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Contact Centre: Enhance the customer and agent experience with outbound calls.

Contact Centre: Enhance the customer and agent experience with outbound calls.
Guillaume Schwoerer
Guillaume Schwoerer Lead Product Manager at Odigo

There is nothing like being proactive to help brands grow and strengthen the relationship with their customers. Properly leveraged, outbound calls can be a fantastic tool helping contact centres to be proactive. However, there are several types of outbound calls and not all of them serve the same purpose. In this blog, we will explain how to take advantage of outbound calls to enhance the customer experience.

February 13, 2020

Outbound calls tend to suffer from a negative reputation, in part because of the companies’ contact centres abusing them. However, when used intelligently and in compliance with the legal framework, outbound calls can do wonders for brands who want to be proactive.

An outbound call is a call made on the brand’s initiative from a contact centre, usually with the intention of building or achieving customer loyalty. It differs from an inbound call, which is initiated by the customer or prospect.

This fundamental difference from inbound calling means outbound calling faces both cultural stigmas and legal issues. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that the misuse of outbound calls has had a negative impact on:

  • The experience of the customer, who, annoyed by the intrusive nature of this type of call, often finds themselves on the defensive and distrustful of the purpose of the call.
  • The experience of the employee, who, often stressed by repeated customer refusals, can end up losing interest in their work, becoming disengaged or even falling into absenteeism.
  • Brand awareness, which, in wanting to maximise the number of calls, tends to focus on lower-quality interactions (use of rigid scripts and/or the tendency to turn to offshore contact centres to reduce costs).

Outbound calls can be divided into three main categories, also referred to as modes of communication:

  • Preview diallers,
  • Progressive diallers,
  • Predictive diallers.

Before using outbound calls in your contact centre, you need to know where you want to draw the line between agent productivity and customer experience.

Preview diallers

Preview diallers are the most professional dialling mode of calling. It consists of automatically calling an agent who, when he picks up the phone, is presented with information about the person about to be called (the preparation time given to the agent varies). The customer is then called and, if they pick up, is immediately put in touch with the agent.

This solution ensures an excellent customer experience at the expense of contact centre productivity, as agents spend time preparing for conversations that may never take place because the customer doesn’t always answer the phone.

Progressive diallers

Progressive diallers are the dialling mode that automatically reaches an agent who is not given any preparation time. The client is called as soon as the agent picks up the phone.

This solution has an impact on agent experience because the agent has less time to prepare – even if they have some time before the client picks up. On the other hand, immediately having someone on the phone preserves the customer experience, even if the agent doesn’t immediately have answers to all the questions a customer may have.

Predictive diallers

Predictive diallers are the most productive, but least friendly in terms of CX, form of dialling mode. The engine, via a defined algorithm, anticipates and calls customers before agents are actually available. This is the dialling mode that is most often outsourced.

In terms of productivity, this dialling mode is excellent for contact centres because the agents are always busy. Unfortunately, this productivity is clearly to the detriment of the experience. It is annoying for the customer, because they may receive calls and the agents aren’t actually available. This highly regulated dialling system is often used for activities such as telemarketing or debt collection.

Outbound calls: use the right dialling modes to enhance the customer experience

What if outbound calls could enhance the customer experience by emphasising quality over quantity?

While no single communication channel can ensure customers pick up more calls, there are effective ways to overcome the negative aspects of outbound calls, and even ensure exceptional customer experience and brand awareness. To achieve this, outbound calls should be limited to certain use cases, specific to certain customer journeys, allowing brands to anticipate customers’ needs and therefore exceed their expectations.

Here are the main use cases when it comes to outbound calls:

In order to ensure proactivity with your customers while enhancing customer and agent experiences, your contact centre’s outbound call campaigns should rely on features such as:

  • Targeting rules that allow you to define who to call and when, ensuring that agents deliver the right speech, based on known contact information.
  • Call-backs that can be requested by either customers or by agents, during an inbound or outbound call, allowing customers to be called back in a time slot they have chosen.
  • Advanced call-back cycles that provide the ability to schedule a call-back attempt for a contact when the system fails to reach them the first time. This allows you to create an automatic call-back strategy according to the different parameters of the calls (number of attempts, date and time of the attempt, type of non-response, etc.).
  • Dedicated agent management which makes it possible to assign a set of contacts to a specific agent, guaranteeing a personal relationship between the customer and the brand.

By using outbound calls intelligently, you can enhance your customers’ experience, getting in touch with them at the right time, with the right message, and the right people.

Outbound calls: The experience of the contact centre agent is not to be forgotten.

As mentioned in a previous blog, symmetry of attention is a key concept in maximising customer and employee satisfaction. When it comes to outbound calls, it becomes fundamental.

Thanks to this ideology, it is possible to imagine a world where your agents will not only make a call but will also effectively anticipate your customers’ expectations. How can you do this? By providing agents with the right information at the right time, to simplify their work and allow them to concentrate on value-added tasks.

By using less intrusive dialling methods, such as preview or progressive diallers, it is possible to ensure agents are able to have real conversations with clients. This is particularly important for complex calls where agents need to be fully aware of the client context.

It is also important to ensure all relevant information for managing the customer interaction is incorporated into the agent console: information about the current campaign, multi-channel history of customer activity, CRM information on the customer’s profile, etc.

Outbound calls? Yes, but in contact centres that abide by the rules!

In the majority of European countries, along with America, state regulations have been put in place to protect consumer rights. Logically, these are becoming stricter, almost daily it seems, in order to limit the use of certain kinds of outbound calls, sometimes seen as spam by the customer.

Examples of these are the Ofcom regulations in the UK, which has defined a quality threshold to be respected for dialling methods, or the FCC regulations in the US, that clearly define the standards outbound calls must adhere to or face fines.

In a world where regulations can change at any time, it is important to have total control over one’s contact centre solution. Every aspect of the centre and how it works needs to be easily accessible and configurable through a graphical interface, no matter how complex it is.

Do you want to give your agents a tool that brings simplicity and autonomy to campaign creation while having a targeting tool allowing to, for example, call or call back your customers at the right time?

Discover Odigo’s Contact Centre as a Service solution.

Guillaume Schwoerer
Lead Product Manager at Odigo

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