Outbound calls are those made by a contact centre to a third party, usually a customer or partner organisation. These might be prearranged service calls, cold calls, or a request for information from another business.
In most sales, marketing, and research contexts, calls are made automatically via a predictive dialler which then assigns agents to each answered call.
Staffing for outbound calls
Because outbound calls tend to have different objectives to inbound calls, contact centres often have two totally separate teams to handle them. They may also employ blended agents who are available to handle both inbound and outbound as required.
Outbound agents are more likely to be involved in sales, marketing, and debt collection, and as such may need additional training in skills such as objection handling. Otherwise, inbound and outbound agents use approximately the same skill set.
Outbound calls are also measured against a different set of metrics. Whereas inbound calls focus mainly on the speed and quality of resolution, outbound call metrics measure specific outcomes.
‘Cost per call’ and ‘total revenue’ both measure the financial implications of placing calls. ‘Total calls’ are usually measured, as well as ‘right party contact’, which measures how often agents are able to get through to their target customer.
Because the contact centre has a greater degree of control over an outbound agent’s workload, staffing is usually more straightforward than for inbound. Scheduling is commonly based on the rates at which outbound calls are answered at different times, and when answered calls are likely to be successful.
For example, consumers tend to be less receptive at the very beginning and the very end of the working week. Businesses planning outbound call drives should get to know their customer profile well in order to predict patterns of success.
Legal requirements of outbound calls
Understanding the legal requirements of outbound calling is crucial for contact centres.
The majority of outbound calls are made through a predictive dialler which calls groups of customers and randomly assigns agents to them. This is an efficient process for the contact centre but can lead to silent or abandoned calls, especially when combined with Answer Machine Detection.
This problem has led to new rules in the UK and other countries limiting the number of calls that can be placed without an agent available to answer. UK rules also require callers to show a Calling Line Identification rather than placing calls with a withheld number.
Recipients have the right to opt out of receiving sales and marketing calls by adding their names to lists such as the UK’s Telephone Preference Service or the Do Not Call list in the USA.
Check out our Outbound Dialling Guide.