DSC Tech Library
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to Predictive Dialers and Auto Dialer software and products.
The PACER and Wizard phone systems are PC based call center phone systems that are recognized as premier inbound and outbound computer telephony systems. Features such as automatic call distribution (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR) and call recording have added a new dimension to the predictive dialer and auto dialer capabilities of these systems. These computer based dialing systems can perform various types of auto dialing campaigns simultaneously. These types include Predictive Dialing, Progressive Dialing, Preview Dialing and Dial on Demand.
Do you have all the processes for optimized outbound campaigns?
By: Mariane L'Ecuyer, Manager of Consulting services at Elix
Outbound contact center managers face an array of challenges. Managing everything from employees and IT call solutions to business strategies and processes, today’s managers have become multidisciplinarians, always on the lookout for new formulas and best industry practices. It is with this in mind that Elix decided to gather the Best Practices and Golden Rules of various outbound contact centers, from the telemarketing and collection perspective.
This is the first article in a series that seeks to guide outbound contact center managers in optimizing their soliciting activities. The series will tackle various contact center challenges, such as segmentation strategies, dialer productivity optimization, resource management, and tools. This first article discusses the best practices for creating and segmenting calling lists for an effective outbound campaign.
SEGMENTING LISTS — WHY BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
We all know that the calling list can make or break an outbound campaign; that is why we decided to start our series of articles with this key subject. Contact centers often use a single, bulky calling list. This list is usually divided, or segmented, into several campaigns. All companies segment their contacts to a certain extent to create campaigns or sublists. Nevertheless, our studies have shown that the size of a calling list within a given campaign can vary from 1,000 to 150,000 contacts, according to the circumstances and the business. A well-segmented list can produce excellent results, improve your relationship with your customers, and provide both motivation and satisfaction for your contact center agents.
Calling list segmentation is ideally done at two levels: marketing and contact center. Marketing is responsible for creating the master list of existing customers or prospects. While marketing list segmentation can optimize the campaign’s success, contact center list segmentation allows the proper allocation of agent groups and sublists, which enables some elements to be divided and measured precisely and thus feed statistics back to the marketing team. This feedback gives marketing the opportunity to analyze and better segment future campaign lists. The first segmentation done by the marketing team is based primarily on demographic factors and past purchasing behavior. Given the money invested in telemarketing, and the very limited number of times customers can be targeted, no strikes are allowed. Choosing the best time and matching the best offer to the most likely customers is an art and an important contributing factor in accelerating the profitability of these initiatives. For this reason, more and more organizations are using Marketing Automation solutions that use predictive algorithms about customer buying behavior to create lists for a given promotion.
The second segmentation, done at the contact center level, divides each promotion into distinct campaigns and sublists based on various criteria like language, geography, and promotions. These campaigns can then be assigned to agent groups with the appropriate or specialized skills to handle them.
LIST AND CAMPAIGN LIFE CYCLE — WHY IT‘S ALL ABOUT TIMING
Now that you have your outbound campaign list, knowing how to cover the list is essential. Properly timing the length of the campaign is crucial. To optimize the predictive aspect of the calling strategies, the average length of a campaign should never be less than 2 to 3 hours. It is thus vital to avoid over-segmenting your campaign. On the other hand, the life span of a list should not extend beyond three weeks, because customers called toward the end of the campaign may already have bought the product or service in question, or may have been targeted in a cross-selling effort during their last inbound calls.
Very long lists can limit the ability of contact center and marketing managers to be proactive, because it is difficult for them to measure the relevance and quality of the contacts on the list before it is completed. Furthermore, towards the end of all lists, the quality of remaining contacts and productivity deteriorate. Thus, if the list is very large, the period near the end of it can extend over several hours, which can affect agent focus, sap their motivation, and significantly reduce productivity because of the longer wait time between calls. The shorter the list, the more these unproductive periods can be limited. In the collection environment, calling lists must be even shorter to take into account the daily payments made by customers without the intervention of outbound collection calls. The lists must either be the appropriate size to cover one day of outbound collection calls or, if a bigger list is chosen, it must be refreshed each day.
Contact center and marketing managers often have to stop an outbound campaign when a promotion ends, even if it means abandoning a good list. Evaluating the right number of contacts in a list for a given promotion will optimize the sales ratio and helps avoid situations where a good list has to be abandoned because a promotion has ended.
GOLDEN, NOT MAGICAL, RULES
Contact centers differ in size, purpose, business type, and technological tools, making it impossible and undesirable to prescribe a rigid set of rules or behaviors that guarantee successful campaigns. There are, however, certain “guidelines”, which result from common sense and in-depth experience, and which can be recommended as Golden Rules. These are:
The size of a list must be calculated according to the number of agents, call length, and calling hours, and not just according to the number of contacts.
It is important to have a central calling list large enough to allow segmentation into campaigns or sublists within a campaign, but not large enough to stretch over several weeks of calls.
When it comes to solicitation, less is more. For existing customers, it is preferable not to solicit by telephone more than four times per year, while for all direct marketing communications, an organization should not be soliciting more than eight times per year.
There are no magical rules that can guarantee success, but keeping the Best Practices and Golden Rules in mind when creating and segmenting lists and when creating and assigning agent groups will ensure that managers can track the progress and outcome of their campaigns and will go a long way toward ensuring that resources are motivated and satisfied. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Creating and segmenting your list is where you need to invest most of your time, so you can reap all the benefits of your outbound campaign.
Mariane L'Ecuyer is Manager of Consulting services at Elix, an organization with over 16 years of expertise in contact center technologies and operations. To contact the author: email@example.com, or 1-877-909-3549, or www.elixonline.com.