In an era of multichannel customer support, many companies forget that customer support works two ways: both inbound and outbound. With profit margins narrowing and companies jostling to get ahead of their competitors, many have turned to outbound methods to both sell and engage in proactive customer outreach in order to cement the customer relationship into a loyal one.
Outbound telemarketing, however, isn’t for the faint of heart. Done improperly, it can be intrusive, annoying and even costly, if it violates rules and regulations. There are many moving parts in an outbound telemarketing campaign, and it’s important to keep them all under control and proceed the right way instead of the wrong way.
That said, the following are some “do’s and don’ts” when it comes engaging in outbound telemarketing.
Do pick the right time to call. Calling a customer to try and sell them something unrelated after they’ve just made a large purchase will annoy them. Calling them to upsell or cross-sell them on related products or services, however, can be a great opportunity, and welcomed by customers. Ensure the pitch and its timing are appropriate.
Do link your CRM to your outbound efforts. Before a call is even placed, make sure the agent can see the entire history of the customer’s relationship with the organization in order to avoid asking dumb questions or seeming unaware of the customer’s history. Nothing will turn a customer off to your company more than realizing that, despite having spent a lot of money with your business, you don’t know who they are and what interactions they’ve had with you recently.
Do use a dialing solution. By segmenting customers properly and building intelligent calling lists, outbound marketers can place more calls and reach more customers at the right time. A dialing solution can allow agents to call many times more customers per hour and greatly increase the likelihood of a connection and a sale.
Do put the right people on the phones. Outbound telemarketing is not for the faint of heart, but there are some people who have a knack for it and some who don’t. Ordering an agent with no skills and no enthusiasm to make outbound calls won’t do your organization any favors.
Don’t forget to ensure you are legally able to call a prospect or customer. In addition to the federal do-not-call registry, there are state registries that must be observed. Moreover, each state may have its own rules about calling hours, prior relationships and calling mobile phones.
Don’t use automated outbound calling (i.e. “robocalling”) for prospects or customers you don’t have an established relationship with. For starters, it’s illegal in many circumstances. Secondly, customers dislike it intensely: you risk turning your company into “Rachel from Card Services.” While automated outbound calling has a place in service reminders, appointment reminders or refills, automated cold-calling should be struck off a marketer's to-do list permanently.
Finally, if you believe that an outbound campaign would help your company but you decide you simply don’t have the resources for it, consider hiring a professional third party to do it. It’s not the sort of project that should ever be undertaken with incomplete resources or amateur methods.
Edited by Blaise McNamee