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  • Writer's pictureNavvir Pasricha

Why Outbound Calls Don't Work

It is an undeniable fact that the world of today moves at a much faster pace and is more remote-friendly than ever before. Yet the hunger for more remote-friendly business practices has been at the forefront of most innovation discussions for the past three to four years. Companies want as much work done online or over the phone for two very simple reasons :

Convenience & Cost.

In February of 2020, Deloitte published an article entitled “Convenience is King”. This line has then been repeated multiple times by multiple other publications because it is true. Our world is one where consumers demand immediate gratification and as such, businesses have to cater to these whims. That is why an increasing number of banks in Malaysia are offering online signup processes for bank accounts and credit cards. Instead of a customer having to rush out to the branch over lunch or having to take half a day off work to do some banking work, they can do everything from home. This online signup process has the ability to make a financial institution much more attractive than its competitors. The second reason requires no explanation - cost. The fewer people you need in a branch, the lower your costs to operate that branch are, the more money the company makes in the end.

Yet despite the desires of businesses to enable customers to open accounts etc remotely, the technology has been slow to adapt. This has created a situation where despite customers submitting their information online, there is a strong possibility that the customer will need to speak to a representative of the business on the phone to complete the signup process. In order to accomplish that, the businesses need to call their prospective customers and this is where the process normally falters.

The fact is that people generally don’t respond to cold calls (calling someone out of the blue, without any prewarning). As a matter of fact, a 2019 survey showed that 60% of calls go unanswered. From the remaining 40%, a maximum of 15.5% will entertain the caller with the rest refusing to engage or brushing the caller off.

Why does this happen?

  1. Timing

As we discussed in our recent video of the Bangladesh Cyber Heist - timing is everything. A 2019 study showed that most calls that were successful happened between 10 am and 11 am with 15.5% of people called during this time being able or willing to proceed with the call. Furthermore, Wednesdays seem to be when most calls are successful. So, if you or your team are making calls outside of this golden hour, chances are that your call will be unsuccessful.

  1. Misalignment

The same survey indicated that 87% of customers feel that the people they speak to on the phone do not understand their (the customer’s) needs. This means that when on the phone with a customer, the representative is so focused on what they need (the sale, the information etc), that they forget to do some basic rapport building or pleasantries.

  1. Preparation

Another survey indicated that 40% of the time, a representative makes a call without doing any research about the customer. This does not mean that the representative needs to know personal information about the customer, rather, the representative should know what information has already been provided, what issues were faced, what product was applied for and what information is required. If the customer needs to provide all the information as they had provided before, the online signup process ceases to be convenient and therefore becomes unattractive.

  1. KPIs

Having KPIs that are too much of a stretch might send the wrong message to the representatives as they will focus more on doing the right thing for themselves rather than getting the job done right. Ultimately, the business is not theirs and giving them handle time targets means they prioritize quantity of calls rather than quality - a formula for failure. This is why we receive calls where a representative blurts out random information before we can understand what is going on - they want to get the call done quickly rather than well.

  1. Conditioning

In general, people have become conditioned to treat unknown calls/texts/emails as scams primarily because so many people have lost money by entertaining calls from unknown parties. Therefore, 60% of people will not answer calls when they do not recognize the number. This is probably the single biggest reason calls fail and unfortunately, is also the most difficult problem to solve. Companies can inform customers of the upcoming calls via email or text message but these have not proven to work. As a matter of fact, 80% of text messages or emails go unopened.

If these reasons seem overwhelming to you that is because it is indicative of a systemic failure. The nature of outbound calls is flawed and makes it difficult if not impossible to see long term success. The biggest reason for this is that most methods of communication break the rule that we discussed at the start of this article - convenience is king. Having a customer sign up for a product only to have to speak to them on the phone because of a flaw in the onboarding process is what must be fixed rather than fixing outbound calls.

Having said that, there are methods that can be used to get customers on the phone. Methods that address the issues above and can help improve the percentage of calls to successful calls. Methods that keep the core principle alive - convenience is king.

If you want to learn more about these methods, contact us and we can share them with you.

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