In most cases, the customer interacts with a brand more than just once. According to a 2018 Kitewheel report, the number of customer interactions per year is growing rapidly – from 400 million in 2014 to a whopping 3 billion in 2017! A good start is not enough anymore. Your customers are very likely to get in touch at different stages of their journey. With 2020 just around the corner, how can you tackle this?
You don't need to change the type of call center you're running, but it pays off to tweak your efforts a little! In this article, we'll talk about why you should have both inbound and outbound contact centers. First of all, we'll explain the differences between these two:
What is an inbound contact center
An inbound call center, as the name would suggest, is focused on receiving incoming calls. More comprehensive contact centers cover incoming emails, SMS and live chat messages, too. In other words: in this case, it's the customer who's calling.
Typically, inbound centers are associated with customer support and tech support. To make this smoother for both sides, inbound call centers use different technologies, such as interactive voice response. These call center software solutions help them handle dozens and hundreds of inquiries more effectively.
On the other hand, inbound has become an essential part of the sales funnel in recent years.
Think about it this way: if a potential client decides to get in touch, they're considering the purchase quite seriously. It's a valuable hot lead, so why not strike the iron when it's hot? They've already expressed interest in what you have to offer and made enough effort to even call you first. This is exactly why it pays off to have a dedicated inbound-focused sales call center.
What is an outbound contact center
Outbound call centers are focused on outgoing calls. Usually, the agents are working with a contact list of existing and/or potential customers. The most popular fields of use for outbound contact centers include:
The most common use for outbound calls, telemarketing, is a controversial method. Probably unsurprisingly to you, it's perceived rather negatively by the prospects. According to a survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, 98% of people claim that telemarketing makes them angry! It's an overwhelming number, isn't it?
Why exactly is that so? Think about decades of automated "robocalls", unsolicited and irrelevant phone calls bothering people from all walks of life. All this has added up to the disastrous reputation of telemarketing.
But does it always have to be like that?
People hate telemarketing because they receive offers they don't really care about. This can be changed if you allocate your resources a bit more wisely. Dig deeper into your prospect list and choose the ones that are more likely to be interested.
This way, you're more likely to reach the right customers and it's much less work for you and your call center agents! Highly-targeted prospect lists are one of the main traits of modern outbound lead generation, which is currently used mostly by B2B companies.
#2 Market research
The lion's share of statistics on the internet comes from outbound call center market research. One of the most popular methods here is telephone focus groups. In this case, the researcher calls the participants and interviews them. It's a handy way to collect information, as questions can be answered from anywhere.
You can drop the travel costs and venue hire fees – all you need is one call! The calls are usually recorded using call center software. Focus groups typically involve people who haven't used the product before.
#3 Customer retention
How can you find out if your current clients are happy and would like to continue using your services?
You can just ask them. Follow-up calls are made to measure the customer's experience, see what went well and what else can be improved. It's both a source of valuable information and a way to show them that you genuinely care about what they think.
What is the difference between inbound and outbound call center
Based on our experience, we'd say the biggest difference lies in the emotions the agents need to deal with.
In the case of inbound call centers, communication is more emotional. The customer, who calls first, can be alert, curious and interested in finding out more. Most of the time, however, the feelings are on the other side of the spectrum. The people who get in touch are trying to solve a certain problem. This makes them frustrated, annoyed and oftentimes angry.
When it comes to outbound call centers, the objective is different – the agent is doing their best to get the customer's attention. The person on the other side of the phone is usually in a rush, not very engaged, sometimes even bored. The idea is to keep them engaged in the conversation and spark some positive emotions.
Why should your business use both inbound and outbound contact center?
Now that you know the exact responsibilities in inbound and outbound call centers, it's time to explain why both of them should be a part of your business:
To integrate customer journeys
As we've already mentioned, your customer is very likely to get in touch multiple times along the way. This is exactly why it's crucial to keep their good experience consistent. A single amazing move is sure to catch attention, but it's not enough to gain loyalty.
Need an example?
You might persuade your customer to register or buy your product with an excellent outbound campaign. It's a great start, indeed. But what will happen if they need tech support and suddenly no one is there to help them out?
You guessed it. They'll move on to find a better solution.
The most valuable customers are the ones that are with you already. Don't rest on your laurels once they're aboard – do your best to keep them happy and even increase customer satisfaction. They will definitely pay you back with their loyalty and recommendations!