If you’ve found yourself wondering more about “What is an outbound call?” you’ve come to the right place. By understanding the purpose of outbound calling and what it takes to get an outbound call center up and running, you’ll be able to determine if it’s the right time to add it to your business. Learning the best practices and the right technologies will guide you toward maximizing the potential and profits of outbound calls.
What is an Outbound Call?
An outbound call center is a function of a business operation that employs customer support agents and/or sales representatives to make outgoing calls to third parties—namely customers, prospects, or other businesses.
Outbound call centers may make outbound calls exclusively, or they may combine outbound and inbound calling. An outbound call, unlike an inbound call, can be defined as a call that originates with a sales or support representative dialing a third party’s telephone number, such as a prospect or customer. Depending on the type of business and the larger industry, companies use outbound call centers for the following purposes:
- Telemarketing sales cold calls
- Customer service calls
- Marketing Research
- Nonprofit or charity fundraising
- Updating contact lists
- Surveys outreach
- Customer notifications
- Requesting information from other businesses
- Post-sale follow-ups
But an outbound call center can only fulfill its purpose when it’s efficient and effective. By using metrics to measure an outbound call center’s performance, companies will improve the customer experience which has a positive impact on their retention rates and reputation.
Some of the important areas that outbound call centers concentrate on are having clean and accurate call lists, having the customer’s history in front of them, and having high connect and conversion rates.
Should Outbound Calling Be Part of Your Call Center Operations?
When making a decision to include outbound calling as part of your overall business plan, it’s important to understand the purpose of this function. Other factors that will affect your decision about setting up outbound calling capabilities are the location of your call center and your budget.
If your business plan includes one of the purposes listed in the bullets above, outbound call functionality may be right for your company. Most modern outbound call centers use a digital tool with a power dialer feature that allows customer support agents and helpdesk agents to quickly pull up a contact’s number and dial it automatically. Using smart integrations, they can access the call history at the same time, so they have the proper information and context as soon as the phone rings.
By integrating outbound calls with your CRM software, your call agents will be able to respond in a personal way, which is something customers highly value. Outbound call software will also support compliance with regulations.
Location is a big consideration when evaluating implementing outbound call strategy. There are pros and cons to on-site outbound calls vs. a virtual call center. Some companies prefer using a fixed location where they have control over employees and security. Before making this decision, it’s important to weigh the costs of office expenses.
For companies that need outbound call capabilities and can’t manage the related office expenses, a virtual call center may be an option. Employees work from home which reduces setup costs. On-site and virtual call centers can make the choice between using remote teams or distributed teams.
Outbound Calling Best Practices
Many of the call center best practices for an outbound calling center revolve around compliance and providing excellent customer experience.
From a legal standpoint, call center businesses need to know the legal requirements for an outbound call. Federal laws give your contacts the right to opt-out of receiving sales and marketing calls.
If they request you to add their names to the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC), you must comply. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lists the rules for outbound dialing methods, pre-recorded messages, calling hours, and other information. If your call center isn’t set up for compliance, you risk facing substantial fines and risk backlash from your contacts.
Abiding by best practices for call centers will help your call agents to respond genuinely with empathy and connection which will yield the best possible response from your customers.
It’s essential to make a good first impression from the very first call. Write your scripts in such a way that call agents can recite them without coming off as canned or overly rehearsed. Encourage them to pay attention to their tone and ensure that it’s positive and enthusiastic while remaining genuine.
While customers appreciate a personal touch, urge your agents to focus on the reason for their call. Your customers lead busy lives and they appreciate it when you respect their time.
Be sure that outbound call agents understand your customer’s needs before they even say “hello.” The numbers call agents are dialing belong to someone that has a specific need that your company can provide. An Outbound call can help sort through their specific needs and pain points, and you can leverage that information to provide even better customer service and support.
In general, outbound call agents get a bad rap because people become tired of call center agents that wasted their time with sales calls they weren’t remotely interested in. A cloud-based phone system and other digital applications allow contact call center agents to approach a call with accurate information, address their needs, and allow customers to get back to their other activities in short order.
Ways to Measure Outbound Call Effectiveness
Think of the ways to measure outbound calls in terms of activity, customer service, and productivity.
A cloud-based phone system provides you with a dashboard that allows you to see the number of outbound (and inbound) calls your agents make every day. It will also tell you the total time they spent on calls.
If you do inbound calling as well, your dashboard will help you evaluate customer service. It tells you the percent of missed calls out of the total inbound calls you received. It also shows the percentage of voicemails your callers left. You’ll also benefit from checking out the average time that your customers have to wait before they’re connected with a call agent and the average treatment time which is the amount of time before a voicemail or missed call gets archived by a user in the phone app.
Assess your productivity by monitoring the average duration of outbound calls and the average number of calls per user. All you have to do is divide the total number of calls in a day by the number of call agents that made calls that day.
Your results provide valuable data that you can use to benchmark goals to improve performance. A/B tests are a good way to help you make adjustments in your calling approach.
Technology to Drive Outbound Call Success
Contact support centers are quickly becoming a standard in the marketplace. Grand View Research shows that the size of the contact center software market could reach $72.3 billion by 2027 with an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 19.7% over this period. Advancements in AI will have a notable impact on the growth rate.
The introduction of interactive voice response (IVR) and automatic call distribution (ACD) software have also helped contact call centers to increase productivity. Cloud-based phone systems have helped to increase the security of confidential information through web security. The addition of a cloud-based phone system also enhances call center efficiency because it provides multiple communication channels and has remote capability.
Aircall’s cloud-based phone system facilitates call routing, call recording, and call distribution. The software also easily integrates with your CRM and other applications, paving the way for great customer experience and satisfaction which translates to long-term value for your business. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become preferred technology because it’s less expensive than other phone service options.
When you have the need for outbound call operations, it pays to do some pre-planning to make it successful. Do a thorough review of your business plan and ensure that it will help you meet your goals. Be clear on your purpose for your outbound call center and carefully choose metrics to correlate with your goals. Choose the location that best suits you and train your staff well in compliance and customer experience. Finally, continue making adjustments as you learn and grow.