FOTS or “Feet On The Street” represents one of the most interactive experiences with a customer.
How can you generate the best customer and business experience possible with this interaction?
With a lot of options and technology solutions available to businesses where do you start?
This article examines some of the primary considerations of supporting FOTS teams.
How you can integrate your FOTS ideas with the rest of your business.
- What is FOTS
- Where FOTS helps
- How a proper FOTS solution helps
- Advanced concepts for FOTS
- Wrap Up
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What is FOTS?
Feet on the Street (FOTS) are troops on the ground that represent your business in person to person interactions.
FOTS are a touch point for your business.
FOTS teams are usually made up of :
- firstly your own dedicated in house teams
- secondly out-sourced to another company
- or a blend of the above.
The teams can perform all the work done in a call centre but have all the advantages and disadvantages of face to face meetings.
They literally can apply the personal touch yet they also have to represent every department of your business at the same time.
This “nowhere to hide” job requires determination and commitment to the task. It’s not for everyone.
For people who enjoy meeting people and face to face interaction, it is an engaging and rewarding role.
For others it’s an opportunity to encourage them to follow a different path in life.
Your FOTS team can deliver a number of tasks for your business.
Where FOTS helps
The traditional door to door sales people have the best chance of direct interaction with customers and potential customers.
Business to Business (B2B) quality assurance check displays and promotions are being delivered as required or contracted.
Business to Consumer (B2C) surveys focus on the legal requirements of delivery and reducing customer care issues.
- Are you happy with the service you received?
- Did we deliver on our promises?
Surveys and questionnaires which can sometimes be a lead into a sales pitch for you.
Primary research done by university students very much can depend on meeting people to get direct answers.
A very difficult and often emotional challenge for not only the customers but the teams calling to the door.
This role is challenging.
FOTS members need strong personalities and an understanding of what they’re getting into.
As this is such a contentious topic which instills worry in people it has featured heavily in comedy, especially in Ireland.
The Republic of Telly’s characters Bridget and Eamon have to deal with a knock on the door from the TV licence inspector.
The advertising from the Department of Communications relating to the tv licence inspector now references the technical abilities of the inspectors to know if you have a licence or not even before they knock on your door.
How a proper FOTS solution helps
Modern technology reports your sales to all parts of the business in real time.
Getting this information back to contact centers for follow up processes or directly to operations to begin processing orders and bookings.
This real time turn around provides your business not only wow factor for your customers but helps to understand sales in real-time.
Third Party Verification (TPV) teams and after sales customer care teams should be instantly contactable.
Queuing up after-sales work needs to immediate. If you have processes involving spreadsheets or emails mistakes often happen.
People get more and more annoyed with direct marketing tactics.
Real time information updates need to be available to agents in the field.
Embarrassing internal breaks in communication such as “I was chatting to customer care only 30 minutes ago” traditionally was unavoidable.
Before the door bell is pressed your sales agent has all the vital information they need to deliver a wow experience.
Using mapping and geo-location information it’s possible to tell who in a street is:
- Former customer
- Potential customer
- A “do not disturb”
Comreg (Commission for Communications Regulation) monitor Irish Law and business communications.
They enforce the law so that your business communicates responsibly and doesn’t harangue people who do not want to be contacted.
When you capture information how do you get this valuable information different teams within your business?
Spending time to ask questions and ensuring detailed capture can lead to far smarter spending on your internal sales and marketing budgets to attract customers.
Again geo-location information along with data capture can help to visualise data in a different way to help your strategy teams develop and analyse plans.
Futhermore by linking website and social media data, straight through to FOTS teams in the field, response to sales requests can be far more instant.
Similarly converting interest to sale is something all sales people know is vital to act quickly upon.
Knowing about the customer, being proactive and provided excellent service and support will lead to further sales.
Is your business proactive or reactive?
An existing customer is far less difficult of a sale than a new customer if the customer has a good experience.
Businesses generally are reactive not proactive.
Care teams need to up-sell and cross sell to people you are actually allowed to talk to.
Your marketing plans will attempt to add “rich data” to your customer profiles.
Customer Care programs can rapidly add information to your customer profiles.
Businesses miss information not due to operational mistakes but rather bad planning.
Furthermore it’s becoming harder and harder to reach potential new audiences due to stricter and stricter marketing laws
Keeping customers through groups like FOTS quite simply is an approach that you can easily utilise.
Are you happy with your vehicle? When was the last time your car care team checked in with you?
Advanced concepts for FOTS
In-house or out-sourced
Out-sourcing is often wrongly considered as expensive. When done properly can be more cost effective than in-house change.
As Nick Wheeler, former CEO of Sitel Ireland explained very succinctly,
“When you outsource, that team has nothing to do all day but focus on that project. All the stats, feedback and focus is exactly where it needs to be.”
Out-source companies who add valuable information and insight is what the primary differentiation in today’s crowded marketplace is.
Most importantly what insights can these experts add to the project they’ve been given?
Consequently companies like FMI or CPM Ireland provide feedback and utilise real-time information tools to add exceptional value to the process.
Person-centric or Single View solutions
A person-centric view of the customer should be available to sales and customer care teams.
- All the points of contact with the customer from all departments
- Documents relevant to the customer
- Decisions made by the customer especially in relation to the communications preferences.
In businesses sales tools, customer care tools and operations tools are frequently split across different platforms.
A single view that is :
- firstly consistent in data across different departments
- next supports the ability to have different layouts
- furthermore tailored for different teams
is the modern way to provide proper service to a customer.
Above all software tools do not have to be developed from scratch.
Solutions such as bxp software addresses this need and done so for over a decade.
The All n One contact centre business needed a tool that could do everything in this article. bxp software delivered everything the contact centre needed at that time. We began to licence the solution to others who need what we did.
Making the most of the moment
Certainly in sales and marketing you are looking for the opportunity to chat.
If a FOTS team member is in front of a customer or a potential customer there is opportunity for something to happen. Good and bad.
Most importantly even if the sale doesn’t work out, the marketing potential of making a customer aware of your products or services shouldn’t be overlooked.
Regardless of the type of FOTS activity, how are your in the field team armed with information and resources in terms of sales and marketing materials?
- reference materials,
- “leave with the customer” marketing materials,
- knowing who to ask and when
is part of this important marketing touch point.
Every business needs someone to prod the various operations of the business to see are they working as they should.
More often than not you want your business to report… yep fine, same as it was yesterday.
Any manager will tell you it’s better to know a problem exists before a customer tells you it exists.
How you get information back from FOTS teams comes in three forms
- Firstly the standard checks. e.g. did we comply with our data protection rules. Requires little thinking.
- Secondly the new checks. When a FOTS member sees a check that needs doing or the customer raises an opportunity to improve a process (i.e. stop anyone else screaming you messed up).
- Finally the new ideas. When a FOTS or customer suggest a way of enhancing the business or suggesting a new product or service.
Getting a new idea via this approach is a lot cheaper than market research.
Consequently the more your tools provide instant information, the more time you can spend reading and working on items 2 and 3 to improve your process and your business.
Market research and surveys generate information for your business. Departments can use this information in different ways.
Supporting different departments through a single coordinated exercise saves time and cost for the business as a whole.
You can use your survey to confirm your ideas.
Using surveys as a quality control check is a useful mechanism but doesn’t fully capture the benefit of the interaction with the customer.
You can add in open ended questions drastically changing the information value presented by the survey.
- Yes / No is a closed question
- True / False is a closed question
- Pick a number between 1 and 5 is a closed question
Your data analytics teams can turn closed questions easily into statistics.
However an open ended question might start with “Describe in your own words….”
Consequently open ended require your team to analyse them.
A FOTS team that is enthusiastic and happy will influence how a survey is filled out.
As a result ongoing team motivation using techniques such as gamification is important.
So FOTS can be an integral part of your marketing mix.
FOTS teams are often the most powerful interaction point with new customers as literally they out hunting for customers.
The personal interaction between a FOTS member and a member of the public is a powerful experience, support it.
Technology can improve the experience for everyone, how do you leave a mark with your customers?