To the ARM industry dialing is a core functionality, but until recently, the rest of the contact and call center world has been primarily focused on inbound. Now, inbound customer service contact centers are using outbound to differentiate their business. The goal to create effortless customer service and a smoother customer journey has evolved to include proactive outbound notifications that bring timely and useful information to the customer while simplifying effort on their end.
Call center managers are realizing what you’ve known all along—it won’t do to wait for accounts to contact you. For one, the debtor-initiated contact is rare; and two, waiting for them to bring questions puts you behind the game playing catch-up and/or defense. A good outbound strategy gives customers confidence that the company is aware of their needs and able to knowledgeably assist with any inquiry.
To get some fresh ideas on outbound contacting tactics, let’s take a look at how some primarily inbound centers are implementing the channel. Here are three simple steps to improve the customer experience using proactive outbound notifications.
A key benefit of outbound is the ability to bring customers answers before they have to go looking for them on their own. Put the vast stores of your CRM data to use by proactively sending out relevant account status information and recommended actions. You can pre-empt inquiries using payment reminders, courtesy calls, outage notifications, service updates, and the like. Whatever information you decide to share with accounts, be sure it is timely and valuable to the recipient’s current situation—too frequent contact or extraneous communication can quickly change from convenience calls to nuisance calls.
Use Preferred Channels
Customers have seemingly limitless options for communications channels—they are calling from home and mobile phones; navigating self-service menus through IVR, mobile apps, internet browsers, and websites; and voicing their concerns via text, web chat, social media, and email. To be present and active in each of these channels is a daunting task for customer service organizations of all types. Thought leaders are now emphasizing the need for an omni-channel contact center (handling multiple channels in one system) and suggest participating in the top channels your customers are using, while still meeting SLAs. If a customer has shown a channel preference by continued use or a verbal request, be sure to deliver their outbound messages in that preferred format. Keep in mind different accounts will have different preferences, so your notifications need to be readily available in each channel you serve.
Continue the Conversation
Remember your goal is to have a two-way conversation. With every outbound message, be sure contacts are able to respond efficiently or they are directed to the “next steps” on a self-service journey. This can be as simple as including an option to transfer to a live agent or responding with an SMS. Next steps in a self-service route may include linking to relevant documentation, using a Knowledge Management based FAQ section on your website, or entering a self-service portal for payments/scheduling.
How can I apply this? It’s easy to fall into the same patterns when you’re contacting accounts—pushing each through the same planned sequence. Look at things from their perspective and send them answers to questions they may have but haven’t asked yet—keep them informed and up-to-date on account proceedings. See what can be gained by giving agents the flexibility to communicate the way that best suits each contact. With each outgoing communication, include next steps or a way to continue the conversation, giving contacts confidence in your ability to help them through the process.
This article was written by Jenna Bowman