A story about Contact Center Software

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Different types of outbound

What types of outbound are you handling in your contact center. What do you mean you don't know that there were different types of outbound? Of course there are. And I'm not talking technically. I'm talking business-wise.
You have
  • debt collections
  • telemarketing - cold calls
  • telemarketing - warm calls
  • customer care calls
  • advisory calling
  • inbound / outbound blending
  • web callbacks
  • voice callbacks
And there are some differences in the way you need to handle these types of outbound calls. Let's look at them one by one.
Debt collections
These calls mostly need a good preparations. You won't often see a predictive dialer here. Most of the time, your agents will need to study the data before the client can be called. You will need agents with a good training, otherwise your return on investment (i.e. how much debt you recover) will be low.
Telemarketing - cold calls
This is the traditional outbound usage. Mostly used by banks, insurance companies, utilities, but all types of businesses can use it. More and more, these type of calls are offshored, however, customers tend to to lose interest when they hear that the call comes from elsewhere. When the product you are selling is cheap and you are calling a lot of customers you can perhaps run the risk of offshoring the operation. However when your product is valuable, don't go over the border. Rather go for quality then for cheap quantity. Most probably you will use predictive dialing here - the agent does not really need to know too much of the customer - he will need to sell his or her thing.
Telemarketing - warm calls
Here, also most businesses could use warm calls. Mostly these are calls to existing customers - because selling to existing customers is supposed to be easier than getting new customers. Difficult legislation against cold calling forces most businesses to focus on their existing customer base, who will generally have less problems being called. These type of services have been growing steadily in contact centers in the last couple of years. You can use predictive here, depending on how complicated the product or service is. When it is rather complex, the agent might benefit from the call setup time to study the client data.
Customer care calls
Customer care calls are the ones that don't bring in money directly. These are the type of 'soft calls'. You ask your customers whether they are happy, how your services could be improved, et cetera. These type of calls will give you an idea of the general thoughts of the customer, and you will be able to translate them in to the strategy for the next product or service. It also can be used to turn the calls into sales calls, but don't expect too much from that - think more about increasing customer loyalty.
Advisory calling
These types of outbound calls would be made typically by airlines, public services etc. - to let the client know that something has changed. This gives a value-added service to your client thereby improving their perception of the organisation. You might be able to do some cross-selling or up-selling, but don't count on it (and don't push for it). If the announcements are simple you could use predictive dialing here; otherwise go for power dialing.
In order to optimize the use of your agents' time you can use the idle time of an inbound campaign to place some outbound calls. You can either do that within the same campaign (if this is appropriate), or use another campaign for that. However, this is not for all agents. Switching between inbound and outbound mostly means switching between sales and service, so some agents might do better than others. Normally you would see power outbound with inbound. With some systems you can do predictive outbound. This might save some time, especially when you use it together with a good call classifier.
Web callbacks
Everyone who does business on the web (and who doesn't do business on the web at the moment) could use web callbacks. When a client clicks on a button, a call is placed in the outbound calling queue. As the client has initiated this contact via the web, it is not so intrusive as other types of outbound. It can be thought more of as a 'reverse' inbound call, actually, and does well fit in the blending described above. I would recommend using power dial, so that an agent is reserved for the contact.
Voice callbacks
A voice callback could happen in all cases above - the client wants to talk to you, only not at the time you contact them. Together you decide on a new time and you call the client back at that time. Good! You probably don't want to use predictive dialing and you want to make sure that the right agent calls the client.

As you can see, there is no simple definition of outbound, there are a lot of different types, and possibly even more than I have mentioned above. You can imagine outbound projects that are a mix of two items that I described. But some points in outbound are in common:
  • Outbound is intrusive
  • Thus, customers are potentially more defensive - this needs to be overcome by giving the agent all possible tools and means to have the right information at his fingertips. You might try to do a tight integration with a CRM application or extract valuable business information from databases based on customer intelligence.
  • Outbound work is hard for the agents. Noone likes to hear 'no' most of the time, and agents are no exception to that rule. If you add to that the predictive dialer, you should be sensitive to reduce the agent stress by a good schedule, call blending, training and good supervision and communication.
  • When you have the technology to optimize the agent don't try to use outbound calling as an exercise in maximizing call volumes. What you will do at that time is having good call volumes, wearing out the agents and end up with a much bigger problem afterwards. In addition to that, a mistuned predictive dialer can affect your brand by connecting your clients to exhausted agents.
  • Don't offshore without thinking. The same high standards for agent training and support are needed, even when you offshore your business; so do it sensibly
  • A lot of legislation has passed. Be aware of it, use the national opt-out lists and treat your clients as you want to be treated.
  • The use of dialing technology can have an impact on agent retention
As you see, doing an outbound campaign is a bit more difficult than 'put in a box and dial'. There are a lot of thinks to think about. Do you want to talk about it with someone who knows all about it? Talk to us. We can help you setting up an outbound dialer in less than a week.


Blogger Siddhu said...

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7:33 AM


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