Time is money. An old cliché but nevertheless true, particularly for outbound operations teams in Contact Centres.
In fact one of the most common questions we get from Contact Centre managers is
“How can we make our outbound teams more efficient?”
A valid question. But focusing on efficiency alone will not guarantee improved results.
If the overall goal is indeed to achieve better results, then we recommend focusing on effectiveness. Efficiency will be taken care of as an integral component of the bigger solution.
Here’s what we suggest.
1. Change the outbound dialling process
Traditionally, the process for outbound dialling involves giving agents a script to follow, and a spreadsheet of numbers to call. They pick up the phone and work their way through the list, manually dialling each one, only to find that around 65% of the calls are not connected. The phone rings out or is disconnected, or the call is answered by a fax or answering machine.
This is an incredible waste of time and frustrating for team members, and can quickly affect motivation.
The remedy lies with using Automated Dialling technology, where the system quietly dials the numbers in the list and only passes connected calls to team members, resulting in a significant improvement in productivity.
What really changes the game though, is ramping up your campaign management efficiencies, made possible with powerful stats and analysis.
Team Leaders can analyse metrics on connection rates in geographic areas, by device types, and by different times of day, and set up optimal campaign configurations accordingly.
Contact Centre staff need to be kept busy. Team Leaders can review how many times the system redials a number, set the optimal redial attempts, and determine when to end a campaign because continuing with redialling is not viable.
2. Give them the information they need to do their job properly
Just about every one of us has at some point received a call from a company we’ve had history with, who are now trying to sell us something. More often than not, it’s not the first time they’ve called, and they’re probably offering something we’ve already said no to.
Their outbound team has of course been given “siloed” information which is out of date, and they have no way of checking or updating it. The agents don’t know that we are already a customer, or used to be a customer, because they can’t see any history.
Besides thoroughly frustrating the customer and making them feel undervalued, this kind of fruitless activity is a frustrating waste of time for the agent.
Every single customer should be made to feel important and appreciated. If you’re calling them, naturally they expect you to know their history with you, and to demonstrate that you understand their needs and preferences.
If they’re not a customer yet, then the conversation and outcome should still be recorded for future marketing needs.
We recommend integrating your CRM or ERP data right into the agent’s call screen so they have real time access to the information they need at the start of the call. Integration can be one-way, but two-way is best as it allows the agents to notate customer records with things like pronunciations, purchases, requests, additional decision makers, product/service interests and follow-up requirements as they go.
3. Give your team members their voice
Good scripts are those which help the agent deliver an effective introduction, deliver the pitch succinctly, overcome objections, and get the desired result – all without sounding too contrived.
This takes training, practice, and a scripting solution that’s integrated into the agent’s desktop to make it easy for them to follow, and easy for Team Leaders to update as needed.
The best results come from scripts which follow a flow and structure, but give the agent room to inject their own voice.
Developing and managing scripts involves:
- reviewing common responses and objections, and getting team input on script refinement
- encouraging your team members to add a touch of their own personalities to conversations to humanise each interaction
- creating flexibility so that wherever the prospect goes, the agent can adapt the conversation and flow of the script to go with them.
4. Regularly analyse outcomes and recordings to keep campaigns on track
The way each team member records the outcome of each call is integral to efficiency and effectiveness. The Premier Contact Point solution includes fully customisable wrap screens which require an update on disposition, call exclusion and call-back notation, before the agent can make or take another call.
Careful analysis of wrap reports will reveal patterns with specific agents and campaigns. These patterns are the starting point for deeper investigation using call recordings and team meetings, to ascertain why some agents achieve more than others and vice versa, and why some campaigns are more successful than others.
Having a call recording system that facilitates fast search and retrieval of call recordings enables team leaders to quickly pinpoint good and not-so-good practices, and initiate training and script refinements to get campaigns back on track.
5. Engender a culture of support and recognition
No-one ever deliberately sets out to fail. Failure comes from the inability to do what we need to do properly, when we are hampered by lack of knowledge, skills, equipment or opportunity.
When these basic needs are taken care of, motivation to achieve and be part of something bigger than ourselves is engendered by encouragement and recognition.
A key way to improve staff performance is to empower them. Get them involved with the why, what, and how of your contact centre KPIs. Sales (or collections) is the most common and important KPI for outbound teams, and should be available to them on their dashboard so they can keep monitoring their own progress.
One of the things we’ve implemented in many Contact Centres to help motivate teams and promote healthy competition, is to set up wallboards which display real time results and highlight the achievers.
In short, if you give your team the right tools and data, empower them to take initiatives within guidelines, provide regular feedback and training, and give plenty of support and recognition – then better efficiency and improved results will follow.