At one time, it may have been enough to outfit outbound call center agents with a handheld phone, a list of phone numbers and a straightforward task—call these numbers, sell this product.
Today, that old playbook is all but obsolete.
While that strategy may net you a few leads or sales, it’s likely to be time-consuming and demanding on resources, with an ROI that isn’t what you expected. And while that’s enough to make some companies give up on their outbound services, the problem isn’t outbound—the problem is in the process.
In order to have effective outbound services, you need to understand how to optimize workflows, work within the current economy and labor market, and make use of current and upcoming technology for customer satisfaction.
As such, our team of CX experts have put together five of the biggest outbound call center trends to watch in 2023 and beyond—and how you can implement them for success in your organization.
The Rise of Artificial Intelligence and Automation
If you haven’t been hearing about the sudden explosion in AI (artificial intelligence) technology, automation capabilities, ChatGPT and the rest—you will. All of this is set to become a major trend for call centers—both inbound and outbound—in 2023 and beyond.
As AI becomes more advanced and conversational, it will soon be an expected feature of call center technology, much in the same way that a good CRM system or automated dialing is an expectation today.
Of course, AI has many more use cases than previous technology like automated dialers or advanced IVR systems. For example, AI can help call centers through:
- automated data analysis
- creating/servicing self-service solutions
- interacting with customers directly (i.e. chatbots)
- automating workflows such as call logging or data tracking
- creating FAQs based on knowledge base articles
- sending/replying to SMS messages
The benefits of AI for outbound call centers will be huge—not only can it increase your quality and efficiency, it can also make it easier to scale your operations affordably and improve productivity, allowing your team to truly do more with less. In addition, as AI continues to improve and develop, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your customer interactions by increasing sentiment analysis, analyzing lead quality, aiding in outbound communications and more.
A Focus on Omnichannel Communication and Customer Experience
The omnichannel customer experience is more important than ever—and this is true for both inbound and outbound call centers. In 2023, outbound call centers will see an increased reliance on channels besides phones—for example, SMS messaging, social media communication and other outbound channels.
However, when it comes to the omnichannel trend, there’s a key detail that’s often overlooked: when many companies think of omnichannel experiences, they think, “We need to be on every channel!” That may not be true.
Omnichannel is not just about adding more channels to your outbound call center strategy. Instead, the heart of an omnichannel experience is one that is, more accurately, channel agnostic—that is, customers get the same great experience no matter how they contact you—and seamless across channels.
For example, if your outbound call center connects with a lead via phone and then the lead follows up via email, this should result in a seamless experience for the customer. Whether or not it’s the same agent, the agent who responds should have all the information from the phone call, the background on the lead and so on. A good CRM for outbound call centers can help collect this data and make it available for every agent.
Of course, while modern technology helps make this possible, it needs to be implemented properly to actually work—this can be done either in-house or by an outsourcing partner that knows how to effectively manage CCaaS platforms, CRM solutions and more. These technologies, when implemented properly, can connect all of your customer data to not only make your agents more efficient and effective, but also to create seamless omnichannel experiences for your customers.
Adapting to Remote and Hybrid Work Models
Another trend to watch—and be prepared to adapt to—in 2023 is the increasing shift toward remote and hybrid working models in outbound call centers. As the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, the shifting economy and other global changes have upended our traditional lifestyles and economy, the preferred working habits of the labor force have shifted as well.
As such, in order to maintain your workforce, outbound call centers will need to understand the benefits and challenges of these models, and be prepared to adapt to remote management.
Despite the difficulty of changing trends, there’s many benefits for remote and hybrid work models:
- remote work often increases efficiency and productivity among workers
- offering remote positions allows you to benefit from a wider workforce, countering some of the effects of the Great Resignation
- remote workers help lower overhead costs
- with the increase in CCaaS and other cloud-based software, remote work is easier than ever to facilitate while still maintaining essential security
In addition to shifting working models, there’s an increasing reliance on outsourcing partners for outbound call center services. With outsourced partners, there’s typically a remote partnership, increasing the necessity of being able to effectively manage and collaborate with remote teams. If you’re new to the remote work trend, partnering with an outsourcing provider can be an easy and effective way to take advantage of some of these benefits. After all, outsourcing centers have been managing remote partnerships for decades, so they typically have a leg up on best practices for remote teams and solutions.
Either way, it’s essential to learn best practices for navigating a virtual (or hybrid) contact center. For many outbound call centers, this comes down to four key areas: software, communication, employee engagement and training.
- The right software not only enables employees to work remotely, or in a hybrid environment, but enhances security while doing so. Cloud-based contact center solutions are an effective way to manage a remote call center.
- Communication is even more important when employees are remote—not only to keep employees engaged, but also to provide training, connection to other teams and agents, manage quality and more.
- When employees are remote, it’s even more important to focus on engagement, as low engagement can reduce retention as well as lower the quality of your call center results. Even if employees are remote, don’t overlook the value of face-to-face time, and implement regular check-ins to keep employees engaged and doing their best work.
- Finally, training is just as, if not more, important when teams are remote. Outbound call centers need to provide ongoing training to monitor quality as well as improve results. Finding ways to adapt existing training models to hybrid or remote environments will be essential moving forward.
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Enhanced Data Analytics and Reporting
As 2023 unfolds, it’s clear that data analytics and usage is only becoming more important for both inbound and outbound call centers.
As outbound call centers seek to optimize performance, enhanced data analytics will be a key player. Not only is there an increased amount of data available, but we’re seeing enhanced tools and platforms that allow organizations to analyze and understand that data. For example, modern CRM platforms provide a place to collect and store user data at scale, providing huge amounts of customer data alongside a platform to analyze and interpret it.
And customers are increasingly likely to provide companies with this data as well:
So what’s happening with all that data in outbound call centers? In 2023, that data needs to drive both personalization and optimization.
For example, take the case of predictive analytics and machine learning for outbound call center optimization. These two data analytics technologies can help support call center forecasting and scheduling, allowing for smoother internal operations and maximizing agent scheduling. By optimizing the number of agents scheduled at any given time, you improve operational efficiency by reducing the number of times you have too many agents scheduled given the call volume. However, in addition, you also improve customer-facing results by reducing the number of times you have too few agents scheduled given the call volume.
So, these enhanced data analytics are improving efficiency for both internal and customer-facing metrics. But you now also have improved reporting and KPI tracking for better decision-making with customer data as well.
For example, increased consumer data analytics can help your company understand individual customer preferences so you can cater directly to each consumer, even on a large scale. These small personalization changes strengthen customer satisfaction and loyalty, while also making your outbound sales and marketing more effective.
Personalization and Customer Segmentation
Speaking of data and personalization, increased personalization, customer segmentation, hyper-targeting and the like are all going to be increasing trends for 2023 and beyond.
Personalization has long been a trend for inbound customer service, but it’s now becoming a trend for outbound marketing and calling as well. Consider that the more customized your outbound call center techniques to each consumer are, the higher quality leads you’ll receive—and with higher quality leads, you have higher conversion rates, more efficient and effective your outbound call center is on the whole.
But how are outbound call centers actually implementing this?
For one, you have the increased data and analytics mentioned above. With increased data and information on customers, you can segment customers and target communications accordingly. For example, consider an outbound call center that’s doing upselling and cross-selling. If this call center doesn’t have much data on their customers, they’re probably going to make a generic pitch for an upsell opportunity that may or may not be relevant to the given individual, thus reducing the effectiveness of their selling.
On the other hand, a modern outbound call center that’s keeping up with trends and implementing advanced data analytics for customer segmentation will be able to see, as they call a customer, what the customer has purchased recently, the customer interactions, communications and more. As such, when they get in touch with the customer, they can make a personalized recommendation for an upsell that will be hyper-targeted to that customer’s preferences, prior purchases and current needs, thus greatly increasing conversions.
Of course, that’s just one example—the use cases here are endless, and as personalization continues to grow within the outbound call center industry, we expect to see even more developments and chances for optimization in this space.
Responding to Outbound Call Center Trends
Of course, managing and staying up-to-date with trends is essential. But how can outbound call centers actually implement these trends beneficially in their own organizations?
Consider the following checklist:
What outbound call center channels are you currently using? Do you need to implement any modern outbound channels, such as SMS or email?
If so, what do you need to do to implement an omnichannel experience across them?
What customer data do you currently have access to, and are you tracking and implementing it effectively?
What additional customer data might you be able to gain access to?
What software and technological tools are you currently implementing for operational efficiency and customer satisfaction? What new tools—CCaaS solutions, AI technology—can you implement for greater success in these areas?
What processes or workflows might be automated in the coming years for your outbound call center, and how can you implement automation now to make agents more productive and effective?
How prepared is your outbound call center for the growing remote or hybrid workforce? What tools, technologies or process improvements need to be made to adapt to changing workforce habits?
How personalized are your outbound call center communications? What do you need to implement for increased personalization?
As you consider how you can implement these upcoming trends for your outbound calling, selling or surveying, it may be worth bringing in a team of experts to help strategize or design an outbound calling strategy that delivers the results you need—especially if the answers to these questions aren’t immediately clear.
ROI CX Solutions provides a wide variety of outbound call center outsourcing services, from lead generation to telemarketing, upselling, cross-selling, surveys and more. Whether you need to draw on decades of expertise to determine the best solutions for your outbound strategy or have a specific project or need that you want high-quality resources to execute, ROI CX Solutions is here to help.
Connect with an expert from ROI CX Solutions today and see how you can implement these current outbound trends into your call center for long-term results.