SECTION 4 OF 9

Classifying Calls

Classifying incoming phone calls is a critical part of digital marketing success 

Strategies differ on how to track and classify incoming phone calls. Bottom line: Do it accurately. Those calls offer crucial information that affect your revenue.

Experts say it’s critical to know the exact number of leads that are coming in and whether or not those leads are converting to sales.

Depending on staffing and call volume, trade companies can designate one person to listen to every call or empower customer service representatives (CSRs) to classify calls as they come in. 

Empower CSRs to classify calls

“Each CSR should be classifying their own call after they take the call,” says Angie Snow, co-owner of Utah-based Western Heating + Air and a CSR coach with Go Time Success Group. “And then, the CSR manager or someone within your company should be spot checking these to see if they’re being classified correctly.”

If the calls are classified a certain way and you listen to just a couple of calls per CSR per week,  you’ll notice the ones that are consistently classifying calls inaccurately, Snow says.

“If you see it, that’s a coaching opportunity,” she says. “You bring in that CSR, you coach them, you talk to them about how to classify it, and you kind of keep an eye on any trends going that way.”

Snow suggests pulling a few extra calls on that CSR just to make sure they’re getting it.

ServiceTitan offers CSRs a way to classify each call, she adds.

“It’s super easy,” she says. “If the call is not booked, ServiceTitan gives you an opportunity to classify it. You need to say why it was not booked. There’s a dropdown list and you click on an option and you can add a quick little sentence there.”

Snow acknowledges there can be confusion on what is a lead and what is not a lead.

“There are valid reasons why calls are not a lead and shouldn’t affect your booking rate,” she says. “Sometimes there are calls like, ‘How much does this part cost?’ Well, that’s actually a lead. Even though you don’t sell parts, your goal as a CSR is to book that call. You need to be creative as a CSR to find a way to still book that call.”

Unbookable call examples

Identifying and excluding unbookable calls can give you a clear picture of how your CSRs are doing. Examples of unbookable calls include:

  • Customer called to cancel

  • Driver complaint

  • Follow-up call

  • Hang-up

  • Looking to purchase parts 

  • Looking for employment

  • Out of service area

  • Tech calling

  • Vendor/solicitor

  • Wrong number

Listening to every call

Chris Yano agrees that call classification is critical. He’s so adamant about it that he advocates having a qualified person listen to every single incoming call. 

“Let a human do it, because software that listens for keywords is not enough,” says Yano, CEO of RYNO Strategic Solutions and co-host of “To the Point” podcast. 

“If a trade business owner can’t listen to every call, assigning someone to do that is essential,” he says. “Purchase a call tracking number, then have a human being listen to each call. I don’t mean every other call or every third call. I’m talking every call. You have got to know what you’re spending your money on.”

Yano understands that listening to every call requires a lot of time. He says the payoff is worth it.  

RYNO, which employs more than 100 people, listens to every call for clients. The company categorizes each call with a tracking date, time, location of caller, CSR name, booking status, objections and a call transcript. 

“I’m not willing to sacrifice the cleanest data ever to save money,” Yano says. “It’s just not worth it for me.”

Call classification tips

Yano has specific ideas on best practices for a trade company to classify calls, including:

  • You should never, ever, guess on what your return is on marketing dollars.

If a company is paying an agency to bring in customers, it should expect information beyond the numbers. Statistics on SEO, pay per click and direct mail are good to have. But knowing what’s behind those stats is better. Using ServiceTitan makes that easier, Yano says. 

  • If you’re not tracking everything—even tiny details—you don’t KNOW.

Make sure you know what’s going on with your company. And if your agency isn’t helping you track data, it is doing you a disservice, Yano says, because decisions on how your business spends marketing money depend on lead tracking and reporting.

  • Not all leads are created equal. Don’t let the cost be equal, either.

Yano says he’s frustrated by the way some other marketing companies define leads. “I get sick of hearing, ‘My cost per lead is $28,’” he says. “Is it like a contact form that is submitted or a call that’s submitted, regardless of whether it was a new customer or a repeat customer? That’s not how we determine a lead.” If you don’t have time to separate new customers from repeat calls in the reporting, your agency should be doing it for you, he says. “It’s not that difficult to do,” Yano says. “The reason people don’t do it is bodies.”

  • You deserve call data that doesn’t leave you guessing. 

If you have 270 calls in a month, it’s important to know exactly what they were, he says. How many brand new, bookable service leads were brought in? How many calls were miscellaneous, like a caller looking to talk to an employee? Every call, Yano says, has to be classified. Referral leads should be taken out of the equation. Solicitations. Missed calls. Parts calls. Calls from a direct mail campaign. “We need to know what the purpose of every call was,” Yano says. “This makes it crystal clear what revenue came in from these leads, because everything you need is attached to that lead. There’s no guessing, and that’s the way it should be with all digital marketing. No exceptions.”

  • There are a number of ways to track leads. Use them all. 

Call and lead tracking can be done through dedicated call tracking phone numbers (ALWAYS use local), internet domain extensions, coupon codes, unique offers and more. But everything you do marketing-wise should utilize tracking. “A call tracking number is a call tracking number, and they’re super cheap,” Yano says. “It’s like going to the gym. Getting there is 60 percent of the battle, maybe even 90 percent of the battle. But you’ve got to have somebody actually listen to it and utilize it.”

  • If your CSRs fail, it’s your fault. 

Once you are holding your agency accountable for lead volume and listening to your phone calls, you have to make sure your CSRs are on point. “If your CSRs suck, it’s your fault,” Yano says. “Put something in place for it. Getting the phone numbers is half the battle. Listening to the phone calls is a big step in the right direction on figuring out what’s actually working. But the phone number is going to roll to your company, and somebody is answering that phone who has to sell that lead. They’ve got to get it done.”

The bottom line

Using tracking numbers is a first step. Listening to calls is essential. Holding an agency accountable is huge, Yano says. So is knowing your return on investment, owning the issues and making the changes that need to be made. 

But demand transparency, and data, on every lead, so you can accurately calculate the cost. 

“You’ve got to know,” Yano says. “You have to know 100 percent where you stand.” 

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