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Businesses Save Money Through Interactive Outreach To Customers, According to Forrester

Organizations seeking to reduce costs and improve customer service can do so by intelligently reaching out to customers through outbound notification: interactive voice messages, e-mail, and SMS, rather than relying on annoying one-way home phone ‘robocalls’.

A new report by Forrester Research “Proactive Outbound Notification Saves Money” and which is being publicized by SoundBite Communications discusses how the outbound notification market is evolving to address these new channels and consumer preferences.
These new means lead to savings on carrier, staffing, and infrastructure costs over live agent call handling. There are fewer incoming lines, decreased number of calls, and reduced long distance changes, along with fewer agents and support staff, and lower recruitment, training, and overhead costs. Rates range from $0.08 to $0.20 per message with SaaS (News - Alert) pricing and a small setup fee. In contrast other research indicates that live agent calls costs $5 per interaction.
The Forrester (News - Alert) report, written by Vice President and Principal Analyst Elizabeth Herrell says traditional outbound voice messaging services that typically send calls to home phones are no longer adequate. They have major limitations that include:
*          One-way communication, which prevents customers from responding easily, questioning the messages, or making changes to them. This restriction may generate more and expensive inbound calls to live agents
*          Confusion and miscommunication with unclear messages may lead to increased customer dissatisfaction when customers cannot respond
*          Single-channel use, what with many customers using multiple channels today. Also many people no longer use their home phones as their prime communication tool. Sources say increasing numbers of households have gone wireless-only
*          Lack of personalization, which leads to ignored messages, and wasted money
*          Lack of security, as anyone can listen to landline phone messages unless there is screening
Instead the new channels: e-mail, text, and mobile messaging, and smart use of and interactive voice messages have become preferred communication channels for many firms. These methods, which Forrester refers to as ‘interactive multichannel communications’, provide several benefits. These include:
*          Messages reaching customers quickly and in the methods they prefer: SMS, e-mail messages, mobile phones, smartphones, or landline phones. This increases customer satisfaction due to the timely receipt of the messages
*          Proactive contact with customers on matters of interest through customer opt-in. Customers react positively to companies that take a special interest in them and anticipate their needs. This results in better brand recognition and increased loyalty
Opt-in also has another key benefit: compliance with the new Federal Trade Commission regulations that take effect in September that require express written consent from customers before receiving pre-recorded marketing/sales messages. This can be done, said the report “at the same time they become customers and agree to the channel through which they want to receive relevant sales offers.”
*          Anticipating customer needs, which eliminates repetitive inbound calls on common topics by proactively providing customer information on changes or account updates
“Customers appreciate receiving timely information that indicates the company is looking out for their best interests,” said the report.
*          Alerting customers to special events, which helps predict customers’ interest and target promotions to generate new revenues. This supports marketing campaigns without the expense of other forms of expensive advertising.
 “Customer service managers find that interactive proactive communications improve customer satisfaction and add value with personalized messages to individual recipients,” says the report. “While these services are typically applied to collections and emergency notifications services, newer customer support and sales and marketing notifications offer greater potential for differentiating services and engaging customers. Anticipating customers’ needs before they have to make a call not only saves money in handling customer calls but also creates interest in special marketing offers and services that your customers find valuable.”
"Proactive customer communications is evolving to address how consumers communicate today-primarily via mobile devices,” adds Mark Friedman (News - Alert), chief marketing officer for SoundBite Communications. “This Forrester report provides objective information on proactive customer communications. It is an excellent resource for any organization that values their customer relationships and would like to evaluate whether their existing communications strategy can support individual consumer communications preferences.”

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray
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What Are Related Definitions You Should Know?

Related definitions that you should know as you increase your understanding of predictive dialers include:

Dialer: generic term for any computer-driven device that places outbound calls and connects the answered calls to an agent or operator.

Agent: telephone professional to whom a predictive dialer sends the ready call.

Predictive Dialer: Predictive dialing was introduced for the purpose of increasing efficiency within calling centers. They are computer based system that automatically dial groups of telephone numbers, and then passes live calls to available agents. The SpitFire Enterprise dialer utilizes sophisticated algorithms to speed up and slow down the call rate based on, number of available agents, number of available lines, the campaign’s average call time and other statistical information.

Quick Connect: Quick Connect allows your agents to log in one-to-one with a phone line. This option is great for B2B purposes, especially when your agent needs to be on the phone line through the entire call.

Fixed Dialing: Fixed Dialing gives your call center manager the power to manually set the volume of calls. The software will then automatically dial a predetermined number of lines per agent. Fixed dialing is ideal for political campaigns, charity campaigns, and other situations drop call ratios are not a factor.

Auto dialer: makes thousands of calls screening for busy signals, no answers, fax machines while detecting answering machines/voicemail and delivers pre-recorded messages. SpitFireX Auto Dialer is a low cost solution for voice broadcasting.

How Do Predictive Dialers Work?

Predictive dialers use complex mathematical algorithms that calculate, in real time:

  1. the number of available agents
  2. the number of phone lines available
  3. the probability of reaching a human being at a specific number
  4. the time between calls required for optimum agent efficiency
  5. the length of typical agent/customer or
    debtor conversations
  6. the average length of time agents require to wrap up after a call

SpitFire Enterprise Predictive SEP is a fully blended call center solution that supports unlimited lines, agents, and campaigns. Its greatest strength is in its flexibility: multiple campaigns can be set up, viewed, and changed with the click of a button. With easy options for customization, data and dispositions can be catered to each campaign. In addition to our user-friendly interface, SEPhighlights full customer data and combines multiple campaigns on one screen. All the information your agents need is accessible at a glance, freeing their energy to focus on what matters: the calls.

Keep It Simple with SpitFire Fully Integrated Call Center Software

Our greatest priority is making your call center run smoothly, and we do that by developing software that is intuitive and easily integrated with your current systems. SEP works seamlessly with most CRM applications and long distance carriers, making it the simplest and most cost-effective solution for your call center.

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Benefits of Using a Predictive Dialer

  1. Manages the process of dialing tens of thousands of calls or tens of millions of calls in its lifetime.
  2. Detects the result of the call, as an example: no answer, busy, fax, bad number, answering machine without any presence of human expertise. Consequently saving time by only transferring calls which are voice connects to the agents locally or remotely.
  3. Using predictive dialer increases the productivity of the company by drastically increasing the time agents spend on the phone talking to actual customers or prospective clients.
  4. Predictive dialer users get the ability to organize and better manage the client information, no lost notes scribbled on pieces of paper. The database used by the dialer organizes the calling structure.
  5. The most significant task done by the predictive dialer is to predict, which means always making an effort to get a live call to the available agent with the shortest amount of wait time. This is achieved by self learning algorithms within the predictive dialer to increase or decrease the dial ratio per agent, logged into the system.
  6. Inbound call can be better dealt with by allowing the customers to wait on hold in an IVR system, or a way to leave a message they'd like a callback while the agent is busy talking with other customers.
  7. Most important benefit of a predictive dialer is it reduces expenses for your company over a period of time since you do not need to buy and deploy a complex and sometimes extremely expensive PBX system. Your company will experience return of investment (ROI) in a period of six to twelve months.
  8. A predictive dialing system can effortlessly fit into your companies existing infrastructure since it is software controlled.
  9. The call routing logic and the contact management is all included in one software package. Your call routing logic implemented as per your specifications. Since it is a software package it can easily be upgraded even if you are located remotely with the help of internet.
  10. Provides an added cost effective method of managing the client database by giving the user of the predictive system ability to rework your database on previous call results.

    1. only redial records which were busy, no answers and answering machines
    2. Delete records which are bad numbers, disconnected numbers or operator intercepts
  11. Do a real time look up against the do not call database saving the predictive dialer user from accidentally calling people who have enrolled in the do National not call registry. This saves the company from lawsuits and others risks conforming to all legal statutes and FCC complaints.
  12. Provides progressive dialing capabilities like call blending which means handling inbound and outbound call at the same time.
  13. Provides ability to integrate call recording devices and call monitoring interfaces which helps call center supervisors to train agents and users and improve their customer support skills.
  14. Easy to setup and learn the predictive dialer logic and software tools.

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