Outbound Dialler Issues
The traditional outbound call was simply about selling more products to new and existing customers. However, legislation and customer pressure is having an impact on cold calling, and an increasing proportion of outbound calling is now to existing customers, delivering customer care or proactively informing them about events and circumstances which affect them.
Outbound calling is fundamentally different from inbound, and – facing significant cultural and legislative issues – must be managed sensitively:
Privacy and intrusion
The nature of outbound is intrusive and business driven (except in cases of call-back requests). This means that customers are more likely to be defensive and wary of the purpose of the call. Trust needs to be built very quickly in order to overcome this negative start point: having the right information about the customer to hand will improve the experience for both agent and customer.
Outbound work can be very hard on agents
Few people actively welcome most outbound calls, and persistent refusal, lack of interest and rudeness can be very wearing for agents, especially if productivity-enhancing technology such as diallers is being used. Management should consider ways of alleviating agent stress, through sensible scheduling and call blending, judicious use of technology, focused training and improving working environments, amongst other ways. Especially where the technology exists to do so, it can be tempting to treat outbound calling campaigns as an exercise in maximising call volumes and (theoretically) revenues. However, this can result in brand damage and high staff attrition rates through over-pressured and exhausted agents delivering poorer quality interactions.
Low-value outbound sales campaigns
There has been a tendency to use offshore contact centres for low-value outbound sales campaigns which would otherwise be unprofitable to run. However, the same high standards of training and support are needed by offshore agents to do their job properly: too many businesses simply put the agents on a dialler with an inflexible script in front of them and then wonder why their customers and prospects become negative towards their brand (for example, 73% of the UK public who considered offshore customer contact to be inferior cited inflexible scripts as a key issue) 
Tough legislation has emerged which is reducing the amount of cold calling which businesses can do. Cold calling is illegal in Germany, and the Do-Not-Call register in the US and the Telephone Preference Scheme in the UK allow customers (and now businesses in the UK) to opt out of receiving any sales calls at all. Over 10m consumer telephone numbers in the UK are registered with TPS.
1. ContactBabel, “Finding the Balance: The Effects of Offshore Customer Contact on Profit and Brand”, May 2004
Steve Morel at Contact Babel