Call center campaigns are vital to any organization. A small business may have 2 employees answering the phones while a large corporation may have multiple offices with hundreds of agents handling calls every day. Creating and running effective call center campaigns is one way of managing call center operations, regardless of size and complexity.
A call center campaign may not seem like a big deal when it comes to the company as a whole. However, call centers perform crucial functions including:
A call center’s strategy might be something like ‘focus on continuous innovation and improve the customer experience.’ While that works great as a mission statement, it can be hard to quantify in a meaningful way. Does continuous mean you will change processes every day? It may not be a good idea as your agents will struggle to work as things change. How do you know any changes have improved the customer experience? This is where call center campaigns can be useful.
A call center campaign is a collective and dedicated effort to improve sales or customer service by segmenting calls according to specific criteria. It consists of a series of activities focused on specific types of calls such as customers in a particular area code, potential leads who have expressed an interest in the brand, etc.
Let us break down the definition of a call center campaign to understand what it means and how it is different from regular call center operations.
A typical campaign includes all or most of the employees in the call center, although larger offices may run more than one campaign simultaneously. Managers need to plan the campaign using certain resources (agents, calling scripts, customer information, etc.) and have a specific goal. A campaign will have an end date and metrics to measure progress towards the goal.
A call center campaign is distinct from regular operations.
Suppose a call center uses extensions so agents can redirect customer calls correctly. This is considered to be regular operations and not part of a campaign as it does not have a start or end date. There is no goal to meet or exceed and no way to measure metrics to see progress. A few calls might be monitored to make sure agents are transferring calls correctly but the process will not be reviewed unless something goes wrong (customers complain about being transferred to the wrong person/department, too many transfers, or similar issues).
A campaign, on the other hand, needs specific activities and goals to be effective and needs to show results.
A typical campaign might be to generate leads for a product through cold calling. It will have a start and end date, say 3 months. The goal is to generate X amount of leads per month. The call center manager will plan specific activities such as using cold calling scripts and reaching out to potential customers via cold call lists. At the end of every month, there could be a meeting to review progress toward the goal and to make changes if necessary.
Campaigns are very important for a call center. One reason is that it allows you to measure progress and also shows the importance of an effective call center. While everyone agrees that call centers are necessary to handle customer queries or provide technical support, managers may need to justify the need for additional budget or to get new technology. The results from a successful campaign help you showcase call center performance to management.
Another reason is that it allows you to organize the call center according to different requirements. Call centers are configured according to the needs of the business which means a single office may have multiple teams organized around different goals. Sometimes organizations outsource call center management to expert third-party vendors. In that case, a single call center may serve multiple clients. A call center campaign allows managers to effectively use available resources to reach the goal.
Finally call center campaigns are useful to optimize the talent and skills of individual agents while maximizing profitability or improving the customer experience. It provides a set of visible goals that employees can strive to achieve and gain rewards when they get there.
Call center campaigns are mainly grouped into two categories namely outbound campaigns and inbound campaigns.
While both have some similarities, the differences are crucial to note. For one thing, outbound and inbound campaigns have different goals. While the former is more about generating leads and sales i.e, sales-driven, inbound campaigns are customer-driven and aimed more at improving customer satisfaction.
Another difference is metrics. Outbound campaigns may have call quotas to fulfill and count the number of leads generated as a measure of success. Inbound campaigns will focus more on First Call Resolution or keeping the average handling time as low as possible, etc.
These campaigns also require different skills on the part of agents to move forward. Agents tasked with driving outbound calls need to be persuasive and have extensive knowledge of the product or service they aim to sell. Agents involved with inbound campaigns may need technical expertise to resolve customer queries and show patience when dealing with angry or obstinate customers on the phone.
Both types of campaigns will need a different set of tools and the corresponding calling scripts. Outbound campaigns will encounter obstacles such as unwilling prospects, trying to set up meetings between salespeople and the clients, and trying to cold call prospects at a convenient time. Inbound campaigns don’t have to worry about calling clients but they do need to think about how to handle irate customers and provide a quick resolution so customers don’t switch to a competitor’s product.
As described earlier, inbound campaigns focus on the customer experience and are service-based for the most part. The typical metrics used to measure success would be customer satisfaction, customer retention rates, revenue, etc. Customers will call your helpline for help with any issue they are facing and it’s your agents’ job to resolve those queries.
The most common type of inbound campaigns are:
Technical support campaigns are vital when your products or service involve technology. These support queries are often more complex than general support and your agents need to have a certain level of technical expertise to resolve them. Each customer call tends to be different based on the situation and they often take much longer to resolve than simple queries like order shipping status.
For such campaigns, managers may want to create two or more tiers of tech support. The frontline agents can handle straightforward issues and they can escalate to a more experienced agent if they cannot resolve the issue either due to complexity or lack of time.
If you have multiple products and services within your portfolio, it may also be advantageous to segment your incoming calls based on the type of question. For instance, calls about product A could be routed to agents who are more familiar with it thus increasing the First Call Resolution (FCR) rate.
This kind of segmentation has multiple benefits. It reduces the average call time as expert agents can resolve issues much quicker than those less skilled. Resolving issues quickly benefit the customer and reduce the wait time for the next person in line. It saves time for your customers as they don’t have to wait on hold while the agent tries to find an answer to their query or have to transfer the call to someone who can help them. Improved customer satisfaction can open up opportunities for sales further down the line.
Customer service campaigns focus on general queries about products, services, and account information. Based on the size of your market, you may receive hundreds of phone calls every day. How you handle them will impact customer satisfaction and retention.
Once again, call segmentation can work wonders. You can focus on calls coming from high-value customers or those that have been buying from you for years. If your clients are other businesses rather than consumers, you can prioritize high-value contracts over others.
Another way to handle a large volume of general support queries is to use auto attendant options, IVR queues, and smart routing. The auto attendant can answer the basic queries such as order and account status, outstanding dues or balance information, and even recite your office hours/sales events while the customer is waiting on hold. This option provides quick answers to customers who don’t need to talk to an agent and frees up staff time to handle more complex queries.
IVR queues and smart routing can help direct calls to the correct department based on the option selected by the caller and the skills of your employees. This minimizes the chances of multiple transfers and callers can speak to the person most likely to resolve their query. For example, you can ask callers to press 1 for order status, 2 for returns, 3 for reservations, etc.
Inbound sales campaigns focus on converting interested customers into making a purchase. Such campaigns usually go hand in hand with advertising or marketing campaigns. When you provide a phone number in those advertisements, customers are bound to call in with inquiries, requests for more information, and even place orders. Why spend money on ads if you don’t follow up and convert those leads into sales?
Many businesses run simultaneous marketing campaigns on several channels such as print, television, radio, internet ads, etc. Instead of using the same phone number on each ad, you can use different numbers to track the number of calls made in response to a specific campaign. This way, you can track the ROI (return on investment) to determine whether to re-use the channel next time.
Agents should have in-depth knowledge of your products and services so they can counter any second thoughts and convert the interested callers into customers. Unlike customer service and technical support campaigns which focus on the service experience (indirectly leading to increased sales and revenues), these campaigns directly contribute to your bottom line.
Outbound campaigns are sales-driven and involve trying to gather potential leads, update customer information in your CRM database, and close deals. Rather than customers calling your business phone number, your agents will reach out to potential customers. The typical metrics to measure success include sales numbers, revenue, number of leads generated, etc.
Cold calling campaigns involve calling people who have not expressed any interest in your products or services. While it can be daunting, the right tools and skillset can open up new opportunities for your sales teams. The success of a cold calling campaign depends on the quality of your cold calling lists. Whether it’s a list you have compiled or purchased from another entity, it’s important to verify the information therein before calling a customer.
Your employees should be very patient and have the right calling scripts when cold calling. An automated dialer can also be extremely helpful, reducing the chances of making errors when calling out. Many businesses prefer to use cold calling to build a list of potential customers rather than try to close the sale in one phone call.
Warm outreach campaigns focus on calling potential customers who have shown an interest in your products and services. They may have signed up for your newsletter, left a comment on your blog, or requested a product demo. These calls rarely result in a sale, the intent is to gather more information about the customer and their requirements. A salesperson will follow up with a call or meeting later to convert the lead.
The conversation aims to gauge if the customer has accurate information about your products and services. The agent also needs to verify if their needs, budget, or requirements have changed. Updating this information in your CRM allows sales teams to assess potential sales opportunities and have more data on the customer’s needs.
The best form of marketing is said to be word of mouth, where the potential customer is interested in your services due to a recommendation from a trusted source (friends, family, etc.) Reaching out to leads based on referrals from your existing customer base is a very effective call center campaign. The potential customer already has a favorable view of your organization and is often close to signing off on a contract or purchase. These campaigns have a higher chance of converting to sales with one or two calls.
Agents need to have a thorough knowledge of your products and the ability to judge the customer’s needs accurately. This enables them to answer any questions or objections to the sale quickly. Calling scripts that address the most common obstacles is a great help in such situations.
A survey campaign is meant to capture customer responses and get feedback from them. The agents on the phone are often tasked with:
Generally, the information gained from such campaigns is used to create better business strategies and future call center campaigns.
As the above list of campaigns illustrates, the goals for a call center campaign can vary depending on the business and type of campaign. The most important thing about call center campaign goals is to make sure you have a method to analyze the progress towards completion of the goal.
Just saying you want to improve customer satisfaction is quite vague and how do you know if you’ve achieved it or not? A better way to set goals is by identifying issues in your current processes and running a campaign to improve performance in that area.
For instance, suppose your customers have complained about getting transferred multiple times to resolve issues. You can focus on your first call resolution numbers as a metric in this case. A goal of improving the FCR from 60% to 75% in 3 months is a much better goal for a call center campaign.
How often do you need to measure campaign progress? A call center campaign may have more than one metric for success. Depending on the campaign length it is prudent to keep an eye on metrics and measure periodically. That way you’re not scrambling at the last moment to catch up if the numbers are low.
Suppose your metric is to get FC to 75% over 6 months. As a manager, you implement certain activities to change the current metric (60%). At the end of the first month, you realize the changes are not working as the metric shows 62%. You can adjust tactics accordingly to make sure you’re on track for success.
Call center campaign goals should be SMART. It stands for
You do not have to limit yourself to one metric, you may need to measure several metrics to quantify success. However, ensure that the metrics are relevant to the campaign. A sales-based metric like lead conversion is not relevant to a technical support campaign.
Every call center campaign requires a different set of processes and tasks to be successful. But there are a few tools you need for every campaign. As a manager, you need to ensure that your agents have the right tools and technology to be successful at their jobs. Using a flexible and scalable VoIP phone system that integrates with other enterprise tools like your CRM is practically a necessity.
A modern VoIP phone service will provide a lot of additional features that can help your call center campaign, regardless of type. IVR, auto-attendant, call forwarding, music on hold, etc. are just a few examples. Having the right calling scripts for every situation and fully utilizing all the tools you already have will also help your employees be successful
No matter how experienced or skilled your employees are, they could always use additional training to improve their knowledge base. Your initial onboarding and training should do a good job of introducing new agents to their roles. But you still need to identify gaps and adjust training according to the individual staff needs.
Training does not have to be limited to formal meetings and sessions. An employee wiki, attending seminars, written papers, or video instructions are other means of training agents on your products, services, and processes.
Your phone agents will have numerous tasks to complete over a typical day. Why burden them with routine tasks if you can automate them? Basic processes like dialing out, adding notes to a customer record in the CRM, and others can be automated with the right system. Free your agents from having to do mundane tasks and allow them to focus on getting results.
No call center campaign can be successful without access to accurate and timely data. To this end, you need to ensure that your databases and call lists are verified and have the data you need. Many call centers routinely contact customers to update their records or purchase detailed demographic information from third-party vendors to add to their databases. This step allows you to start from a position of strength and not waste time correcting/editing information over and over again.
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