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Howie Mandel said, “People who annoy people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Woody Hayes said, “Paralyze resistance with persistence.”

Howie knows comedy and Woody knows football, but they wouldn’t have done so well in tele-recruiting. Persistence is delicate. With too much persistence, you annoy donors and prompt them to request removal from your database. With too little persistence, your donors fail to donate. In either case donations drop, hospitals have less blood available, and fewer lives are saved.

So, how often should you contact a donor? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Your contact center will need to modify best practices based upon trial and error.

The following guidelines, however, can inform your strategy as you optimize it:

  • Dial a household no more than once every 3 days.
  • If a donor does not want to schedule, or is currently unable to donate, wait at least 21 days before you call again unless a medical condition or recent travel dictates shorter or longer wait times.
  • If a donor cannot donate for at least a month (e.g., is pregnant, away at college, or out of town for an extended time), adjust the callback dates in your database to reflect this.

Once you have established contact frequency rules, ensure that your tele-recruiters adhere to them strictly. Doing so can reduce your blood center’s opt-out rate by as much as 36%, increase the longevity of your call files, and save more lives.

In what other ways do you determine optimal contact frequency?

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It’s not enough to hire people and trust them to consistently relate well with donors. Let’s face it, saying the same things to numerous people each day, and being turned down by a large percentage of them, can be demotivating. It can turn a very important job into a routine.

What gets measured gets done. Everything else is optional. Your people will respect what you inspect. A blood center that raises conversation quality to the highest level of importance will have tele-recruiters who gauge success by quality interactions. Without this, tele-recruiters tend to feel they’ve done good jobs just by churning the front-end numbers.

High-quality conversations benefit everyone. They strengthen your blood center’s relationships with its donors and are more fulfilling to your representatives.

Implementing the following steps will establish a culture of conversational quality in your call center and strengthen relationships with your donors:

  1. Change your language
  2. Define Quality Standards
  3. Connect Quality Standards to employment policies
  4. Appoint a dedicated Conversational Quality Manager
  5. Audit tele-recruiting conversations
  6. Grade tele-recruiting conversations
  7. Generate a personalized conversational quality audit report for each tele-recruiter
  8. Distribute conversational quality audit reports to supervisors
  9. Task supervisors with discussing audit reports with tele-recruiters

Stay tuned for our next post describing each of the above methods!

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Coaching sessions can mean the difference between successful blood donor recruitment and unsuccessful blood donor recruitment. Our Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) depend on Formal Coaching Sessions in order to improve and enhance their skills. These sessions should be Durable, Actionable, Straightforward, and Helpful. You may remember these using the acronym “DASH”.

  • Durable: Written records from Formal Coaching should be easy to understand—not just at the moment but also in the future. Supervisors should spell out details and avoid abbreviations. A written record is durable if a tele-recruiter can understand it 5 days after the session just as easily as during the session.
  • Actionable: The tele-recruiter must have a crystal clear understanding of how to act upon the advice received and the benefits of doing so.
  • Straightforward: The tele-recruiter should understand each word, line, instruction, and piece of advice that is offered. The supervisor must be adept at recognizing confusion and at clarifying when needed.
  • Helpful: This is not just a “feel good” meeting. The content of the discussion must be honest and useful so that the tele-recruiter can use it to score more wins.

What kinds of tools do you use in your Formal Coaching Sessions?

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Some donor recruitment conversations will end in appointments, while others will not. Each one requires its own closing. Examples of how each conversation should end are as follows:

Closing Calls That End In Appointments

Donors who schedule donation appointments should feel good about their decisions.

  • Show renewed appreciation for the donor once again helping to save lives.
  • Be certain the donor knows everything necessary to ensure a successful donation, including pre-donation instructions like eating an iron-rich meal, drinking plenty of fluids, and bringing a photo ID.
  • Confirm the date, time, location, and address of the appointment.
  • Provide a phone number to call with any questions before the appointment.

Calls That Do Not End In Appointments

Donors who don’t schedule appointments should also feel good about their decisions.

  • Be positive. Ending the conversation on a positive note sets the tone for the next interaction and maintains a positive relationship between the donor and blood center.
  • Help the donor feel like they made the right decision. Show empathy. They may be ill, going through a difficult time, or simply having a bad day. Show that the blood center cares.
  • Open the door for future donations, should the donor’s situation change.
  • Provide a phone number or website to self-schedule in the future.
  • Before hanging up, let the donor know that the blood center appreciates their previous contributions.

How do you differentiate your closing statements?

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Thank-you calls help to establish respectful, long-term relationships and build loyalty with those who selflessly donate life-saving gifts.

Timeliness is Crucial

Call donors the day after their donation to thank them for their generosity and reinforce how important their donations are to the community. Use personalized scripting for first-time donors, automated donors, and donors with special blood types and antigens.

Sincerity is Too

It is important that thank-you calls strengthen donor relationships without asking for anything in return. People do not like being called upon only when they are needed to give something. Simple thank-you calls let donors know you care about them. In addition to saying thank you, ensure that the donation experience was a positive one. If you have a donor loyalty program, recap details on how to check status and redeem perks as well.

If you reach a voice mail or answering machine, leave a brief thank-you message and a contact number to call with any follow-up questions or concerns. If there is no answer of any sort, try again the next day. But remember, you want to share your appreciation; you don’t want to become an annoyance with numerous phone calls.

How do  you thank your blood donors?

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If you know your prime times, staffing at the appropriate times is a relatively simple decision. But all too often blood donor recruitment departments are staffed from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. because that is when tele-recruiters or managers prefer to work. That, however, is typically the least effective time of day to tele-recruit. Our experience indicates that attempts to reach donors after 5:00 p.m. are 11% more successful. Set your Contact Center’s hours according to your donors’ preferences.

Identifying Ideal Staff Levels via Dials Per Hour

How many tele-recruiters to staff is also a relatively straightforward decision. You will need to know your Dials Per Hour. Here is the formula:

Simply multiply your Dials Per Hour times the number of days per week that your contact center operates. Then divide that number by 8 hours, which represents one Full Time Equivalent (FTE). That will tell you the number of tele-recruiters to staff.

If you suspect that your Dials Per Hour is low, look closely at whether your tele-recruiters are spending longer than necessary on phone calls and also how they are using non-productive time.

How are you staffing you blood donor recruitment center?

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A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Joe Gibbs (three Super Bowl titles, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two-time NHRA Pro Stock team owner) speak for an American Teleservices Association (ATA) conference where he talked about leadership. Coach Gibbs explained that three things were expected of leaders: communicate expectations, provide training, and hold people accountable. He took exception to the Peter Principle, saying that people don’t typically fail because they rise to a level that’s above them; it’s usually because leaders fail to provide adequate training.

Coincidentally, Incept undertook a branding initiative about a year ago with the objective of becoming a world-class organization. In setting that compass, Incept committed to a “listen before we lead” approach with both our clients and our employees. So, as part of this initiative, we asked our employees a series of questions aimed and defining our roadmap to become world-class in our service. Can you guess what they told us? Their feedback indicated a thirst for training, knowledge, and growth. No big surprise there, right?

In turning that feedback into something actionable, Incept’s Live The Brand oversight committee developed a service standard: “With education, constant improvement and growth are expected.” With every service standard, there should be a definition, so the committee went on to create the definition: “As we pursue our goal of becoming a world-class organization, we recognize that the continuous training and development of all employees is key.” And in order for us to truly live our brand, the committee created these actions:

  • Employee – Every day I will seek opportunities to better myself and my career.
  • Organization – We will provide tools and resources that help our employees accomplish their personal and professional goals.

Providing the tools and resources is a significant undertaking. Consequently, we formed a subcommittee entitled: Learning Never Stops. Current Learning Never Stops subcommittee members include Incept’s CEO Sam Falletta, Conversational Marketing Expert Zev Rosenburg, Program Results Supervisor Allison Legg, Shift Supervisor Amber Nelson, and VP of New Client Results Jim Beuoy.

Again, we deployed our “listen before we lead” approach and asked the employees to provide specific subject matter for the courses. The interest was beyond our expectations. Employees quickly realized that by Incept investing in them, they would become better employees, become more engaged with the brand, and provide better service to our clients.

The Learning Never Stops subcommittee outlined a plan for ongoing education, determining which trainings are mandatory, which are optional and at what intervals they should be held. Topics vary, ranging from leadership to communication to personal well-being. Plans include training curriculum, performance management (formal and informal) and an advancement path for success both personally and professionally. The outcome is Incept University. It’s run like many universities in that there are requirements for acceptance, credits for successfully passing course assessments, and majors – which are career paths through various disciplines within the organization.

The concept of a corporate learning and development center, regardless of the title, isn’t something new. Even the concept of a corporate university has been around for awhile. So far, Incept’s appears to be a rousing success as employees frequently ask about timing of courses, how they can take corrective action on attendance and performance to become eligible, and other expressions of interest. Still, there could be challenges along the way. We’re interested in hearing from others about keys to success and potential pitfalls of corporate development.

What’s your experience been in launching and sustaining a “Learning Never Stops” initiative?

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Recently, Google released a new social tool that has the potential to be a Facebook “like” killer: +1.

Google +1 button

In essence, what this does is allow a user to “vote up” search results. If you deem something worthy of what you are searching for, then you should click the +1 button (that looks like the one to your left). The idea is to aggregate all of the data and put the search results that have been +1′d the most at the top, making them the most relevant to your search query.

The only way to actually see or use this new tool is to sign up for the experiment on Google, and log in to your account. If you have a Google Profile, you can see all of your +1s and share them with your friends within your social graph – if you so choose. As you can see in the screen shot below, if you don’t have a profile, you won’t be able to see your +1 history.

Live +1 button

The Social Circle

Down in Austin, TX, not too long ago, rumors were bouncing around that Google was releasing a new social networking platform, called “Circles.” However, within just a few hours of the whispers surfacing, Google immediately laid it to rest by denying the rumors. Nonetheless, if you were to follow the bread crumbs, you would see that Google is indeed up to something. With the denial of “Circles” came +1, not even a month later.

Why would they do this instead of moving ahead with “Circles?” Assuming that you (and your friends) have a Google Profile, and you have opted to link your other social networking accounts to it, every one of your friends within your social graph will have more relevant search results returned to them. That being said, there are various implications – both good and bad – this could have with regard to search engine optimization (SEO).


As the old adage goes, “The world is your oyster.” This holds especially true, as far as Google is concerned. Google spokespeople say that the +1 is not for boosting site rankings or marketing, but rather a way to get the best, most relevant and highest value search results – results that mean more to you, because it’s likely that you trust the opinions of the like-minded people in your social circle.

You could argue that it would be better to return results that have the most relevance to what you are specifically searching for, rather than those +1′d by people in your circle. To do this, all you have to do is to log out of your Google account. The results could end up becoming a bit biased, in that Google crawlers would crawl your friends’ +1s before crawling the rest of the web, thereby giving you a false positive.

What’s Next?

Buried deep in their javascript was an embeddable +1 button. And it worked too.

Google issued this statement on the button:

While we’re thrilled that publishers are anxious to integrate the +1 button into their sites, we’re still working things out and aren’t quite ready for this to be publicly available just yet, so we’re disabling this in the code. Webmasters and other publishers interested in using +1 on their sites should get in touch with us here.

Once the embeddable button is activated (legitimately, this time), Facebook “likes” will have some competition, and they should be worried. With the new changes at Google, and the way employee bonuses are determined by social media success, Google’s innovation and imagination have no limits.

Google has been known to fail – and fail epically, at that – but it hasn’t stopped them. Just look at Hotpot and what they have done recently with Latitude. With Larry Page returning to the helm, he is quickly bringing Google back to its startup roots with less red tape and more innovation. Another circle, if you will.

What do you think is next for Google? Do you think that Facebook should be worried?

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Recently I talked about how March is the one-year anniversary of our adventure into blogging at Incept. I sat down, read just about every blog we (as a team) had written and picked my Top 10 Incept Saves Blogs.

It only seemed fair to go back, look at them all again and pick out my favorite Incept Results Top 10. Here they are:

  1. “Conversations: Quantity Versus Quality” ~ December 2010, by Sam Falletta
  2. “When ‘No’ Actually Means ‘Maybe’” ~ April 2010, by Sam Falletta
  3. “Listening to the Message Between the Words” ~ November 2010, by Dave Walter
  4. “Compliance = Listening” ~ April 2010, by Sam Falletta
  5. “You ARE the Company” ~ December 2010, by Jim Beuoy
  6. “The Internet Conversation Cycle for Brands” ~ September 2010, by Nate Riggs
  7. “Customer Service in Reverse: Everyone’s a Customer” ~ December 2010, by Stephen Smith
  8. “How Far We’ve Come and How Much Further We Can Go!” ~ February 2011, by Jim Beuoy
  9. “The Golden Rule & Standing Orders” ~ June 2010, by Stephen Smith
  10. “365 WOWs” ~ December 2010, by Sam Falletta

I have to compliment my good friend and mentor, Mr. Sam Falletta, for taking ownership of this list I put together. All of these blogs posts are great resources of insight and information, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

So here’s to our first year of blogging (and many more to come)!

Did I miss a post that you liked? Which post(s) would you have picked?

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I, along with 500 million of my closest friends, have a tendency to use Facebook at least once a day.

I’m sure most of you log in more than once daily. That’s okay. I’m not judging. I am not going to get into demographics or even statistics because that is beyond the scope of this post, and that’s not what I intend to actually discuss. However, I have provided an image that shows a breakdown of user stats from 2009 compared to users in 2010.

Facebook stats

Status Updates

Let’s start with an example: “I’m eating a cheeseburger right now, and it’s tasty.

Great, glad to hear that you are consuming sustenance for your body. Quite frankly, however, I just might not want to know that you are eating a cheeseburger. Instead of posting something as mundane as that (and not garnering any attention from your friends), why not try giving the update some context. For instance, “I’m eating a cheeseburger with BBQ sauce, topped with onion rings, bacon, arugula and a grilled lobster tail. Jealous?

What this example has done is draw the interest of your friends, which may, in turn, elicit a response. Status updates aren’t about common, everyday events that no one really cares about. The status update is a way to be creative in communicating the trivial tasks you’re letting your friends know about. Then again, no one really cares that you went to the dentist either. Creative or not, don’t do it (but that’s just my opinion).

Profile: Bibliography

This is where it can get kind of tricky. What it comes down to is this: if you are going to use your profile for personal means or your personal/professional ones (i.e., you use it personally to connect with friends – but at the same time, you have work friends – Facebook provides you with a multitude of options. If you choose to use Facebook for personal/professional use be wary of the privacy settings that have a tendency to change without notice and quite regularly. Knowing how to set up friend lists (so only certain friends have access to your social network) can save your personal life, online social reputation and professional career.

Don’t be afraid to share some easter eggs about yourself, but don’t get so creative that nobody understands what you are saying. Social networks, in general, encourage bits of narcissism, and with the amount of space allowed by Facebook, it’s bound to happen. Go ahead and share, I say. Having the same interests and commonalities as someone else can provide for a lasting friendship, whether virtual or not. Just remember this: less is more.

A word about age (rather a quote, if you will): “While you may want to include your birthday on your Facebook profile, you should exclude the birth year. Your friends and family know how old you are, and there’s no reason for your professional ones to know.”  ~ Kirsten Dixson, a reputation management and online identity expert.

Content: Links, News, Videos, Photos, etc.

Posting content is great. Not only does it inform your friends of the happenings of the day, it can also showcase your interests and your areas of expertise in your profession. Of course, some of your friends may not want to know about how “Little Zeus the Hairless Cat Won a Lock of Justin Bieber’s Hair” in an auction or how “Bristol Palin Can’t Stay in the Lines of a Coloring Book.” Try sticking to something that is relevant to you and your area of expertise. However, every now and then post something random. A penny for your thoughts: humor works every time.

If you’re posting photos, try not to post photos that are embarrassing to you and/or your friends in the photo. If the photo made you laugh, great. Unfortunately, that funny picture (of whatever it may happen to be), could be extremely embarrassing to your friend(s), so don’t get “tag happy.” This could possibly hinder their social credibility, and you could get unfriended, both virtually and personally.

A word of advice: if you have to think about it, it probably shouldn’t go up.

Photo Credit: istrategylabs

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