Reinventing Outbound Service: Proactively Engaging Your Customers

Forget about sales, there are far more opportunities you're missing if you aren't utilising outbound customer service

Why outbound customer service is the key to customer retention, improved data, and differentiating your organisation

When you hear ‘Outbound Contact Centre’ what comes to mind? Pushy salespeople? Spam calls? A dying contact method? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way - how can we reinvent outbound contact in a way that is genuinely beneficial to both the customers and business?

In our last instalment in the Reinventing Outbound series we covered outbound sales (you can read that article here), so now we’re moving onto an area that is less utilised – outbound customer service.

In our live event, ‘Reinventing Outbound: Service’, TMAC CEO & Co-Founder Jimmy Hosang and Senior Solutions Consultant Paul Banks joined forces with Al Hughes of FAB Solutions, and Marianne Withers of The Verity Centre to discuss how contact centres can turn into profit centres.

Proactive vs reactive service

By nature, receiving inbound calls is a reactive activity. You wait for a customer to have a query or problem, you pick up the phone and hear about it for the first time, you do your best to solve their issue on the spot. So, what if we turn this around and put more power into the hands of contact centre agents?

We’re not suggesting you close off your phone lines, with 62% of customers still favouring a phone call over other contact options that would be bound to cause upset, not to mention some queries will be more urgent and require direct contact in the moment. However, where you can it is worth setting up a system that allows customers to give you details of their query online so you can choose a time slot and prepare for their call.

Specify a time. We’ve all faced the frustrating scenario of receiving a delivery slot that spans over several hours and being forced to wait at home for the day because of it. Waiting for a phone call isn’t quite as restricting, but a wide time slot still has downsides. Promise to call within a particular hour or half hour of the day; bonus points if you set it up in a way that allows the customer to choose their time slot.

Be prepared. You’ve already asked for the details of the query, wouldn’t it be perfect to ring someone and immediately tell them how their problem will be solved? This is one of the key benefits of outbound customer service, so don’t miss out on it. It massively reduces AHT and gives a great boost to CX on top of it. Even if you aren’t certain on how to solve the query, have the questions you need to ask ready to go to save their time and your own.

Eliminate repetition. From our own data we’ve gathered whilst analysing thousands of contact centre conversations, we know that customers being made to repeat information they’ve already given elsewhere is one of the biggest causes of conflicts. If the customer has already given you details of their query online, don’t ask them for the same explanation (it goes without saying, this doesn’t apply to security questions).

So, give the control back to the contact centre agents and provide them with the best tools and information possible to manage demand, and enhance the customers’ experience.

Turning your cost centre into a profit centre

Beyond managing demand, outbound customer service has more meaningful benefits in the long-term. Too often contact centres are seen only as a required cost – we pay agents to sit and fight fires when a customer calls with a complaint. But what if you could turn this cost centre into a profit centre? The opportunity to build a deeper relationship with customers, and therefore increase their loyalty, is often overlooked in contact centres, particularly if their focus is with inbound contact.

Organisations are frequently willing to put a lot of their efforts into acquiring new customers, but with acquisition costing an average of 5x more than retention, it’s time to rethink. So, what are some ways we can use outbound service to impress our customers and build up that vital brand loyalty and reputation?

You have all the data available to you, so let’s start using it. You can see when a customer has signed up for your service or made a purchase, so why not set a reminder to give them a call in a few weeks and see what they think? Taking the time to get in touch and ask a customer how they’re doing provides a few vital opportunities that are otherwise missed:

  • Building a strong reputation – this all comes back to building that meaningful relationship with customers meaning they will come back to you time and time again. It’s been proven in various studies that the average consumer is even willing to pay a premium price if it means better customer service.
  • Gaining direct feedback on your service/product provides the perfect opportunity to create a feedback loop with your product team and continuously improve your offering, creating something customers will love.
  • Being able to fix problems before they’ve become a complaint or a lost customer. A lot of customers will not complain if they didn’t love your product/service, they simply won’t return. Using this method customers will be impressed by how proactive you’re being and are much more likely to give your organisation a second chance if something hasn’t lived up to their expectations.

Additionally to the points above, getting in touch with your customers provides a much better opportunity for cross-selling and upselling than if they were interacting with your company purely through a website or chatbots.

How are you differentiating yourself?

A question many organisations find themselves asking is ‘How do we make ourselves stand out from our competition?’. Particularly if you struggle to compete on price, the answer is to offer the best customer service you possibly can. Everything we’ve discussed about turning your contact centre into a profit centre works because by providing excellent outbound service you are going above and beyond when compared to many competitors, who are most likely still seeing outbound contact as being solely for sales, or not utilising it at all.

It's a great idea to set your contact centre up with a conversation guidance platform for this endeavor to help them ask the right questions and provide the best customer journey possible. We touched on this in our last Reinventing Outbound article, but it’s worth emphasising that expecting your inbound agents to switch and perform outbound calls might not be the best idea and will require a significant amount of coaching.

We have two recommendations – Option A is to create a new team within your contact centre(s) and hire specialised agents who solely perform outbound contact. Option B is to consider outsourcing by finding a quality contact centre outsourcer (emphasis on the ‘quality’, or you’ll end up doing more damage than good).

If you’re using these calls to gain valuable data, whether that’s through feedback, conversation analytics, or customer data for your CRM platform, then they are somewhat going to be paying for themselves. This is particularly true when considering the value of any customer retention and repeat business thanks to your improved service.

In conclusion…

Contact centres are often viewed as a place to fight fires rather than considering the root causes of consumer problems and customer churn. It’s time to stop looking at your contact centres as a necessary cost and start looking at the ways they can provide profit – whether it’s through customer retention, reputation building, or upselling.

  • Differentiate yourself by providing the best customer service and finding solutions before customers even know they need one.
  • Use outbound calling to manage demand and reduce the burden on your agents that are dealing with more urgent customer problems.
  • Capture as much data as possible whether it’s feedback about your own products or service or the customers, and your outbound calls will start paying for themselves.

This article was a write-up of our live discussion, ‘Reinventing Outbound: Service’. If you want to see the full discussion you can view the recording of it by clicking here.

About TMAC, FAB Solutions, and The Verity Centre

At TMAC we want to make every conversation valuable, and we believe human-to-human interactions augmented with AI will provide the best experience. Solve real problems with our three contact centre software solutions (Listen, Act & Learn), that put your customers front and centre by helping you listen to them, act on their preference, and coach your teams to success.

FAB Solutions have collectively over 50 years’ experience working in contact centres fixing broken processes, creating engaging people plans, and driving performance through effective use of people, process improvement and leadership development. FAB offer a range of solutions including outsourcing, consulting services, contact centre training & leaderships development. Click here to learn more about FAB.

The Verity Centre is a boutique contact centre, offering full OMNI Channel communication. Their services are personal and bespoke, offering a range of customised, tailormade services to support your particular market and specific needs. The Verity Centre is an extension of your brand; engaging and working with you in partnership to understand the nuances of your company and business objectives. Click here for The Verity Centre’s website.

Like a lot of websites, we use cookies to improve your experience using ours. By continuing you agree to our cookie policy.