Three Ways to Boost Your Conferences in 2014

Towards the end of 2013, I had a customer call in and ask me one simple question: "Is there anything we’re not taking advantage of?" There are a number of features we include, but customers might not know about. We went over a couple of things that I noticed he wasn’t using and suggested using things like web conferencing and conference call recording for his calls in 2014.

Here are three of my favorite features to suggest to customers.

Brand Your Conference Calls

Add a custom greeting to your conference line so you can brand your events to your company. You can also use it to share news and events. It’s easy to do and we can update the message as often as you like. A lot of our customers like this option because the participant knows who is hosting the conference and is reassured that they have dialed into the right call.

Custom Hold Music / Greetings

A customer in financial planning uses custom hold music to play a recorded message about the different services his company offers. This is a great use of a free option to turn the waiting room before the conference begins into a virtual billboard. You can also upload some of your own music and participants can jam out while they wait for the call to begin.

Registration Pages

One of our customers sets up luncheon events and uses registration pages as part of their invitation. These pages can be fully customized to add your logo, images, links to your site, speaker information, and more. Using a registration page lets you track attendance and know if you’re marketing your conferences to the right audiences by giving you a metric to measure your response rate.

All of these features can be a part of your next call with AccuConference. If you have questions about them, please give us a call 800.989.9239, or just give us a call to see if there’s anything more you can do with your conferences to get your participants involved. (Seriously, we like helping you.)

12 Conference Call Attendees That Cause Annoyance

Come on, admit it. Close your eyes and think about your last conference call and you'll immediately think of a number of people that turned the last conference into a disaster. There are a lot of different circumstances that call for conference call participation, but it never fails - there are always those one or two people who just make the experience slightly unbearable for the rest of the team.

The person who is always late.

Consistently, this co-worker will join the call five minutes late and demand to be caught up before the call can continue.

The last minute participant.

This person is different than the "late participant". This participant decides at the last minute they need to join the conference call about something that is out of their scope or they are unfamiliar with. Usually the first ten minutes of the conference are spent bringing this person up to speed.

The Mumbler.

This person doesn't speak up on the conference and therefore cannot be heard. It's either because their voice is very soft or because they are sitting too far away from their phone.

The "if I can just jump in here" co-worker.

This person always has something to add to the conversation, but it's often at the expense of other participants. They interrupt other attendees on a regular basis and instead of apologizing and remaining quiet until it's their turn to speak, they continue talking as if it doesn't matter.

The person who always laughs when his or her leather chair makes a hilariously suggestive noise.

Oh, hahaha, it's so funny.

The person who thinks "it's time for a conference call" somehow translates into "time to eat lunch!"

You can always hear this person smacking their lips as they chew or gurgling down their diet soda. If you know you have a conference call during your lunch time, make plans to eat at another time. Inevitably, this person always gets prompted to respond when they have just taken a bite. They will then proceed to speak around it.

The co-worker that works from home in a sea of barking puppies or crying babies.

We're not sure if they run a day care or pet adoption center in their spare time, but it just always seems like the sound of baby crying or a dog in the background is amplified on a conference call.

The scream talker.

They always think that their phone mic is turned down too low and feel like they need to scream to be heard. Usually, their voice causes echoes and feedback on the conferences.

The "hello? hello?" participant.

This participant always suspects they've been disconnected from the conference and must then interrupt the flow of conversation in order to assure they are still joined.

The Traveler.

Yes, sometimes we have to travel when it's time to take a conference call, and there is nothing wrong with that. It just always seems like the other participants end up hearing the boarding announcement or the commuter train departure schedule better than they hear the actual conference call.

The Multitasking Genius.

With their speaker phone on, they proceed to "listen" to the conference while answering emails or getting text messages. The sound notifying them of a new text notification or the gentle and somewhat soothing pounding of the keys on the keyboard play into the conference and give everyone a sense of "nothing is going to get done here".

The person who uses the hold button on their phone, instead of mute.

When you put a phone on hold in a conference one of three things will happen: silence fills the room and everyone makes the assumption the call has ended, periodic beeps will play into the conference, or some rocking easy listening music is about to interrupt and derail your entire conference call.

Who is the person on your conferences that you always feel like needs to be muted?

Customer Service Chat Tips

I sit behind a computer a lot, pretty much all day long. I check news sites, I write at work, I write at home, I send Tweets and update Facebook. Like many others, I am probably more likely to answer an email or a tweet than I am to answer a phone call. So when it comes to getting some help with a question or a need – I’m the person digging around on your website for a chat option, because I have too many things going on to try to wait 30 minutes for a rep to pick up the phone.

Not too long ago, I was on a chat with a company and felt like I was not being respected as the customer. I kept being told to hold on, there were long delays in getting any kind of response, and it seemed like the person wasn’t interested in dealing with my questions.

If you have read our post over on the AMEX Open Forum you know that we have very specific policies in regards to the way we handle customer service. When we decided to integrate a chat option, we kept many of the frustrations in mind and adopted five rules on how to responsibly use our customer chat feature.

  1. Take people chatting with customers off the phones. When we get notification of a chat, the person handling it immediately goes out of the phone queue. The chat customer deserves our full attention. We would never take two customer phone calls at the same time, so why try to juggle a chat and a phone call?
  2. No pop up window asking if someone wants to chat. We make our chat button visible and available on our website. We never “time” our customers and interrupt their browsing session in order to ask them if they need help. If they need us, they will let us know.
  3. We don’t ask our customers for feedback at the beginning of the chat. We feel like this can take advantage of the relationship we have with our clients. We believe that we shouldn’t ask our customers to “sell” our business for us, but if they want to talk to the manager or leave us great feedback, we will happily accept it.
  4. We let them know what’s going on. If a customer asks us something and we have to do some research on it, we always let them know to hold on for just a second and we’ll check everything out for them. If it takes us longer than we expect, we go back to the chat and update the customer. We would never leave a customer on the phone on hold for a long time and we don’t do that with our chat customers.
  5. Still no scripts. We have no phone scripts and we have no chat scripts. Just like over the phone, being able to operate without restrictions allows us to develop a friendly relationship with a client and better answer their questions. Copy and pasting is lame.

For the most part, customer chat seems to run smoothly, but recently, I’ve had some really annoying experiences and wondered why companies make things so difficult. Chatting is a great way for customers to contact us and we’ve had great success with it. Our customers are happy to have a lot of options if they want to get in touch with us. What are you doing to make chat customers feel as welcomed as those that call in on the phone?