By Angela Garfinkel, President and Founder
In the 80’s and 90’s, outbound marketing agents never provided a direct callback phone number when placing outbound marketing calls. The response to the question, “Can I call you back?, was always something like,”I’m sorry, but I’m calling on an outbound line and I can’t receive inbound calls”. Another common response outbound agents were coached to use was “I’m sorry, but I’m on and off the phone constantly all day and it is very difficult to reach me. I’ll just give you our toll-free number and you can speak to anyone who answers the call.”
Those days are long gone, and savvy marketing managers know that inbound calls and direct callbacks are an important component of the success of an outbound telemarketing campaign.
Here is a checklist of “do’s and don’ts” to consider when using an inbound line as part of your marketing strategy:
- Do provide a local phone number or extension on your phone system for every outbound marketing sales rep on the team.
- Do set up your telecom structure and dialer to prioritize an inbound call over outbound calls.
- Do provide a voicemail option for the customer or prospect to leave a message if the sales rep is on another call.
- Set a goal for how quickly the sales reps must return the call. It should be in 15 minutes or less. If that isn’t possible, set up a system for forwarding the voicemail to an alternate contact to respond to the message.
- Do make it easy for the outbound rep to transfer the caller if the call is service related or regarding any other topic that rep doesn’t have knowledge about.
- Do use a caller ID number for the outbound agent (particularly with Business to Business sales). The customer should be able to call that number and reach the same outbound agent that originally called them.
- Don’t forget to have each rep create a custom voicemail message so that the customer or prospect knows that they have reached the right party. Have the rep indicate their schedule for the week to set expectations if the customer or prospect calls before or after normal business hours. Have the rep provide an alternate contact if they need an immediate response.
- Don’t assume the inbound call system is working. Test the system on a daily or weekly basis. I recommend daily. Problems can occur that you may not realize. This can mean losing valuable sales and potentially losing credibility with your customers or prospects.
- Don’t use an 800# on your outbound marketing campaign’s Caller ID. People have learned that when it’s an 800 number calling, it is probably a telemarketer. They won’t answer and they won’t call the number back if they missed your call.
- Don’t make the customer or prospect wade through a big IVR tree to reach a sales rep. Ideally, when a customer or prospect calls the Caller ID number back, the call is immediately answered by the original sales rep that placed the call, or someone that is similarly trained to your products/services that can assist them.
Don’t forget that telemarketing laws are varied both for Federal and State, but it is important to always give the incoming caller the opportunity to request to be placed on the company-specific Do Not Call list. Of course, I’m an advocate of the “honor, don’t offer” standard procedure for that option.
Inbound Call Handling Benefits
Setting up a process for handling inbound calls on an outbound program has benefits, including increased professional credibility and increased results on the program. There are valid reasons for a customer or prospect wanting to consider your offer and call a specific outbound marketing sales rep back. Other times, the customer may hold onto the sales rep’s direct phone number to place a future order because they like dealing with a specific sales rep. Whatever the reason, providing an easy way for customers and prospects to reach a specific sales rep when they want to makes good business sense.
I’ve seen up to 10% of total orders come from inbound phone calls that are the result of an outbound marketing campaign. And with the use of Caller ID numbers with name display, inbound call opportunities from the outbound call can generate up to a 20% increase in sales conversion rates. Every time a customer or prospect sees a brand name with a Caller ID number on their phone, they are 30% more likely to call back a missed call (vs an 800 number or no number). Talk about a qualified sales lead! They saw your name and called you back.
Angela Garfinkel is the President and Founder of Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing services organization. Angela has the pleasure of leading a talented team that runs thousands of outbound telemarketing program hours on a daily basis. Angela can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516.656.5118.