The world is full of outbound telemarketing agencies with many of them dialling into the UK. Telemarketing is now so big that it has the potential to destroy itself. Getting outbound right is a challenge. If you ever need any advice on outbound, please contact us. Below is an article from 2007 on outbound.
If there is one area of call centre activity which has been hit harder than other sectors of the call centre industry then it must be B2C telemarketing. In 2004, CM-Insight's Mike Havard predicted the death of the cold call within 5 years unless companies changed their actions. Despite the doom and gloom over the last few years, we are now starting to see the resurgence of outbound. It has now transformed and is smaller and cleverer. Prospects are targeted more accurately, the agents speaking to them are more professional and the message being delivered is far more in tune with the individual's needs. We examine the tainted history of B2C outbound and look at what it holds for the future.
After the warnings of outbound's impending implosion, some of the UK's more professional companies did change their course but some went even further down the road to self-destruction. With conversion rates dwindling, some companies made even more low-quality calls in order to achieve the same volume of sales. They ignored related legislation in the belief that if they threw enough mud against the wall, some of it would stick. At the same time, we also saw the explosion in offshore call-centres and the rise and rise of the TPS.
When smaller centres were opened by entrepreneurs in countries like India and The Philippines, most of these were only able to operate outbound projects. Unlike clients who were "offshoring" inbound, the outbound clients often didn't care as much as in most cases, they were not messing with a brand. They were simply trying to get as many new customers as possible regardless of the consequences. With these offshore centres desperate to win any project they could, there were a number of very worrying bi-products:
• A dramatic rise in the number of telemarketing calls people receive
• Clients increasingly pushing for pay-per-performance modes
• Call-centres responding to less-profitable payment structures by reducing quality control processes
• Increasing resistance to telemarketing from consumers
• The rise and rise of the Telephone Preference Service
• Reductions in conversion rates
• Increase cost of finding and handling large volumes of data
Many UK-based outsourced vendors moved away from outbound work all together. Some companies even questioned the wisdom of doing cold B2C telemarketing at all. Even companies with their own client base have been careful not to exploit their valuable data with over-exposure to telemarketing.
Just when people thought that things could not get any worse, Channel 4 produces its documentary on fraud in offshore call centres. Whilst it's true that Channel 4 tried to establish a link between the banking sector and offshore fraud, the link was quite clearly with offshore B2C telemarketing companies. Unfortunately, many consumers will tar all telemarketing with the same brush.
However, companies are now starting to look at outbound more seriously and there are some simple rules which lend well to all forms of telemarketing
1. Be careful about offshoring: At the risk of offending our many readers who are involved in offshoring, it's pretty safe to say that the vast majority of the best received telemarketing calls originate from the UK. Unfortunately, many of the low quality offshore vendors have left consumers with a very poor perception when they receive a call from overseas.
2. The need to properly target data: The "hit and hope" methodology simply doesn't work these days even for the products or services with the most widespread appeal. If you don't have your own customer database to call, partner with someone who does and sell your products/services in conjunction with them. Conversion rates are much higher when speaking with an existing supplier or their partners.
3. Innovation throughout the operation: Successful outbound operations can quickly lose their steam. Any operation which wants to remain competitive has to continually come up with new ideas for incentives, management and call approach otherwise they can become stale. Engage all of the team in the process to ensure maximum buy-in and increased motivation.
In an ironic twist of fate, the outbound industry finds itself in a more positive state than it could have been.
1. In our recent survey on consumer opinions on offshoring, more people objected to offshore inbound centres than their outbound counterparts.
2. Anyone who truly objects to the TPS has already registered. This has immediately removed the people most unlikely to buy from telemarketers.
3. Many of the small, independent vendors without international call centre experience are increasingly going out of business With all of this happening, it is now down to the individual call-centres to make sure that we don't mess it up this time.
With all of this happening, it is now down to the individual call-centres to make sure that we don't mess it up this time.