Real-Time Call Record Delivery Via The Internet
BY RICH NELSON, CALL INTERACTIVE
Patience may be a virtue, but in the high-stakes world of direct marketing, nobody
likes to play the waiting game. Not surprisingly, speed-of-light advances in technology
are causing an ideological shift - replacing the "when can I have it?" attitude
with an "I want it now" attitude, making waiting almost obsolete.
Consider the Internet: once an interesting pastime for cyber enthusiasts, this rapidly
growing technology is permeating homes and businesses worldwide. According to "The
1997 American Usage Survey" conducted by the Emerging Technologies Research Group,
27.7 million adults were online last year, and researchers say this number will double by
the year 2000. With this kind of coverage, the Internet has not only become an excellent
resource for news and information, but has also fast evolved into a super-highway for data
and call-record exchange.
For businesses, this means information captured during promotions involving an
automated, interactive voice response (IVR) element (promotions in which customers call a
toll-free telephone number to enter a sweepstakes, request information, receive service
assistance and more) can be accepted quickly via Internet record exchange.
Picture this: you've kicked off a massive, national direct-response campaign, complete
with all the bells and whistles. (Use your imagination - this is the ultimate promotion.)
You have television advertising, a toll-free phone number and the opportunity for
consumers to call in and win hundreds of desirable prizes or to purchase fascinating
products. It's the perfect program, and response is immediately phenomenal.
To monitor your media buy, however, you need to know immediately the number of
customers who are responding by phone to TV ads placed in specific geographic regions.
This is a 10-month campaign and your charge is to adjust media coverage throughout the
promotion relative to where response is (or is not) occurring.
Traditional transcripts of call records enable you to review your campaign's activity
quickly, typically when call-activity reports are faxed to you the next day. This
promotion, however, is popping and you need to hit where it's hot, so you seek the help of
a teleservices agency that not only can provide premium IVR tools - including superior
transcription services - but can also forward your call records in real-time.
No problem. The nation's most savvy IVR teleservices agencies already have the
technology to provide records on-demand. All you have to do is ask.
Speed Versus Quality
It used to be that getting something quickly meant sacrificing quality for speed,
or vice versa - you couldn't have both. This is no longer true. The speed of cyberspace
means quality call records can be directed to campaign managers within seconds of caller
hang up, or immediately after transcription, freeing marketers to respond quickly to
consumer-interest shifts or allowing call center managers to return
request-for-information phone calls on the spot. Moreover, customers can be added to your
database in real-time, a plus for companies offering services requiring immediate consumer
Plus, if you are managing a direct-response promotion and realize live operations
cannot answer every call during peak periods, you need a program enhancement. For many, an
efficient, user-friendly choice is a customized IVR system designed to receive
"spill-over" calls. Your calls ring at the teleservices agency, the automated
operator answers, caller information is retrieved and a scripted response alerts the
caller that a live representative will call back soon.
To complete the circle, information captured by the teleservices agency is transferred
- within seconds of a completed call - to your database (via the Internet), where you can
immediately retrieve it and respond to the customer. The advantage: more customers are
reached - increasing revenue opportunities - while perceived responsiveness increases and
The Customer Satisfaction Cycle
People want to feel important, particularly if they are making purchasing decisions.
Regardless of net worth, economic conditions and annual income, how consumers spend their
money is based, in large part, on where they feel they receive the most for their dollar.
Customer satisfaction, research suggests, is a key determinant of consumer loyalty, and
satisfied customers typically feel the return on their investment worthwhile. Every year,
however, more than half of the average brand's loyal customers will shift to another
company for a similar product.
Therefore, customer satisfaction, in conjunction with customer retention, becomes a
vital component of every business' success.
Current Harvard Business School research by Narakesari Narayandas suggests a link
between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. That link, however, isn't always as
strong as executives might think. In fact, Narayandas' research suggests customers must be
more than satisfied to remain loyal. They must be "delighted." Delighted
customers, Narayandas says, exhibit strong ties to companies and brands and repurchase
products from favored companies more often than customers who are simply satisfied.
Additionally, delighted customers are "advocates" of their vendors' products,
moving other people to purchase from vendors and companies of which they approve. The same
research suggests delighted customers will even pay more for services from their favorite
To create this extremely satisfied (delighted) customer, businesses must balance
internal needs with straightforward reality: clients are the reason for the business.
Without customers, businesses die. That's why nourishing a business with satisfied
customers helps ensure growth; and providing customers with the technology, service,
products and managerial skills they need to function successfully keeps them coming back.
Reciprocity is key. Retention is vital.
Is there a sure-fire, beat-all, guaranteed way to keep every customer? No. However,
there are formulas for success that work, and one component of success is providing
customers consistently superior services and ahead-of-the-pack products. Technology is a
stand-out way to meet this charge.
Companies committed to advancing technology have a marked advantage over businesses
resistant to technological change. Even so, the high cost of many technologies sometimes
prevents businesses from engaging in state-of-the-art practices, and from making
new-technology purchases - not because they don't want to, but because they can't afford
to, even if they know their customers could benefit.
Maximizing Satisfaction And Profits With Technology
Making a hefty financial investment isn't necessarily a prerequisite for ensuring
technological advancement. Some of the most effective marketing programs are initiated
using existing technology in a new and clever way - at a very affordable cost.
Caller records, received over the Internet, are a good example of out-of-the-box
thinking that is easy on the bottom line; and Internet-distributed call information
streamlines the data-passage process, allowing multiple recipients (and vendors) to share
records, if necessary.
To ensure that your call-record-receipt program is as customized as your IVR program:
- Realize call-record delivery time is up to you. If you have Internet access, records can
be sent as soon as calls terminate and can be received constantly, 24 hours a day. If you
prefer a more traditional batch feed, this remains an Internet-receipt option as well.
Transcribed records can also be forwarded immediately upon completion.
- Devise an in-house process for record receipt. The technology you'll need to complete
this function includes Internet access and a destination address for call records.
- Arrange a single point of contact in-house (an individual or group of individuals)
responsible for retrieving and routing the records.
One powerful advantage of real-time Internet record delivery is the technology's
ability to put leads in executives' hands at lightning speed. This facilitates quick
delivery of products and information to the customer. The faster potential consumers'
requests are met, the more quickly sales are closed.
Outside the obvious benefits of immediate receipt, Internet-fed records eliminate the
dial-in process associated with traditional IVR teleservices agency record retrieval. In
the words of one industry expert, "You don't have to do anything to get them - the
records are just there," direct to host. Most IVR companies will also generate
traditional call reports - in addition to Internet-fed records - for clients who require
Ease of use, affordability and speed mean Internet record receipt could fast become a
must-have call center technology; it could dramatically change how you do business.
Rich Nelson is vice president of marketing and new business development at Call
Interactive, a leading North American IVR company that is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska
and is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data Corporation. Nelson has more than 20 years
of experience in the telecommunications and call center industry.