Welcome to Issue 04 of Outbound Focus, a free email publication of Sytel Limited.
In This Issue
- TECHNOLOGY CORNER
Going predictive on B2B campaigns
- TIP OF THE MONTH
Provided by Patrick Tan
- INDUSTRY UPDATE
Some items from our postbag
- CANDY STORE
A lighter call center moment
Here’s the note we promised in April on business to business calling.
Conventional wisdom is that if you are doing B2B calling, you should not use predictive dialing. There’s some truth in this, but it really does depend on the kind of B2B campaign you are running.
The first thing to do is to analyse your call outcomes and durations. The first class of calls below doesn’t lend itself to predictive dialing. The second class does. As an approximation, the more calls in the second group, the better the case for predictive dialing. Or, if some of the calls in the first group have very small durations as far as agent involvement is concerned, this again helps the predictive case.
(i) Calls involving agents
- live call put through to agent
- voicemail system, with menu options, where agent spends time leaving a message, or making selections in search of ‘right party’
- answering machine, with message left by agent
(ii) Calls not involving agents, or with very short duration
- voicemail system with menu options, at which point the call is dropped by agent, or dialer
- answering machine, with immediate termination by agent, or dialer
- Ring no answer (RNA)
- Other e.g. busies, number unobtainable, network busy, etc.
Also take account of
- Numbers of agents.
The more agents, the better the case for predictive dialing.
- Preview calls.
For some B2B calling, you will need to book calls in preview mode, because of the established relationship between the person being called and a particular agent. Most CRM solutions should enable these calls to be included within a ‘predictive’ campaign.
This is the broad picture of the elements you need to work with. In practice, there is no substitute of course for doing some modelling or simulation to see whether your own particular mix of variables will deliver predictive benefits. There are a number of tools available in the marketplace for this purpose.
For those of you who have just groaned at this point and said ‘give us some easy answers’ – well there are none, because B2B campaigns are so variable – unless of course your calls fall mainly in (i) above, and/or your agent levels on campaigns are in single figures. You’ll be hard-pressed to get predictive benefits under these conditions.
Otherwise, you may want to do some more detailed analysis.
Some readers have asked us about devices/solutions for B2B that apparently provide each agent with their own ‘predictive’ campaign, with 2 dedicated lines per agent. We don’t comment on specific vendor solutions in Outbound Focus, but here are two comments on this kind of solution:
- You cannot go predictive at the one agent level. A lot depends on the efficiency of the dialer being used, but as a rule, expect very little benefit under 5 agents on a campaign.
- Dedicating 2 external lines to an agent is overkill, if you are going to dial within responsible limits. If you are not, then why stop at 2? Why not go for 5 or 6 lines per agent? No! We are kidding. But unfortunately, there are people looking for such solutions, and we fielded one such enquiry ourselves recently.
As usual, we are very happy to give editorial space to anyone wanting to offer alternative opinions. Just send us an email.
TIP OF THE MONTH
This month we are very pleased to welcome Patrick Tan, president of Innovax Systems Pte. Ltd. in Singapore. We asked Patrick to give us a bird’s eye view of outbound in S.E. Asia, and a forecast of where that market is headed.
S.E. Asia Facts
Population: 503 million
Area: 5 million sq. kilometers, combined gross domestic product of US$737 billion, and a total trade of US$720 billion
Languages: English, Thai, Malay, Bahasa Indonesia, Tagalog, Chinese and Indian dialects, Burmese, Lao and Vietnamese
Strategies for Effective and Successful Outbound in S.E. Asia
by Patrick Tan
The use of the latest technologies in outbound telephony in S.E. Asia is still in its infancy compared with the U.S. or Europe. This is due in part to the unique characteristics of the people, culture and business practices in the region. A better understanding of these characteristics is crucial to successful outbound campaigns.
Training and Implementation
The leading and latest technologies for outbound telephony are definitely available. However, what is lacking is the systematic and effective training and implementation of these technologies in call centers. The issues of customization and localization of the systems and solutions, and the effective training of the agents in call centers need to be appropriately addressed and implemented so as to provide for a quality call. Computer telephony, including dialer technologies, provides powerful tools for business marketing and customer acquisition. However, it is well trained people and good customization and localization that are the most powerful ingredients for getting and keeping satisfied customers.
Targeted and Customized Marketing
Telemarketing in S.E. Asia is still a new concept to many and in some of the lesser developed countries in the region, ownership of a phone means being in the upper middle income class. This presents great potential for telemarketers for a more focused target marketing. Countries in this region also experience good year- round weather with few seasonalities and, because of this, physical shopping is the norm. However, if consumers feel that they are getting better information, value and convenience with their telephone transactions and on-line shopping, then the industry is poised to grow. To do this, benefit marketing must be practiced, in the form of saving consumer commuting time and money, and enhancing the buying experience. Good customized operator scripts with the cultural attributes of the target market in mind are also important.
Ethical Telemarketing and Permission Lists
Unlike the U.S. or Europe, many homes have only one telephone line, regardless of the number of people in the household. If campaigns are targeted at individuals and not households, then reaching specific individuals living in joint families will have to be properly planned. Mobile phone ownership in the region across all age groups is one of the highest in the world and this trend is increasing. There are already plans with mobile companies in some countries to provide free incoming calls to mobile users. We expect telemarketers to take advantage of this to enable directed marketing for products and services to specific groups of consumers in the region. Before embarking on this, surveys and marketing lists that show preferences and permission from consumers will be the way to carry out ethical telemarketing campaigns that will be more productive, effective and profitable.
Answering machines are not as popular among households here as in the US and, to date, there is little pressure to use answering machine detection in dialers, with the attendant problems of unacceptably long detection times this can bring.
We see a lot of growth potential for predictive dialing, the most sophisticated form of outbound calling, in the region, but we see the market developing differently than in other cultures. Telemarketing and technologies that enable call centers must take seriously the trust, loyalty and respect issues that are paramount in Asian cultures. Provided that these human factors are properly acknowledged, outbound calling is set for healthy growth in the region.
Patrick Tan and Innovax Systems can be contacted via their website, www.innovax.com.sg
Click here for a complete archive of our ‘Tip of the Month’ column.
If you are an outbound specialist, and would like to be a monthly tipster, jjust send us an email.
We had some interesting comments in our postbag on last month’s Special Edition on the US. Two comments, as follows, stood out.
From the UK –
“…and you refer to keeping called parties on the line, expecting that an agent may become available to talk to them, before they hang up. We used to do that, but the quality of the contact was poor, and not worth the extra productivity we were getting. When we put agents through to the people we had kept waiting, the agents often got a real earful!”
An honest admission, and we are happy to preserve the contributor’s anonymity.
And from a country in the Southern Hemisphere –
“I think we have a code of practice for dialing, but the real issue for us is measuring ourselves against what other telemarketers are doing. There is no point in us restricting the incidence of nuisance calls, if it means that we lose productivity relative to our competitors. We have no objection to following a tight code of practice, but only if we can be sure that our competitors are as well.”
Again, marks for honesty. This comment questions the viability of self regulation, whereby members of national marketing associations are honor-bound to abide by their associations’ codes of practice. And it is a comment that other users have made to us in confidence.
We stick to our belief that if marketing associations, whoever or wherever they may be, really work with their members, then there is excellent scope for creating a level playing field, where responsible codes of dialing practice will be honored by all.
Here’s a story of a salesman with a novel technique!
Jim is a sales manager. One day, he is sitting down to dinner when his phone rings.
“You don’t want to buy any life insurance, do you?” a young man asks faintly.
“No!” Jim replies, curtly.
“I didn’t think so.” the agent replies.
He is about to hang up when Jim says “Wait – I want to talk to you.”
The agent timidly answers “Er… yes?”
“I train salesmen,” Jim says, “and you’re obviously new at this. I’ve decided to help you out by taking a ten thousand dollar policy… but you’ve got to learn a good sales pitch.”
Chuckling, the young man replies, “That was my pitch to sales managers!”
Know any good outbound anecdotes? Send us an email.