Looking for some tips on how to improve your outbound calling? Jonty Pearce gives some tips that can help to make outbound calling more productive
1. Establish the prime time to call this individual
Work out from your calling statistics when is the best time to call that individual.
For example, retired people are often home during the day. Working people tend to be home during the evening.
One contact centre found that their connect rates were better from 10.30am to 12pm and then from 3pm through to 8pm.
Most contact centres tend to dial people from a pre-loaded list, without necessarily looking at some of the demographics.
One contact centre manager said, “We applied a propensity model based on 8 months’ outbound sales data looking at best hour to call by postcode area. We used daytime and evening filters based on the propensity model. We haven’t seen much of an uplift in hit rate, can you provide any suggestions here?”
I think that the problem is that the postcode is a very crude measure of propensity. For example, I live in a postcode where a lot of my neighbours are retired. This would suggest that an outbound call to me would be best during the day – but this is when I am not at home and am in the office.
I would suggest that a combination of looking at age, sex, phone numbers or previous contact histories on the outbound lists would be more appropriate.
It sounds obvious, but the best time to call someone is at a time you have agreed with them in advance. If you give someone a sales quote, agree a time when you can call them back to discuss it.
2. Establish if it is a convenient time to speak
Outbound calling can have a very low conversion rate, and often elicits negative reactions. But sometimes people do not want to talk to you, purely because the time is wrong. For example, if you phoned up someone while they were watching Eastenders, they probably would not want to talk to you. But they might be receptive to your call at other times of the day.
Sometimes it seems that our main use of outbound calling is to annoy people. One thing I don’t hear enough of in contact centres is “Is now a convenient time to speak with you?”
But this technique would not suit everybody. One outbound manager said to me that “this could possibly be seen as an opportunity for the outbound agent to ‘pass the buck’ on workload by persuading the customer to ask for a later call”.
3. Leave a message on answer machines
If the customer calls back you can increase sales conversions by a factor of 3.
Hitting an answer machine isn’t necessarily a negative thing. I was with an outsourcer recently and what they did was leave a message on the answer machine saying “could you give me a call back”.
What they found was that the customer will then call you back at a time which is more convenient for them. They found that call-backs from a message left on an answer machine had a three times higher conversion rate than for a straight outbound call.
Answer machines aren’t necessarily bad.