Welcome to Issue 11 of Outbound Focus, a free email publication of Sytel Limited.
Short and sweet this month, with an emphasis on courtesy. We comment on the business of taking the ‘person’ out of ‘personal service’ with the rise of auto-messaging. Our guest contributor, meanwhile, works at putting the ‘relationship’ back into CRM!
Do you have strong views on any outbound issues? Our Champagne Challenge gives you an opportunity to be heard!
In This Issue
- INDUSTRY UPDATE
Get The Message?
- TIP OF THE MONTH
- CANDY STORE
More to lighten the load
Get The Message?
We have had a lot of feedback recently from around the world on outbound dialing matters, from countries not typically in the mainstream of outbound dialing, including Taiwan, Brazil and Japan. One thing these countries all have in common is that few of their consumers have been touched so far by an outbound call, and so in terms of best practice, they are all on a steep learning curve.
One encouraging thing we noticed in all three cases is a strong interest in treating the consumer as someone to be respected, rather than as just an entry on a calling list.
Which is not to say that some bad habits haven’t crept in. In one of these countries we found a lot of enthusiasm for cold calling people and playing them a message, extolling the virtues of whatever is being sold that day. It may be OK when the first company does it. It’s novel and exciting – and maybe you were chosen because they have something really special for you. But it quickly palls, as other vendors jump on the same bandwagon. We don’t see this as a major growth activity anywhere and would like to see the US, which is probably the ‘home’ of this kind of calling, take a tougher line against it. We think the vast majority of its citizens might appreciate it.
Talking of which, did you spot the recent takeoff of ‘auto-dial evangelism’ in California. Apparently 400,000 homes were reached in a single week. Click here for the full story. If you have strong views, either for or against this kind of activity, and can articulate them well, then we encourage you to take up the Champagne Challenge.
(Write for Outbound Focus, win a crate of Champagne! Visit the Champagne Challenge section of our website for more details)
Predictive Dialers and Steam Valves
What do these things have in common? Not much you might think. But think again.
“In the past, and still in some cases today, when too many calls have been dialed, then a (predictive) dialer chooses from which valve to vent its surplus steam, or in other words get rid of the calls that it doesn’t need. Two of the three valves for doing this are now closed or being closed, leaving just calls abandoned (which must happen quickly) by the dialer…If you take a system that produces a constant amount of steam, surplus to its requirements, and shut off a couple of the valves, you can see what will happen. It will all come bursting out from the remaining valve.”
To read the full article, and perhaps improve your understanding of predictive dialing, see the article in the July issue of Customer Interface Europe, written by our CEO, Michael McKinlay.
A Word of Praise
We don’t normally refer to email services or vendors, but if any of our readers want to dial into a rich vein of call center gossip and strong views, then we can recommend Phil Green and Rod Jones at S.A. Telelink. These folk operate down in South Africa, and we think they do a great job, given their small hinterland. It’s a good reminder that the Southern Hemisphere is not all ocean and wild animals
TIP OF THE MONTH
This month’s tip arrives hot off the wire from Arizona, US. Doug Helvig is Call Center Director/Consultant for Cohen Brown Management, Inc. With over 20 years experience in the financial services industry, Doug works with call centers around the world to help improve performance through sales and service behavioral training. Here he speaks on the importance of being human!
How many times have you heard someone either joking or complaining about dinnertime calls from telemarketers? The interruption is rarely welcomed, which is why I’ve trained my 6 year-old daughter to answer the phone. This cuts down on the time I have to spend speaking to ill-equipped telemarketers, and she thinks it’s fun!
The challenge confronting most telemarketing firms today is that they haven’t been successful in hiring the right people for the job – people whose personalities are naturally outgoing, friendly, sincere and courteous.
To compound the problem, they’re not effectively training their employees in what to say, and how to say it. Rather, they put a ‘canned’ script on a screen and instruct the telemarketer just to read what’s there. This ‘robotizes’ the employee, and the resulting interaction with the client/prospect is stilted, rather than compelling. Most importantly, this mode of operation requires little thinking or learning on the part of the telemarketer, which should be an integral part of the telemarketing process.
I recently received a call from a Time-Life telemarketer, who began with this:
“Doug! This is Bob from Time-Life. What’s goin’ on, man?”
Now, I hadn’t met this guy or talked to him before, but he treated me like a long-lost friend who was thrilled to reach me. He explained that there was a new set of CD’s out and I was on the list of the first to hear about it. While some might not care for his approach, he effectively used his natural outgoing personality, along with great communication skills. I have no doubt that he pre-scripted, himself, what he was going to say, because he was well prepared to respond to my objections. Throughout the call he remained warm, personable, and genuine.
In contrast, my bank called me a few weeks ago with a credit card offer. This is MY bank. They have my money – not much, but it is pretty important to me. After painfully stumbling through my name, the Telemarketer began to read from a script. When I interrupted with an objection, there was dead silence. After a moment, the telemarketer said,
“I understand how you feel Mr. Hevlin… Halving… Helving”
(the name is Helvig) and then, he continued to read from the script!
Effective communication skills have a lot to do with style – not just what you say, but how you say it, utilizing your own personality (which is the essence of who you are).
The ability to project a positive personality and a compelling message on the phone in a clear and confident manner depends upon several elements:
- A consultative style rather than just a litany of content
- genuine sincerity
- telephone etiquette (“may I ask..?”, “if I might suggest..”, “shall we..?”)
When telemarketers are
- clear about their message
- confident about what they’re selling
- and gracious
their credibility and effectiveness as a salesperson – indeed, as a human being – substantially increases. The good news is that people with the right personality can be trained to master all of the elements of communication that are required to dramatically increase desired results.
Selling is the ultimate form of service, no matter what the product or service, so the next time your phone rings during dinner, take the time to listen carefully to the caller’s communication skills and style – or, you can always hand the phone to your 6 year-old
Many thanks to Doug Helvig for his contribution.
If you are a leading outbound specialist, why not enter the Champagne Challenge by contributing to our Tip of the Month column? Just send us an email.
And speaking of telephone etiquette…
One of the major US banks has implemented a policy of picking up the phone within 3 rings and answer courteously. The bank has commissioned an outbound agency to police this and on a certain day the bank’s executive sponsoring this initiative visits the call center.
The executive seems mightily pleased at the work the agents are doing calling up branches at random and asks if he can use the technology.
Once the supervisor has shown the exec how to use a handset, he takes his first call:
|Exec:||(incredulous) Is that the Brooklyn branch?|
|Branch:||Yeah, now whaddya want?|
|Exec:||(imperiously) Young man, do you know to whom you are speaking?|
|Branch:||Who cares? Do YOU know to whom YOU’RE talking to?|
|Exec:||(fuming) NO, but…|
|Branch:||GOOD! (Rings off)|
Know any outbound anecdotes? Send us an email.