What are inbound, or incoming calls?
Inbound calling is the process of handling calls that have been initiated by customers, so mostly it is about customer requests, complaints, appeals, or calls that bear the purpose to get some business details. Incoming calls may come from both current customers and potential customers, who have just found your firm on Google and decided to make a call to ask for something. Yes, such easy queries as “What are the business hours?” or “Where is your office?” are already beaten by Google My Business, IVR system, or website tabs, but if it comes to getting additional information about a product or discovering how it suits customer needs, the case becomes more complex.
Nonetheless, no matter the call, you always have to be on the top level and offer the same outstanding customer experience for all people who have called you. Such features, as intelligent call routing, automatic call distribution, and voice recognition IVRs are developed to speed up the process of handling customer requests. The golden rule is to solve all customer issues during the first contact, and this is called FCR - First Call Resolution Rate. As it is generally accepted, FCR should never be lower than 75%, because even most professional and qualified teams still face complaints that require too much hard work to do during one contact.
As we have also mentioned, inbound calls relate to sales because some people contact the customer service team to ask their questions about the product. It is the end of the customer’s path to the deal, after the time he spends finding your website or other information on the web and making a decision to switch to a new level of contact - personal, with a precise question.
Anyhow, the matter of the call isn’t as significant as the quality of customer service. You have to invest more in your agents’ training and qualification development because the call center agents are those who create the final result - a new deal or resolved customer request. They construct the brand image, extinguish conflicts, and create long-lasting and warm relations between the company and the client.
And what about outbound calls?
Even though this type of call isn’t related to the topic, let’s make the difference clear enough. As you could guess, outbound calls are initiated by the staff members, almost always customer service representatives, in case of cold sales or warming up the lead base. Outbound phone calls have both supporters and opponents, but to say the truth, they can generate sales and bring impact to the firm - if they’re set up in the right way.
Some companies or experts say outbound calls are ineffective and even harmful, but the reality is they almost always harm companies because of poor strategy and the wrong setting of the campaign. Even a such little thing as time of the call may broke the full campaign and create an image of outbound calls’ uselessness.
Cold calls to customers are popular enough to determine them as a generally accepted call center operation and marketing campaigns tool, but their implementation requires additional knowledge, skills, and advice, so use this article to find out all you must know about outbound calling.
Some tips for the right inbound call strategy
Now it’s time to move to the main purpose of this topic. Building a really working and effective call center inbound calling strategy requires knowing and using modern tools and approaches, avoiding mistakes that are often made by other managers, wise data operating, perfect workforce management, and being ready to review some conditions of the strategy on regular basis.
Let’s go further now.
Implement omnichannel model
Modern times require modern solutions, and handling a calling line as the only available opportunity to contact a business is the greatest mistake that can be done. Firstly, people look for more self-service opportunities and they are keen on instruments that assist them to solve their issues on their own - without being assisted by another person. Secondly, there has always been a great percentage of clients who don’t want to talk to agents - because of their mood, character, or other reasons. If these people don’t have an opportunity to get assistance in a comfortable mode, why should they stay with the company and don’t go for another business? Thirdly, people love fast inbound service, and in 2022 calling may look like a time-consuming and effortful task that many clients just want to try. The young audience prefers to do everything on social media, busy buyers don’t have time to pause their plans for placing a call.
The omnichannel approach means that you offer people the communication channels they like and want. Such tools as live chats, chatbots, messengers, email, and so on, have already become an irreplaceable part of our life, and isn’t it a good idea to do business where it is appreciated by the target audience?
Another vital advantage of the omnichannel approach is its ability to switch clients between various digital channels without losing the progress of the conversation. While multichannel contact centers can’t offer this option, an omnichannel solution is the most comfortable and adorable one. A client has been texting you, but now he has to make a drive? No problem - switch to call mode without any delays or progress losses.
Analyze customer information
Modern solutions offer wide insights and statistics that help to find out more about customer portraits, expectations, wishes, popular complaints, potential problems, and areas of improvement. For example, our solution has detailed up-to-minute dashboards that show inbound call center agent effectiveness and customer metrics, such as average call duration, amount of abandoned inbound phone calls, call volume, call status, Key Performance Indicators, and so on. This data is your most vital source of customer information, that can be used for various purposes: implementing proactive customer service, improving products or customer service, discovering uncovered product problems, offering personalized service, boosting customer retention, etc.
To sweeten the deal, we must say that our solution can help you to set up and start automated customer surveys to gather customer feedback, which would become the last accord of your customer data collection campaign. Ask people what they think, want, and dislike by sending automated calls or organizing email or messenger surveys, then gather the data, make conclusions, and change what needs to be changed, or improve what should be improved.
Moreover, such an option as CRM(Customer Relationship Management) integration adds all customer data from previous customer interactions or deals directly into the agent’s working interface, and he can analyze customer persona immediately to make a personalized offer or select the right conversation strategy.
Implement IVR and ACD technologies
These two contact center tools, which we have already mentioned in this post, are absolutely vital for any call center. Their main purpose is to provide self-service and guide callers to the specialist who would meet their needs the best.
Without IVR and ACD, you would have to either grow the staff to deal with the rising volume of calls from customers or lose people who would abandon their calls because of long call queues and the inability to achieve timely assistance. Both of these prospects sound frustrating, don’t they? On the contrary, IVR would exclude callers who have obvious customer queries, such as the ones we have described in the intro. People will get the info they need after one click in the menu, and rep time wouldn’t be filled with requests that don’t require any professional help. IVR can also handle more complicated requests, if it is set up wisely, according to the rules we have explained here. And yes, we know that numerous users hate it, but IVR is still one of the most powerful self-service tools - the lack of motivation of some companies to set it up to serve potential customers is another fact.
ACD(Automatic Call Distributor) comes into play when IVR is over and people decide to ask for sales rep assistance. ACD’s goal is to route the call to the operator who has the most suitable skill pack and experience that relate to the exact call. Technical calls would be routed to the IT unit, and both outgoing and inbound sales would go to the sales team.
Take into consideration that ACD gets info from IVR selections, so they have to work in pairs for the highest efficiency.
Invest in staff
No matter how qualitative is your contact center solution and how many features and tools it has, the final result and outcome of the call would be determined by the agent’s skills, knowledge, and agent productivity. You can buy all possible software, and equipment, and give them to inexperienced and low-qualified customer service agents to discover that good tools don’t create success on their own.
The only ones who can provide exceptional customer service, generate sales, boost rates and drive the company forward are call center agents. They take the responsibility for every call, and what they say and do determines what would the customer says and do. Add here the high level of mental pressure, much stress, angry customers, often conflicts, and the highest turnover rate across the market - and you will see that it is a great challenge to build a stable, qualified, and successful call center team.
As it follows from the statements above, there is no other way than to train your support or sales agents regularly to avoid their turnover and low satisfaction rates. You can try to pay no attention to it, but you will get nothing but more problems.
Trained agents are more motivated and satisfied, as well as more effective and productive. Use trendy training models, such as gamification, informal communication, one-to-one meetings, roleplay, remote training, and so on. Call center software also offers features for training, such as call recording.
Don’t forget such vital things as regular employee feedback providing and reward systems. Career prospects are also very crucial because many call center workers state that a lack of prospects make them look for another job, while experienced and skilled operator is almost impossible to be hired.
Review the strategy regularly
It is vital to review your inbound call strategy at least once a month before your call center will grow enough. Some firms make a popular mistake: they put in massive effort and spend days on designing a cool strategy, but afterward, set a one-year deadline and forget about it until the deadline comes. What is the final of the story? The little possibility exists that at least 30% of goals would be met.
Customer service is a dynamically changing industry, and what is more, when we talk about the young and inexperienced department that only starts its path to success, some goals may be outdated in a short time. Look at what really works, and what isn’t even needed to put more effort into one task, and exclude others. Track customer expectations and industry trends - there will definitely be some tips that you haven’t mentioned in the first version of the plan, and some conditions may be irrelevant already.
Spend resources wisely, because such a model of management is vital for establishing stability and fundament for growth. Use brainstorming with the team to find out what would help you to overplay competitors and provide the service that is awaited by your clients. And the last tip is the key to success: don’t do what would bring some additional impact for the firm, do what pleases buyers, and the impact will come on its own.
Use modern workforce management models
To say the truth, the main trends of workforce management have changed. Nowadays, workers are no more willing to sit in the office and spend their lives in this way. Hybrid or totally remote models of workforce management have become generally accepted and popular, as well as adored by numerous employees of both inbound and outbound call centers.
Implement a hybrid or remote model of scheduling to avoid agent burnout, misunderstandings, low motivation, and poor performance rates. On the contrary, these models allow you to offer all-around-the-clock service without additional spending.