Outbound call centers: What solution works for your business?
Call centers create important connections between customers and businesses. Even with other ways to communicate (channels like email, SMS, live chat, and social media messaging), people looking to inquire or seek assistance think of the call center as a cornerstone of user experience.
That’s exactly how it works for inbound call centers because their primary function is customer service (hence, these are what most of us think of when we hear the term “call center”).
Outbound call centers, on the other hand, tend to be more focused on sales. Agents make outbound calls for the company in order to connect with customers. Let’s explore further.
What are the different types of call centers?
There are two main types of call center. Depending on your business and the type of calls you handle, you may need an inbound or outbound call center. You could be handling both inbound and outbound calls, in which case, you got a blended call center.
What is an outbound and an inbound call center?
An inbound call center receives customer calls while an outbound call center initiates customer calls. As mentioned above, the former tends to be more customer support-based than the latter (which is typically involved in sales or collections).
What is an outbound call?
An outbound call is a call that someone makes to reach another person or group of persons. Sometimes it’s also referred to as an outgoing call.
What is “outbound” in a call center?
In a call center, outbound refers to the type of calls the agents make, which is outgoing. That would be calls placed by your sales team to prospects or existing customers. Outbound calls can be used to:
- Make sales calls
- Make collections calls
- Follow up on leads
- Promote new offers
- Perform market research
In the context of a call center, outbound telemarketing is a more accurate term than “outbound call.” An outbound call can refer to a simple call you’d make to a friend, and that’s not what call centers do
Outbound telemarketing is not as easy as calling someone and asking if they want to buy something. There’s a process, and it’s filled with nuance. Think about how hard it is for people in a physical store to make a sale. Now imagine trying to sell to a complete stranger who can only hear your voice (a.k.a. cold calling).
This is why it’s important for you to know who to call and what they want. Note, however, that some outbound calls don’t initially push for a sale. At the outset, agents may offer assistance or provide some product insight before making their primary purpose known. It’s all about proper call handling.
Why is outbound calling important?
Outbound calling is important because it facilitates a sale. A good outbound calling strategy is the key to winning customers over the phone.
How do you handle outbound calls?
Outbound calling requires careful planning. You want to make sure your agents are fully prepared to execute your strategy. Thankfully, there are tools like outbound dialers to help agents and streamline the call handling process (more on this later).
Let this be your quick guide to successfully handling outbound calls.
- Thou shalt not neglect pre-call prep
Be sure your agents are fully aware of your campaign goals. Are you out to introduce a new product? Gathering contact information? Surveying the market? Who’s your market to begin with? You need to answer these questions when defining your outbound calling campaign.
- Engage the potential customers
It’s crucial that you pique the interest of a potential customer from the get-go. Otherwise, they’d hang up before you even mention anything about your product or service. Think about it: If they hang up, they really have nothing to lose.
An outbound call center solution with CRM integration should give your agents a wealth of information about prospects before they even make the welcome call. With some intel, they’ll be able to say the right words and make customers feel valued.
- Time is of the essence—you know it
If you think time is valuable, then you can bet your customers feel the same way. You want to talk to new leads and not waste away outgoing calls on anything that won’t help you increase sales. It would be polite to ask your prospect how much time they have before launching into your sales and marketing pitch. And when you do, be straightforward.
- Be clear and make your cold calls work!
Train and coach your outbound call center agents well so they’re able to speak clearly and naturally. When they’re nervous, potential customers will notice and get turned off. The ability to speak with confidence comes with practice and sufficient knowledge of your consumer products or services.
Even if your agents have a script, knowledge and confidence will make them sound more human and less of a tool.
You want to be particularly clear when discussing something like pricing, which may become a source of confusion. Keep in mind that when people are presented with technical terms or multiple options, they can get overwhelmed and may struggle to make a choice.
In that case, it would be good to have agents who can simplify things so customers can digest them more easily.
- Never bad-mouth your competition
Trashing your competitors, especially during an outbound call, is plain unprofessional. You don’t want to lose potential customers’ trust by promoting your health care or travel and hospitality business at the expense of another.
One more thing: Ever heard of spontaneous trait transference? It’s a psychological phenomenon in which people see in you the very traits you say of others. So instead of talking about how bad another real estate firm’s services are, focus on what makes your services great.
- Trust your outbound call center technology
A successful outbound sales call center uses the right technology. Yes, it all starts with having an efficient team of agents equipped with the ideal outbound call center solution (more on this in the FAQ section below).
RingCentral Engage Voice, for example, offers a variety of auto dialers to connect customers and businesses efficiently. Here are the three types of outbound dialers:
- Preview dialer - As soon as an agent becomes available for a call, they receive detailed customer information to review before the software dials a number. With access to such data, they can better engage and build a personal connection with customers. Preview dialers are best for high-value interactions like debt collection.
- Progressive dialer - As soon as an agent becomes available for a call, they receive detailed customer information, but the software dials a number immediately. How does it arrive at this number?
The dialer runs through the company’s contact list until it reaches a potential customer who’s available to talk. It disregards numbers that are busy, disconnected, or connects to an answering machine.
With a progressive dialer, you get optimized agent talk time, making it ideal for sales campaigns, particularly with upselling and renewals.
- Predictive dialer - Unlike a progressive dialer, which dials a number the moment an agent becomes available, a predictive dialer dials a number even before an agent becomes available. It connects calls as soon as the previous transaction is over.
The result? You’re able to place calls at high rates, making predictive dialing the method of choice for straightforward sales and telemarketing campaigns as well as fundraising and public awareness efforts.
RingCentral also offers manual dialing to mitigate TCPA risks. Keep in mind that customers are protected by the TCPA, or the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which protects consumers from unsolicited calls, particularly on cell phones.
RingCentral offers a full-featured manual dialing system with built-in tools to mitigate risks. If you want to call people who haven’t opted in your campaign, manual calls are the way to go. Our sales team would be more than happy to talk about these topics at length so be sure to give them a call.
Why you need an outbound call center solution
An outbound call center solution streamlines the way you handle sales calls, and essentially, your operations, whether you’re into any of the following:
- Appointment setting
Business-to-business or B2B appointment setting gives prospects a first-impression look at your goods or services, with the goal of getting them interested in speaking with an outbound sales agent and eventually making a purchase. This is generally thought of as one of the most difficult areas of business development.
- Outbound lead generation
The way you entice potential customers and get them to give you their contact information is called B2B lead generation. You can think of it as the methods that make people interested in your brand and make them want to learn more about your products or services.
- Market research
Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing information about your target market, competitors, and the industry in general. The data you gathered may comprise the missing piece to your strategic sales efforts. Commonly used market research techniques include:
- Focus groups
- Telemarketing or inside sales
This is a type of direct marketing or outbound marketing wherein an agent solicits prospects to purchase their company’s products or services. You can do this over a phone call or through a subsequent face-to-face interaction. As we have learned, this is the most common use of outbound calling.
- After-sales collection
A sale isn’t complete until full payment is received. The last thing you want is to put any kind of pressure on your customers. You can nudge them about their financial obligations over the phone, or better yet, through the channel they prefer.
- Outbound dialers - Depending on your outbound calling campaign, you can use—as discussed previously—preview, progressive, or predictive dialer
- Agent scripting - Agents get prompts and screen pops so they can deliver more personalized customer experiences
- Call blending - Manage outbound (and inbound) calls more efficiently, so agents are never idle
- Real-time data/insights - Get historical data and analytics tools, with reporting capability on different metrics
- Scalability - It’s cloud-based, so less infrastructure is needed
- Flexibility - Use it with a web browser and a WebRTC-based agent desktop
- Outsourced call centers typically come in the form of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies (Some are offshore call centers providing outbound and inbound call services). You can even have a BPO back office (or non-voice BPO back office) if you choose.
- You can opt to outsource outbound call center tasks and operations like:
- Appointment setting
- Lead generation and lead qualification
- Direct response marketing
- Patient outreach and other health care-related tasks
- Other commonly outsourced solutions include data entry, content marketing, software development, and even something as simple as event registration. Some companies focus on specific aspects like telemarketing services or virtual assistant services.
- Call center costs may or may not increase when you hire any of these call center services providers. It may be good to seek guidance from a call center consultant to determine if it’s right for your business.
Feel free to ask our sales team for more information on why having your own call center is more cost-effective than outsourcing contact centers.
What’s the best outbound call center solution for my business?
The best outbound call center solution is the one that fits your needs without going over your budget. It’s the software that has all the bells and whistles (outbound dialers included) to help your business achieve its specific goals, may it be customer acquisition, customer retention, lead generation, or market research.