When we think of outbound calling we often think of debt recovery, where the customer’s feelings fall second to recovering outstanding money, or even some double-glazing sales where it is all about reaching as many people as possible
However, in today’s competitive world, it is no longer sufficient to advertise and expect the market to come to us by way of an inbound call. Existing customers need to be stroked occasionally to encourage them to be loyal and fewer new customers find us, we have to go in search of them.
In addition to debt management and debt collection, companies are also looking to increase their customer service levels, as retaining existing customers is far less cost intensive than attempting to win new ones. As a result, companies are proactively making contact with their customer base on a more regular basis in order to increase customer service. As well as increasing the number of touch points with the customer, proactive outbound calling can also be used to increase the revenue derived from your customer base by up-selling or cross-selling new products to your ongoing customers.
Outbound should be a core part of any organisation’s go-to-market strategy, it is a way of developing valuable customer relationships, and done right it is a way of getting the appropriate proposition to an accurately targeted market.
It is the goal of every organisation to increase the number or value of products and services that a customer purchases from them. Take, for example, the insurance company, they would love to sell home insurance to every motor policy customer. However, very few organisations do anything other than the occasional mail shot to turn their desires into reality.
Many years ago there was a great example of this working in action. A major financial services organisation was providing unsecured loans. Once the customer had been accepted for the loan, rather than just sending out a letter, a small team would call the customer in the evening to give them the good news, while on the call this team would convey the benefits of income protection insurance on the loan. Take-up of income protection went up by over 300 percent.
If you do it in a considered manner, not too frequently and using professional staff, a ‘how are you doing?’ call to your customers can be very productive and worth every penny of the investment in the outbound activity.
With all of the systems we have in place regarding customer relationship management, policies, loyalty schemes, frequent-flier programmes, etc, we keep very close tabs on our customers. However, when was the last time you got a call from your favorite airline enquiring why you had not been flying recently, or from your supermarket asking why you are no longer using your Nectar card, etc.
Many organisations have a customer retention team in place, yet most of these are reactive to when the customer has decided to move away. With the cost of winning new customers so high, surely there is a way for us to be more proactive.
By Liam Kemp – Outbound Project Lead for Phoneta.