Untargeted outbound calling as a tool for generating new business and growing existing business has dramatically declined in popularity as customers begin to see them as intrusive and irrelevant. Often there’s no value to the recipient of the call.
But the way that customers communicate their preferences about brands and products has changed. As social networking has demonstrated, it is possible to learn about customer preferences using data that they have openly shared. Customers can be targeted with information and propositions in a way that is helpful.
Webhelp believe that we should be able to predict key indicators related to customer preferences and behaviours, and by applying an intelligent use of analytics to the humble outbound call, customer acquisition and retention becomes far more successful.
This requires a rigorous scientific approach so prospective customers are called only if they are likely to be receptive to the offer. However, with the right data and analysis techniques it should usually be possible to predict not only who is the most likely to buy today, but also who might buy the most in future.
By taking a data-led approach to profiling customers it should be possible to predict key indicators such as the potential value from each customer, the type of offer they will buy and the best time they will be receptive – this creates the possibility for a keen focus on offering customers a product they will find useful, rather than being a source of irritation.
Offering an interesting proposition at a convenient time of day is in complete contrast to the traditional outbound call strategy where the sheer volume of calls is the only variable that can affect sales success.
But approaching customers with an interesting offer at a convenient time of day does not just increase sales; it should improve the customer experience and their attitude to the brand. If a brand can use their knowledge of a customer to call and offer a product or service that is perceived as useful then this type of engagement reflects positively on the brand. The company is seen as helpful, rather than just attempting to sell more products, which is again quite a contrast to the typical response customers feel after receiving an outbound call.
To make this strategy work will require a sales intelligence centre that crunches data on customer demographics, personal purchasing history, preferred contact times, preferred channels, and the activity of competitors. Once this data is collected together it could be used to build predictive scenarios where products are mapped to customers that should be receptive. Modelling this data not only allows existing customers to be approached, but prospective customers similar to existing ones can also be approached based on the model – which is always improving as more data is added. The intelligence of the system gets increasingly able to predict customer preferences with experience.
But making an intelligent outbound calling strategy work will not just require analysts crunching numbers.
The agents making the calls need to work in an entirely different way to those on a traditional outbound campaign. Agents working on outbound campaigns usually face a relentless task where they are trying to interest a long list of customers in products the customer has not asked about. The customer is almost always not interested and it is therefore difficult for agents to remain motivated.
Hours of cold connections quickly lead to boredom for the agents faced with hours of rejection. A new approach should give agents a great working environment and all the information they need about each client – profiling data, individual offers that might work, competitors the customer is using, and proposed options for cross selling. The agent hunting for new business has every piece of information about what the customer likes making the engagement more interesting and with a far higher potential for success. Combine this with the opportunities that could be given to agents – in their location and how they engage – and suddenly outbound calls can be exciting and full of sales potential for the team making the calls.
The true value of outbound calls to both existing and prospective customers can be seen when most customers do not see the calls as a part of the sales process. Instead, customers appreciate a brand that engages them with relevant information and helpful offers at convenient times.
This holistic approach to outbound calls is an entirely new way of managing the process. Creating a new working environment for the agents and offering them a comprehensive package of information support, so they know client preferences before ever making a call and dramatically increasing the chances for sales success.
At Webhelp, we believe that this amounts to nothing less than a complete transformation of the outbound calling market.
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