Let’s face it-outbound dialing just doesn’t have a very glamorous image. When you think about outbound, you don’t conjure up a picture of happy, smiling agents filling orders for home shopping networks or travel specialists setting up Condé Nast dream vacations. Truth be told, most consumers still view outbound dialing as a nuisance, characterized by calls to collect overdue bills, reminders to pick up prescriptions or—heaven forbid—a live telemarketing call at the hallowed dinner hour. At the same time, let’s also be honest: the outbound teleservices and collections industry is BIG business and it generates billions in revenues across a myriad of industry verticals.
Myth #1: “Outbound dialing is pretty much a stand-alone function in business these days.”
Myth # 2: "Outbound calling fails to attract high-quality agents.”
The key is to invest in meaningful on-going training, concise scripting and knowledge systems that support the delivery of an excellent customer experience. Recruiting of agents is one thing; retaining them is a completely different ballgame.
Myth #3: “DNC legislation has crippled telemarketing and, as a result, the outbound dialing market isn’t growing much.”
Myth 4: “Proactive customer care is just a buzzword and doesn’t deliver superior customer service.”
To be effective, proactive care must be driven by a broad business vision to create and maintain a customer-centric organization - period. It is simply a tactic for a operationalizing a wide-ranging business strategy. For example, a floral company can proactively place follow-up calls to ensure that a bouquet was delivered with fresh flowers, on time and to the right location. Before the end of the call, an agent can unobtrusively attempt to sell future deliveries for birthdays, graduations and holidays. Another classic case might involve an airline proactively calling customers about flight delays and arranging new travel options. A utility company can contact its largest (and best paying) customers to advise of planned power outages. Some companies make an outbound call to take the opportunity to offer an incentive or discount to a customer in exchange for responses to a short marketing survey. Retail catalogue companies routinely offer proactive customer care to provide order status. Proactive calling and reaching out to customers, if done right, can yield substantially better C-sat.
Myth #5: “Hosted outbound solutions aren’t yet fully developed, nor do they have the security requirements in-place.”
Myth #6: “Outbound dialing is really out of sync with the multimedia demands of today’s savvy consumers.”
Lastly, let’s not forget another important dimension of outbound calling, one which receives little publicity: the field of agent-free outbound notifications and messaging for unplanned events. There are several providers in this spacewith proven and reliable notification applications for the delivery of time-sensitive and proactive notifications. Providers also offer a hosted notification service, which automates traditional manual processes and eliminates the need for on-premise customer equipment and network bandwidth.
These time-sensitive notifications can cover a wide range of mutlimedia communication needs including those for:
So while outbound calling and messaging may not appear to be exciting or sensational, it has become an essential element for successful contact centers, and a key part of the strategic roadmap to improved customer satisfaction. I, like many other industry analysts, believe that outbound dialing remains alive and well. No more misinformation, half-truths, or myths for me. Market forces are driving intelligent customer outreach and, with it, customers who feel valued.
Isn’t that what we all want out of the ‘customer experience’ anyway?
About Michael DeSalles:
Mr. DeSalles is widely recognized as experienced in the contact center marketplace, with his primary knowledge being in call center operations and infrastructure. Other areas of coverage include:·Call routing and off shore outsourcing·Customer service delivery and outbound dialing·Performance management and agent optimization. Michael is responsible for tracking products, technologies, and strategies in the contact center solutions market. His clients include the range of contact center vendors, and end-user organizations across a broad set of industry verticals.
About Frost & Sullivan:
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today's market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organization prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2007
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