What is an Outbound Call Center?
An outbound call center (also called an outbound contact center) performs outbound communication to customers and prospects via channels like phone, sms and email. Outbound call centers are usually sales and marketing oriented, focusing on programs including inbound lead follow-up, customer acquisition, customer conversion, cross-sell, upsell, retention and winback. Their main purpose is to drive outcomes like qualifying customers, booking appointments, converting customers, and ultimately increasing revenue.
While there are outbound call centers that cold call, the outbound call centers at the fastest growing brands are focused on outreach to TCPA-compliant inbound leads. They focus on reaching inbound leads to strengthen the human relationships with the customer to improve their customer experience and help them get the product or service they need.
Why should you have both an inbound call center for customer support and an outbound call center for sales and marketing?
For many businesses, inbound call centers (also called inbound contact centers) handle inbound customer support requests via calls, texts and emails from people who need help. They work to improve customer experiences, while keeping the number of customer interactions as low as possible to keep costs down
Outbound call centers are different from inbound call centers. Outbound call centers are focused on proactively reaching out to high-intent prospects and customers to have a conversation - intentionally increasing the number of customer interactions (and cost), because it drives incremental revenue. As long as the revenue generated is more than 2x the cost, most brands deem the program a success, and push to expand. Clearly, the efficiency of the agents still matters as it’s less expensive if an agent can have 10 conversations per hour versus 5 per hour. As a result, outbound call centers typically use some form of auto-dialer or power dialer to place calls, and the most sophisticated outbound call centers use technology like Regal.io to orchestrate immediate and personalized outreach.
How do you Start an Outbound Call Center?
To get an outbound call center up and running, you’ll need to invest in technology, and hire the right staff to set up the necessary processes.
On the technology side, a B2C sales software needs to solve a few key challenges:
- Increase customer engagement by using a Journey Builder to orchestrate outreach in the right channel, with the right branded phone number, at the right moment, with the right message;
- Improve customer conversion by giving agents the right context with a unified Agent Desktop, having customer-specific scripts, and using live listening and Conversational Intelligence to coach agents;
- Maximize agent efficiency by automating the agent workflow with a sales dialer, 1:1 SMS, 24/7 SMS Assistant, and post-conversation automation;
- Measure what matters with A/B testing and real-time reporting to see what's working and what's not.
- Stay compliant with TCPA, TSR and other industry specific requirements like HIPAA and SOC2.
Staffing up can be a challenge, but we see the most success when teams start with a revenue focused leader even if they have limited contact center experience. Then you are looking for agents that both know your company well, and have the right attitude to help drive revenue. Often companies start with the customer service agents that are most interested in moving into sales to learn which skill sets matter most, and then start hiring externally. In all contact centers, and especially in sales, performance management is critical – typically the top 10% of agents perform a standard deviation above the rest, while the bottom 10% are a standard deviation below. If only you could have all agents perform like the best.
Measuring Effectiveness at Outbound Call Centers
The most effective outbound call centers are obsessed with metrics – the right metrics. By focusing on the following output metrics, teams can make sure they are successfully running an effective program. By starting there, teams can then dig into the input metrics (examples below) that they need to operationalize to achieve the outputs they need:
- Connect Rate = unique leads reached / unique leads called
- Benchmark: 10-30%
- Sample input metrics: calls per agent per hour, overlap of rep staffing to lead volume, speed to lead, answer rate
- Conversion from Connect to Close = leads closed / leads reached
- Benchmark: 5-15%
- Sample input metrics: speaking to listening ratio, script compliance, average time on call
- Average Revenue per Lead = total revenue from leads / unique leads
- Benchmark: Varies widely by industry, but should be at least 2x cost
- Input metrics: Conversion rate, revenue per lead
- Average Cost per Lead = total software and people cost / unique leads
- Benchmark: Varies widely by industry
- Input metrics: cost per agent, calls per agent per hour, cost of technology, cost of management and QA
Getting these metrics is impossible if you don’t have software that provides detailed reporting. The leading best-in-class tools not only allow in-app reporting, but they also stream data to the customer’s data stack so that sales and operational teams can run their own sets of analyses.
TIPS FOR RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL OUTBOUND CALL CENTER
Running a successful outbound call center is hard but here are a few helpful tips:
- Invest in your people. Live agents are your most significant cost, but hiring and supporting the right team can result in amazing outcomes.
- Use data to make decisions. Never lead with your gut — your interaction with a few customers out of millions, or a few agents out of hundreds, can completely leave you with the wrong impression. Make sure you are looking at the data overall.
- Don’t limit outbound to sales. Think of all the moments in the customer lifecycle where you use email or other tools to drive the customer to an action, then A/B test calling the customer in that moment. Yes, there is a real cost to making outbound calls, but if you can drive improvements in lifetime customer value, the costs are easily worth it. Try use cases like acquisition, sales, retention, cross-sell, up-sell, winback, and even collections.
- Equip your call center with the right tools. The software you use is at the heart of any thriving outbound call center. Thousands of call centers use outbound call and SMS sales or contact center solutions like Regal.io to help agents deliver exceptional customer experiences.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CALL CENTER PLATFORM
Outbound call centers often face challenges like low answer/connection rates, unmotivated agents, difficulty ensuring call quality, low customer satisfaction, and complying with laws and legal requirements. Choosing the right software with the right resources can eliminate these common issues.
When selecting an outbound call center platform, look for the following features:
Multi-Channel Support - Outbound call centers need to cater to customers' preferences. The best call center software will allow omni-channel communication across different channels, like voice (phone calls), text messaging (SMS), and email.
ACD and IVR - At the core, Contact Center as a Service Software (CCaaS) automates the flow of inbound and outbound calls (and other channels) for support and sales teams. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD), or call routing, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) are key features.
Automatic Dialing - An automated dialer, like Regal's Sales Dialer, automates dialing so live agents can drive 60+ calls per hour and maximize closed deals. Make sure there is also an agent desktop that gives agents the customer information, scripts, and context they need to succeed.
Security & Compliance - Call centers handle large amounts of personal, sensitive data. The software you choose should have extensive security measures such as data encryption and should comply with certifications like SOC2 and HIPAA and industry standards like GDPR and CCPA.
User-Friendly - Call center agents are your most important assets. Your platform should be easy for agents and managers to use so you can reduce training time, increase efficiency, and KEEP THEM HAPPY!
Integration Capabilities - Make sure the software you choose has the integrations you need. Does the software easily integrate with other applications and systems like your CRM or databases?
Analytics & Reporting - Your call center software should offer insights on key performance indicators, including call volume, call resolution times, customer satisfaction scores, agent performance, and more.
OUTBOUND CALL CENTER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Running a thriving call center can be confusing, especially with so many different terminologies available. Below we're answering some of the most commonly asked questions about operating an outbound call center.
1. What are the different types of outbound calls?
Outbound call centers may make telemarketing calls, sales or upsell calls, survey calls, appointment confirmations, follow-ups, customer retention calls, and more.
2. What is a power dialer?
You may have heard of call center software offering services like a power dialer. This tool is essential for contact centers making a high volume of calls. The power dialer will automatically dial the next number on the contact list to minimize idle time for agents.
3. How can I better train my call center agents?
Running a call center means you'll need access to metrics like incoming call volume, call trends, and agent efficiency. With call center software, you can use real-time analytics and detailed reporting to better understand how well your agents perform. Get insights on their product knowledge, sales techniques, and communication skills to learn what areas need improvement.
4. What should I look for when hiring live agents to work in my call center?
As we mentioned above, you'll need to hire the right staff to get your outbound call center up and running. Look for potential employees with excellent verbal and written communication, patience, and strong listening skills.
5. Will my business benefit from using call center software?
If your call center handles a large number of calls, contact center software can help improve efficiency and boost customer service. For example, a power dialer allows agents to dial numbers automatically, while AI-driven integrations can access customer data for a more personalized experience.
Ultimately, building and investing in an outbound call center can lead to great results, and the fastest growing companies are relying on modern tools to reach their goals. Unlike traditional contact center software, Regal.io improves the performance of B2C sales teams with event-driven outreach, branded calls and texts, a unified agent desktop, and real-time A/B testing and reporting. For example, SoFi was able to see a 66% lift in answer rate and 8% lift in loan conversion by using Regal.io.
Learn about these products and services at Regal.io, read more posts at regal.io/blog or email us at email@example.com.