Many outsourcers call centers nowadays place the most agents possible on a single call flow. Some agents may work only on inbound channels, or they may only handle outbound calls. However, this strategy is less than ideal for contact center efficiency and brand growth. Giving too much attention to only inbound calls or outbound calls risks ignoring the other. The last thing customers want is a contact center that cannot take their inbound calls because all agents are busy telemarketing. And companies don’t want too many agents taking inbound calls and not driving sales through outbound calls. It is important to balance inbound and outbound strategies to drive contact center efficiency. The method chosen will have a strong, direct impact on your brand’s overall success.
Contact centers have different functions based on their company’s products and services. For example, outbound calls may be placed for telemarketing purposes. Telecommunications companies are a common example, as they regularly make outbound calls to offer products. Outbound calls may also be placed to offer reminders to customers about appointments or payments due. Inbound calls may come in for a variety of reasons. Typically, customers contact brands for service reasons. They may have technical issues to resolve or want to check the status of an order, for example.
Contact centers that manage both inbound and outbound calls can use call blending to manage call activity. Call blending involves managing inbound calls and outbound calls flexibly. A contact center solution seamlessly regulates outbound calls based on inbound call traffic. If inbound call traffic is low, outbound calls are generated automatically for specified outbound campaigns. When inbound call flow increases, an automated dialer reduces outbound calls to prioritize inbound contacts. In this manner, inbound calls are generally prioritized over outbound calls, ensuring stronger customer service and agent productivity.
The Vocalcom Hermes 360 omnichannel contact center solution in particular also offers the added benefit of a smart outbound feature. This feature makes real-time updates to customer files to give every agent a complete, 360 view of customer data. If, after an outbound call, a customer contacts the company, his or her data will already be updated in the customer file and ready to access for further assistance.
Before choosing and implementing a strategy, it is important to define your contact center’s goals. What are your targets, and through what means? Which tools do you have at your disposal to meet these goals? These tools could be a contact center solution as well as the agents staffing your contact center. You may find that you wish to set your goals according to the means of your contact center. Alternatively, you may prefer to set specific goals and then find the means to meet them—such as hiring more agents, training agents in new skills, or adopting contact center technology to assist in productivity. Your goals ultimately depend on the strategy you choose for your contact center and the financial and human resource means you have.
When allocating agents to specific roles, never make the critical error of assigning all agents to the inbound channel or all of them to the outbound channel. If every agent is occupied only on outbound, for example, there is a chance that no one will be available to handle inbound calls. Customers need to be able to reach your contact center easily.
There are different ways to allocate agents. Whatever your choice, remember to consider the agent’s impact on a customer interaction. Training agents to handle both inbound and outbound channels is important to running a contact center smoothly, but this also means the agent will be less specialized in a specific area. However, providing agents with a contact center solution that manages both inbound and outbound channels does ultimately reduce training time as they only have to learn to use one software solution.
If, on the other hand, you decide to dedicate specific agents to just one channel, there will always be someone to handle an inbound service call or place an outbound telemarketing call, for example. For telemarketing, many contact centers actually find it essential to allocate specific agents who have specialized training for that channel and activity since sales are more likely on the outbound channel.
A contact center solution with a call blending feature allows an automated dialer to work with an automated call distribution, or ACD, system. This process routes calls to available agents on both inbound and outbound channels. In this manner, agent wait time is reduced and occupancy rates increase—leading to maximum agent productivity. Agents are able to switch between inbound and outbound channels seamlessly as needed. This can relieve pressure on both inbound and outbound teams during peak periods.
With call blending, a contact center solution can manage both inbound and outbound calls at once, but once again, it’s important not to place all agents on just one channel. Call blending is an excellent way to improve agent efficiency, balance workload across inbound and outbound teams, and drive agent versatility to better meet contact center demand.
If a customer calls back a contact center after receiving an outbound call, smart outbound will ensure that he or she is directed to the right team in charge of the outbound campaign. The customer’s file will pop up for the agent, and the call will be incremented into an outbound, rather than an inbound, campaign. Smart outbound therefore allows for unified management of customer inbound calls. For example, if a telecommunications provider calls a customer to make a subscription offer and the customer does not answer, the customer may call back and state that he or she is not interested. When this happens, the customer’s name will be taken off the outbound contact list. Smart outbound therefore offers a 360-customer view, a unification of call campaigns, and unified inbound call management.
Managing a contact center efficiently takes skill and strategy. With careful planning, agent training, and robust contact center software, your contact center can balance inbound and outbound call strategies for optimal success.
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