In the quest to get customer attention and acquire new customers, businesses have been relying on outbound call centres to manage and monitor its telemarketing function that includes services like lead generation and appointment scheduling. However, over the last few years they have been facing customer criticism for bombarding them unsought telemarketing calls and e-mails. Considering that customers have emerged out as a major detrimental factor for business growth and realising that business cannot survive today’s competitive market without acquiring a strong base of loyal customers, an increasing number of business organisations have started revamping its telemarketing strategies. They are no longer relying on outbound call centres only, but have started leveraging inbound call center services for marketing purpose.
For years, inbound call centre services have been considered as expensive, yet necessary to ensure the quality of customer care and support function. However, the traditional role of inbound call centres has undergone a transformation in the last few years. An increasing number of business organisations have started seeing them as a critical bridge that brings them closer to their customers. Organisations that used to advocate the use of finest outbound call centres to practice traditional ways of targeting audience and connecting with them are no longer using those age-old practices. They have switched to inbound call centers to identify potential customers, connect with them and present them with offers that may entice them and increase sales via the means of up-selling and cross-selling.
Traditionally, the main motto of a business model based on inbound and outbound call centreswasto minimize the average time spent on per call to reduceminimize the operational costs associated with the function. For such businesses, quantity of calls was the key motivator. They were not as focused on the quality of calls as they should be. For them, operational efficiency was more important than retaining customers, improving customer satisfaction level and boosting sales number and increasing revenues by the means of up-selling and cross-selling. Call centre functions were seldom associated with business strategies and goals of an organisation. However, these were the things of past. The age old call centres have transformed into the new age contact centre.
Technology has played an important role in the metamorphism of call centres. First it was the arrival of customer relationship management (CRM) system that changed how call centre industry functioned in the late 1990s. CRM systems allowed call centers, both inbound and outbound call centres,to perform strategic role. These systems empowered call centre executives by providing them with the complete background history of callers, which enabled them to establish instant connection with customers and provide them with personalised services. Having the complete details of a customer’s relationship with the organisation like what products did he buy, when did he buy, what issues did he face with the product and how those issues were resolved, allowed executives to find out all the earlier marketing campaigns that the customer responded to and enabled them to share a rapport with customer and up-sell and cross sell different products.
Though CRM systems helped inbound and outbound call centresimprove the efficiency of their operations, but they did not help them gain a clear insight of customers’ behavior. Without a clear understanding of what their customers wanted from them, call centres could not do much. CRM systems were generating data, but devoid of the idea of how that data can be converted into meaningful information that could be used for serving customers better, call centres were handicapped.
It was the arrival and wide acceptance of predictive analytics that helped the call industry to better understand the latest market trend and prepare itself for challenges that it may face in near future. This technology not only enabled call centres to prepare for the future, but also let them have a sneak-peak into customers’ behaviour. Those call centres that were able to properly deploy predictive analytics applications on their existing systems were able to decipher the data they have had forever, but did not know how to use it to their advantage.
A better understanding of customers’ behaviour, their sales pattern, needs and expectations allowed inbound call centres to take over the telesales function ofoutbound call centres and helped businesses increase their sales number and revenues by boosting up-sales and cross-sales.