to receive transfusions of AB blood successfully, yet can still receive all other blood types making them the only universal recipients. The deciding factor: antigens (anything capable of inducing a reaction to our immune systems), which are proteins found on our red cells tissue and membranes. Really it’s the kind of antigens (if you have any even) and antibodies in your plasma that will determine which blood type you can receive.

We’ve just scratched the surface of this topic, since Hematology is quite an intensive field of study in medicine. Regardless, what other cases can you think of in which blood type matters?

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When it comes to being unique, what is it that truly defines that quality within or about someone?

Is it a huge multicolored mohawk, adorned in liberty spike style that grabs your attention? Maybe it is an awesome pair of ultra-rare Dinosaur Jr. Nike SB Dunks just screaming for notoriety from their wearer’s feet. Could it possibly be a face full of piercings and ears that are gauged so big you can almost fit a soda can through them that command your eyes to gaze with wonder? And let us not forget the full assortment of tattoos to match. At this point I can only imagine the type of imagery you as a reader are envisioning! It’s almost humorous what our brains can determine to be unique when generating a first impression of someone. In all reality, I have used one of my friends for inspiration in writing the first paragraph of this blog.

What does it mean to you to be unique?

The thing about the term and quality of being unique is that it can come across in a rather superficial way – sadly enough – especially within the context of today’s society. Always remember that the way you made people feel within the interactions you share daily in your life will always be what makes you as a person unique rather than your looks, because, after all, with age your looks fade away.

When it comes to being an innovator within the Conversational Marketing field, as well as a philosophical zebra of a different set of stripes when it comes to company culture, Incept recognizes the fact that no matter what we do, we always strive to strengthen the relationships between ourselves and our customers and clientele. Here are three big reasons why Incept is currently leading the way in the field of blood donor recruitment and why we stand out above our competitors:

  • We capitalize on one of the biggest things that makes Incept unique: our company culture.

The thing consistently noted about Incept is the atmosphere in which all of us work. It’s really a productive and friendly environment. Do you understand how encouraging it is to come to work and see so many different types of people getting along naturally? People aren’t just coworkers at Incept, they are friends. And that type of camaraderie not only has a positive effect on employee morale, but it has also created a team vibe where we always look to succeed as both a world-class organization and as a collective team of goal-focused individuals working towards our clients’ goals first and company goals second. This is what it really means to harness the energy of your own company culture.

  • We always think about what it means to “Strengthen the Relationship” with out donors and clients in every call we have.

When it comes to our industry there is a big misunderstanding that one always has to be pushy and overly assumptive – almost to the point of being aggressive – with someone just to get a sale or appointment (or whatever the conversion might be). At Incept we do believe in being assumptive, but we believe that the way we end each call with our donors and customers is what is really important. Sometimes that doesn’t mean getting the appointment or getting that close; as long as we do what the donor or customer asks us to do and can manage to pull it off to where that person gets off the phone with a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) and feels good about why we called (or even simply about talking to us), that is what it is really about. There are no instances of force-feeding anyone products or trying to push people into tentative appointments. The quality of our conversations speak for themselves when it’s time to check the results.

  • We are a Conversational Marketing Firm, not a telecommunications agency.

There has always been a big misconception of what we actually do here at Incept. Yes, at the very core of our business the telephone is one of our biggest tools when it comes to literal communication of the spoken kind, but that doesn’t mean we are telemarketers. When you think of the word conversation, do you think of two people talking? That is what it is all about. Communicating to create meaningful results through productive conversations is what we stand for. This doesn’t mean talking at someone, but rather with them – putting more of an emphasis on listening. By simply listening to our donors and engaging them in quality conversations is really how we have been so successful and helps to explain why Incept has catapulted to become a leader in the industry.

Many organizations seem to still have this cookie-cutter image of what they want to be, not what their customers need them to be. For Incept, being a unique organization doesn’t have to mean that, though. At the core of all that we do it is our clients and customers we put first – even before ourselves as a company – and that is the main attribute behind why Incept stands out from the pack.

What other examples do you have of companies that are unique within their own industries?

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