In the realm of the contact center, keeping down the cost of outbound calls is a primary focus. The goal should always be to manage outbound call cost with customer experience quality. Getting the balance right means implementing a multi-pronged approach that optimizes agents, support staff, technology and training.
Start with a Call Calculation
Contact center managers and executives alike are driven to maximize revenue generated from outbound calls. The more sales, the more revenue. But, there’s more to the story. Achieving true bottom line profits from an outbound call center requires understanding all the costs of every outbound call. This requires an accurate calculation of one of the most important call center metrics –cost per call. Here’s how you can calculate cost per call:
- Create a list of all your outbound call center agents.
- Determine a time period in which you’ll calculate the cost per call. For example, it could be an hour, a day, a week or even a longer period like a quarter or year. Let’s delve into the cost per outbound call per hour.
- Identify the number of calls each agent handles during an average shift and divide that number by the number of hours an agent works.
- Now, drill down further by listing the average number of calls made by each agent per week and their wages.
- Choose one agent by random and determine the average number of calls they’ve made during a one-hour period. To get this number, look at the average number of calls the agent made during a day and divide by the number of hours he or she works.
- Now, to determine the cost per call, take the agent’s wage and divide it by the average number of calls made during an hour. For example, an agent gets $20 an hour. To determine the cost per call, divide the $20 an hour by the number of calls made per hour. If they make 10 calls on average per hour, the cost per call for this agent is $2.00.
- To determine your contact center’s cost per call, repeat steps five and six for each agent and divide the result by the average calls made by the contact center.
Now that you have your baseline cost per call, you can begin to look for ways to reduce it without sacrificing the experience your customers receive. The following are some ways that you can achieve this:
Focus on Training
It’s simply a fact that almost all outbound contact centers have higher than desired turnover rates. One of the best ways to minimize the significant expense of ongoing hiring and onboarding is to train agents effectively from the start. Employees,who are well-trained and have access to the knowledge they need to succeed,are happier employees who are more committed to staying on the job. They also help reduce call times and improve your sales per hour.
Keeping the cost of calls down requires keeping the quality of calls high. Training helps, but that’s still not enough. Live call monitoring is important for offering constructive feedback to agents to help them improve the efficiency and quality of their calls. Sometimes, catching one minor weakness and correcting it can result in a significant improvement in either customer experience or sales success.
Align with Sales and Marketing
If your outbound call team is responsible for generating sales, it’s vitally important that they have the necessary information to successfully sell. This includes ensuring they have access to a valid and up-to-date CRM database for and all the necessary details on the campaign or offer being promoted.
Providing the right incentives to outbound contact center agents can dramatically improve both energy and productivity. Of course, commission and bonuses are highly popular and generally successful ways to provide incentive. However, they’re by no means the only ways to create a culture for success. In fact, there are many non-monetary rewards and benefits that can also help reduce outbound call cost, improve morale and decrease employee churn.
For example, incorporating a place for public praise, such as an “Agent of the Month” award that is visible for the team to see,can be a meaningful way to recognize agents in front of their peers. Peer awards and peer recognition are also way to encourage public praise. Providing opportunities to recognize fellow team members who are going above-and-beyond can encourage team spirit and greater productivity. Time off is another popular reward. Consider incorporating days off as a reward for achieving certain goals or KPIs.
Send Compelling Proactive Messages and Reminders
Finally,it’s important to consider the value of automated outbound messages and reminders that can serve as a highly effective and affordable alternative to agent-assisted,outbound calls. Not all outbound notifications have to be executed by a live agent, and many messages are more successfully delivered via a proactive outbound notification and reminder solution than by a live agent. Proactive messages and reminders can be created using pre-recorded audio and text-to-speech data and sent out via automated SMS or outbound voice calls.
These forms of proactive outreach can be used to remind customers of upcoming appointments and payment deadlines. They also are helpful for sending out time-sensitive information with custom messages, like information on upcoming sales or promotions or for sending out mass updates to hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously. Looking for feedback from customers? Providing a customer survey immediately after an interaction via an automated reminder increases take rates and provides more honest and accurate data.
Reminders and messages can even be personalized. This capability is especially successful for pushing out custom offers or scannable coupons. This level of personalization increases both brand loyalty and more sales.
Outbound calling still holds an important place in many businesses. The key to ensuring its value is managing outbound call costs and having the right mix of agents, technology and training to make every call a success.