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Inbound and outbound contact centers: Why you need both to win


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When a customer connects with your business, what can they expect? Different customers would likely give different answers to that question, although there’s probably one thing all businesses would probably like to be able to say: consistency. 

Unfortunately for many companies, providing that customer experience consistency isn’t as easy as it sounds. Inbound contact center managers work hard to bring agents up to speed and train them to deliver a positive experience every time a customer connects with the brand. Outbound contact center sales managers dedicate themselves to enabling their agents to sell, sell, sell. Often, however, those strategies don’t align and consequently leaves the customer confused, or worse, with a poor customer experience. 

Companies today need to start asking themselves some tough questions: Is my company delivering a consistently positive, on-brand experience from outbound to inbound? Are we in control of the conversation?

When considering the above, a lot of companies focus their efforts on their inbound contact center challenges: juggling volume, agent readiness, and first-call resolution. Outbound contact centers, on the other hand, are often not viewed as a key component in the customer experience. They’re viewed as a means to win new business rather than an opportunity for positive, engaging customer contact. As a result, customer experiences across both channels are inconsistent, putting customers and sales at risk.

While inbound allows you to be there for customers when they call on you, outbound offers the opportunity to proactively strengthen the business-customer relationship with a two-way conversation. More than just a way to generate new prospects or collect payments, outbound is a chance to win customers over by demonstrating that you want to help, by reaching out to customers at the appropriate time in their buying journey. 

Outbound contact centers: The customer perspective

Today, customers have unlimited choices for where to take their business. That’s why their experience with your company matters so much, from first impressions to becoming a return customer. 

Let’s take the example of Susie, a customer of the fictional Hit the Pavement (HTP) running store. She’s an avid athlete and frequently shops around for clothing, shoes, and accessories to help her feel her best while she’s chasing down her goals. About 11 months ago, Susie made her first purchase from HTP: a new pair of running shoes. 

Since her first purchase, she has had some contact with HTP, but not much. She’s called the store to ask about the lifespan of this particular pair of shoes. Customer service was great and told her that her new shoes should last about a year, given her training regimen.  

Outbound contact centers: the business perspective 

For HTP, delivering great customer service is a source of pride, as well as key strategy for creating repeat customers and maintaining a sustainable business model. They train their inbound contact center reps on how to deliver a superior customer experience, answer customer questions, troubleshoot, and upsell where appropriate. 

They also use outbound to improve their customer experience––and bottom line. For example, when HTP’s outbound call center technology recognizes that it’s been nearly 12 months since Susie’s purchase, she’s queued up in the company’s smart dialing system and connected to an outbound contact center agent. Once connected, with all of Susie’s information on file, the rep can remind Susie that it’s time for a new pair of runners, talk her through what she did and didn’t love about her last purchase, and guide her in choosing and ordering her new pair. Best of all, Susie’s needs are taken care of even before she herself has to think about. It takes the burden off her to remember when to purchase a new pair of shoes (that her feet will thank her for). 

The big picture

Today’s market is competitive. Fragmented, piecemeal business interactions rarely lead to positive impressions. To succeed, today’s call centers need to consider every angle of customer interaction––and that means creating a two-way conversation that’s consistently positive and engaging whether inbound or outbound.

Melding outbound and inbound strategies can take your selling and overall customer experience to the next level. When used correctly, outbound call center technology can help businesses support compliance, improve speed-to-lead, and increase agent productivity and customer satisfaction.

When companies start looking at selling as a two-way conversation and don’t separate outbound sales calls and inbound support interactions, elevating every engagement becomes a real possibility. To learn more about how carefully considering outbound call center technology can help you transform your customer relationships into a two-way, winning-the engagement conversation, check out our Outbound Engagement Playbook, available now.

Originally published Jul 24, 2019, updated Jan 30, 2023

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