Maximizing Profits Through Inbound Strategies

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Premier teleservices firms provide optimal inbound strategies to maximize profits by combining information gathering, customer relationship management, call center technology, and the latest web-enabled capabilities.


When properly utilized, these elements work together to create a seamless, highly efficient operation.


Response lists


Gathering data from callers is a crucial step in any inbound operation. Instead of concentrating exclusively on making the sale, teleservices representatives (TSRs) also can be trained to gather as much demographic and/or psychographic information as possible. This information may then be used either to sell the list or to promote additional products and services.


Many direct marketers feel that they will risk the sale if they keep the customer on the telephone too long. This impression can be counteracted by allowing the TSR to give the customer an incentive to answer further questions. For example, a $1 discount off the shipping cost may be sufficient to get the buyer to comply. The revenue generated at a later date may in fact outweigh the initial cost for this valuable information.


CRM integration


Customer relationship management with its emphasis on providing a full-service environment for prospects is essential to creating an atmosphere conducive to maximizing profits.


Quality CRM gives the customer a reply from the same channel as their initial contact. If a potential purchaser contacts the client by e-mail, the response should be by e-mail. If the contact is by fax, then the response should be by fax. Of course, any CRM system must also comply with personalized requests. It is conceivable that a prospect could fax the inbound center with a request for a telephone reply.


A second essential element of CRM involves the ability to give the TSR a complete history of the customer. This history must include all forms of prior contact including fax, phone, e-mail and the web.


Effective CRM creates a smoothly functioning operation. It facilitates the gathering of data for response lists and works with the latest technology to increase efficiency and maximize profits.


ACDs and IVRUs


Automatic call distributors (ACDs) and interactive voice response units (IVRUs) serve as the fundamental building blocks for successful inbound strategies. They work together to enable effective customer relationship management.


An auto attendant in an ACD routes incoming calls to the appropriate agent group. It gives priority to the respondent who has waited the longest and may be used to balance calls evenly between different inbound centers. IVRUs, on the other hand, utilize automation to make "intelligent decisions." They may provide individuals with specific financial information, for example, regarding their bank accounts.


ACDs and IVRUs increase the effectiveness of a CRM program by enabling responses through the same channel used by the customer and by allowing a complete history to appear on the TSRs computer screen.


In addition, any automated transactions and input obtained by the IVRU may be compiled for response lists. For example, one possible strategy is to have the TSR complete the sale and then switch the customer to an IVRU survey. Again, saving the TSR's time results in increased productivity and client profits.


Web technology


Web-enabled applications allow a customer visiting a client's web site to contact a live operator in a chat room. Cheaper than long distance phone rates, the process promotes customer participation in sensitive transactions over the web such as credit card purchases or banking transactions where human interaction is preferred.


These applications also utilize push/pull technology. TSRs in a chat room interact with the customer's computer by pushing pages onto the customer's screen. The resulting simultaneous browsing facilitates up-selling and cross-selling by the TSR.


Many TSRs now receive assistance in their on-line scripting by accessing hyperlinks on HTML files. The hyperlinks help TSRs respond to customer requests by clicking buttons to visit linked information or instruction locations. HTML files also help clients update and change the selling script without employing expensive software experts to rewrite entire programs.


Other inbound strategies


Other inbound strategies include segmentation and differentiating between campaigns.


Segmentation separates respondents into different levels of valued customers. For example, in a credit card campaign, there is a big difference between a customer who holds a MasterCard or Visa who is maxed out at a limit of $3,000, and the holder of a titanium card who has never used it. An effective inbound system recognizes the difference between the two customers and gives priority when appropriate.


Campaign differentiation simply involves the different techniques and emphasis necessary for different styles and levels of products. Inexpensive items don't require the same level of information gathering from respondents as from individuals who buy telephone sets or educational software. The value of the lists and demographic information obtained differs markedly in each case.


Conclusion


While the number of teleservices agencies employing all the techniques in this article are few to none, within the next few years, there will be a significant increase in the sophistication of inbound strategies. The experienced teleservices firm will be the most able to build on a base of what works and what doesn't to coordinate and further refine their operations.

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