Get proactive with outbound, multi-channel customer interaction

Proactive outbound is a platform for outbound customer engagement which goes beyond telephone-based cold calling to encompass “warm calling”, email, SMS, web chat, mobile app, instant messaging, and social media communications.

Organisations that contact their customers proactively benefit from reduced churn, greater share of wallet and revenue growth. Further, customer experience improves when customers receive personalised, relevant information, at convenient times of day and through familiar channels. Selecting the right technology is key to unleashing the benefits of proactive outbound communications.

Be proactive across multiple channels

Outbound customer engagement has evolved from telephone-based cold calling in the eighties to email marketing since the nineties and, more recently, web chat and social media channels in addition to SMS and phone-based “warm calling”. Types of proactive outbound contact include:

  • Welcome calls – giving new customers a personalised, warm welcome
  • Cross-selling – pitching more products or services to existing customers
  • Reminders – notification of appointments and events to increase attendance rates
  • Marketing offers – ad hoc campaign offers and deals
  • Lead calls – contacting potential customers who made an enquiry on a website or via email
  • Surveys – gathering feedback and opinions from customers
  • Debt recovery and collections – following up customers for overdue payments
  • Thank you calls – to show you appreciate the customer’s business

The true benefit of proactive outbound lies in the seamless adoption of multiple channels to meet different business objectives and customer communication preferences.

Extend the reach of your contact centre with outbound capability across multiple channels

Multi-channel use cases

Here are a few examples of how an organisation can optimise productivity and customer experience by leveraging multiple channels in outbound campaigns:

  • A charity can use outbound dialling to call donors and when someone pledges a donation a follow-up text message or email is scheduled two days later if payment hasn’t yet been received.
  • An SMS campaign directs respondents to a phone number which is answered by an IVR system, automating data collection.
  • An appointment reminder is delivered via a recorded message using predictive dialling. DTMF is then used to direct the recipient of the call to “press one” to confirm or “two” to reschedule.

Let’s review some features of each outbound channel.

PhoneHigh-volume outbound contact centres typically use a dialler to increase efficiency. A dialler enables you to upload a list of people to call and then automatically dials each record. Diallers have “predictive”, “progressive” or “preview” modes. Predictive dialling is suited to high-volume, simple consumer campaigns, where the agent doesn’t need to review the customer’s profile before initiating a conversation. The dialler does not present a call to the agent unless someone answers the phone, thus weeding out busy signals, answering machines and ring-outs. While predictive dialling is highly efficient and automated, it can leave agents feeling breathless and overwhelmed if not managed well. Preview mode provides relief by allowing the agent to click on a record when he or she is ready. This may be preferred when careful preview of the customer’s profile is needed to optimise the chances of a sale, or the agent has to navigate a receptionist to reach the decision-maker contact. Progressive dialling is the “in-between” mode – as soon as the agent finishes a call, the system dials the next one, but the agent hears the ringing and therefore any problem with the customer hearing a dead line when they answer is eliminated.
EmailOutbound email is facilitated by a standard “mail merge” feature in a mail client or a dedicated enterprise mailing list application, including cloud-based services. The more dedicated the system the more likely it is to support personalisation and integration with various content sources, like a CRM system. Email works well for outbound communications where there is a lot to tell in one message. The most effective email campaigns are personalised to the recipient. Companies should also have consent to contact the customer to ensure compliance with regulations such as GDPR.
SMSTo send targeted SMS messages, look at dedicated delivery services which handle the messages (text and MMS) and allow data integration with other online systems. On-premises GSM appliances are also an option for SMS delivery however cloud-based software is more usually deployed these days. SMS is renowned for having a higher response rate than email, but make sure the notification is worthwhile to avoid annoying your customers.
Social mediaFacebook, Twitter and Instagram have their own ecosystem of tools and services which can be used for proactive outbound marketing. Modern cloud-based contact centre platforms include a variety of social networks in their multi-channel capabilties.
Instant messagingMuch like social media channels, once you have connected with a customer via a messaging app like Messenger or Whatsapp, you have a direct and incredibly personal line to their pocket (quite literally!). Today these channels are usually integrated via your cloud contact centre platform’s multi-channel orchestration suite.
Mobile app notificationsIf your organisation has an app then the notification capability of Android and iOS-based smartphones is another means to proactively alert customers. Once a customer has installed your app you can push marketing and call-to-action messages to them at will. Don’t overuse it though, otherwise they will silence alerts or (even worse) uninstall your app.
Web chatWhile usually associated with customer service or support, web chat can be used as a marketing mechanism to capture leads or present offers to web site visitors. The key with web chat is to be proactive rather than pushy, and relevant rather than random.

Getting smart about outbound with analytics

An outbound contact centre that utilises predictive strategies for contacting customers can significantly improve the number of right-party contacts (RPCs), sales and overall revenue. For example, incorporating best time to call analytics into the strategy can improve RPCs by at least 10 to 30 per cent.

“With analytics tools, outbound contact centres can predict the best time and the best method for contacting customers.”

Real-time speech analytics can provide further advantages as interactions can be screened while the conversation is taking place. This allows the agent to respond more proactively to the customer’s situation – such as prompting the agent to present a cross-sell or up-sell offer.

The best business outcomes come about when the agent has access to timely and relevant information on the person they are calling. For example, a data feed to an agent can include purchasing history, previous interactions on a web property, mobile app usage and transcripts from previous calls. Intelligent data feeds can help determine the type of offers the customer would be most interested in and the customer’s preferred channel. With more intelligence, a company can make more sales with fewer contact attempts. Further, the customer is more engaged and finds more value in the offers received. 

Features to look for in proactive outbound technology

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Last updated on: April 23, 2023