Call centres have obtained a not so nice reputation of being the source of pesky calls. Waking you up on Sunday afternoon, interrupting your meetings with a credit card deal though you already have five, selling you insurance when you seemingly do not need it.
As a marketer, one can leverage call centres and the emerging technology in ways that are far more effective and non intrusive. Leverage the communication medium to promote your brand and sales, in ways that are more acceptable to consumers and public at large.
Some of the key ways to use call centres for marketing:
- Direct Response Marketing
- Experiential Marketing
- Cross Selling
- Online Sales Conversion
Direct Response Marketing
When we spend money reaching out to prospects, we should want to make it easy for prospects to reach us. What better for consumers than having an option to reach the brand or retailer directly to get answers to their questions?
Display an inbound hotline number on your advertising, website and marketing collaterals. This can be a 1-800 Toll Free or a regular landline where the costs of calls to the line are borne by the caller. Staff it well or outsource it to a specialist.
Close the loop by having a good funnel management system. This will help collate inbound leads and pass them to the appropriate team for closure. Using appropriate technology and CRM systems, you can convert prospects to customers with maximum impact and minimal drop offs.
It also helps to reach out to the prospect after a certain time period and to check if the company served the prospect. More often than not, the prospect is dropped somewhere in the sales cycle and this leads to loss of business for the brand.
There are several products and services that consumers may want to experience before they make a purchase decision. Ranging from cars to refrigerators to food and beverage products. Marketers can get consumers to experience these and then work with them to close the sales cycle.
Experiential marketing for most parts will include reaching out to prospects to come in for an experience session. This would include a product or service demo.
Call centres can be used for experiential marketing by leveraging them for:
- Identifying prospects for your experiential marketing program
- Reaching prospects to share information and to invite for session. This can be a supplement to email and direct mail
- Reconfirm attendance by prospects. Usually events related to experiential marketing could themselves experience high drop off rates. Reconfirming participation a day before the event always helps
- Post event contact including reaching out for research, product purchase intent, post use feedback and referral of new prospects
Inbound call centres are often seen as a cost centre. However, if we consider inbound calls to be a sales opportunity, then we may view the use of the centre differently. Inbound calls are an opportunity to present your current customers with updates on upgrades, new products and planned products, with the intent to get the customer to make additional purchases based on their needs.
It may not be as easy as it seems. Especially since the customer may have called the call centre with a complaint or to express their unhappiness about a product or service. That moment may not be the best or most appropriate to embark on a sales pitch! However, if the interacting representative is able to assess the disposition of the customer, and if positive, then a sales communication can be activated. Other opportunities to interact with the customer can also be created at this time. For example, the representative could ask for permission for the company to contact the customer for sales related matters.
Inbound desks should be equipped with a good, easy to use CRM system that enables the representative to quickly summarise the call outcome and next steps and to start the funnel process.
Online Sales Conversion
Marketers invest significant time and money to get consumers and prospects to their website or online store. However the website visitor remains largely anonymous unless registered and logged in.
Web chat and sales hotlines are a good way to start engaging with website visitors.
Some of the key advantages of web chat and a sales hotline for ecommerce business:
- From Anonymous to Identified. Getting details of visitors and including this in a campaign management system will help improve conversions through follow up marketing.
- Sales and Sales. For several product categories, speaking to someone knowledgeable can help the website visitor take a decision. More so when the call centre sales representative is able to provide a solution and also close the sale on the phone. Payments too can be collected on phone through a secure payment gateway activated though interactive voice response technology
- Having your website visitors call you or chat with your representative also helps get direct feedback on the webstore. Hidden in the questions are tips for improvement of your website. Be it content or website navigation or pure feedback on the products or pricing. Have a team member go through the queries and see how you can address these more effectively through the content or navigation.
There are several other ways to use and leverage your call centre investments for marketing.
To get more insights or ideas write to the author