The most important part of a call center’s operations – the reason for which companies outsource their telecommunications duties to call centers in the first place – is to reach newer markets and increase sales.
Working as a call center employee, your success is absolutely directly related to the conversion ratio you bring to the table. An increase in sales reflects well on the team, a drop in sales points to negligence or inefficiency in the procedure.
Call center marketing thrives on such black and white goals. To boost the conversion ratio and generate sales, most of the top telemarketing software have identified the most crucial aspect of the relationship between customer and call center agent to be proper follow up calls.
Representatives are constantly asked to brush up their selling skills so that they can contribute to the growth of the company by closing more deals. This requires understanding on how to go about perfecting the follow up call.
In many ways, a follow up can be even more challenging than a cold call. In case of a cold call, there are predetermined templates that an agent can fall back upon, which with time have come to include the sort of pitches that generate a positive impression in most people.
Follow ups, however, are a different ball game with far more variables and more nuanced differences in every call. Typically, the first call is for acquaintance, while follow ups get the actual sales cycle rolling.
Jim Dormanski, president of Teleconcepts Consulting, says, “The follow up call is where value truly begins to manifest itself. It’s here where substantive information is gathered; and it’s here where the relationship begins to establish itself.”
This is the motto behind every successful call center business – Follow up calls must successfully turn prospects into clients.
With so much importance given to the art of the perfect follow up, companies are on the lookout for telecommunications services which can increase their revenue by converting a high percentage of such prospects into customers.
That is why it becomes so important to have proper strategies in place to make the best follow up call as possible. Here are some tips to help in that regard, given the understanding of follow ups as described so far.
1. Get commitment – It is important to establish the specific date and time for the follow up call before hanging up on the cold call.
Vague timings like “next week” or so on are likely to result in missed calls, more voicemails, etc and gradually delve into a longer and more drained out sales cycle which adds to inefficiency. Always leave a conversation with a specific time for resuming it.
2. Take initiative to schedule the follow up. Instead of waiting for the customer to set a time according to their satisfaction, suggest times that you think are reasonable for a follow up.
This way, the control of operations remains in your hand, since you can assess exactly how long you need to process developments from your end.
If your suggested time doesn’t work for the customer, suggest another. Setting a deadline is crucial for substantive conversation.
3. Building a personal relationship often helps the customer to feel more connected to the company. Simple gestures like a mail expressing thanks and looking forward to speaking again, register in a client’s mind and help them trust the brand, which ultimately contributes to sales.
4. Give a reminder before your follow up call – Preferably a day before the call is scheduled, remind the customer about it. A simple email detailing the call that is scheduled should do the trick. This gives the customer a heads-up in case he or she did not remember the date and time of the scheduled follow up call.
5. Talk along the lines of the initial call during reminders. Before the follow up call, the customer gets time to think over his decision and consider all options before he chooses any particular course of action.
At this point, you want to be convincing without coming off as trying to bulldoze his thoughts. Therefore, draw references to the first conversation and assure the customer that any query he might have will be answered comprehensively.
6. Add value in communication. Reminder emails are a great way to subtly ensure your customer gets to know more about the services you offer, through meaningful links in post scripts.
Take him to your website, or a citation, or anything on the internet that would induce a positive response from the customer’s end. This helps you generate likelihood even before the call is made.
7. Be exactly on time with the follow up call. It is extremely important to start off in the right manner. The punctuality you show in adhering to this is equated to the respect you have for the customer.
If the client feels you are not bothered to ring up on time, he will never display interest in what you have to say. Delayed follow up calls are as good as no follow up calls at all.
8. When on the call, start off with something better than a generic opening statement such as “I am calling to follow up on what we discussed” or “I am calling to clarify your doubts if you have any”.
Such statements gives an impression that you did not invest any time and effort into understanding the customer as a person. Come up with something personalized for that specific client that will grip his attention.
9. Building an opening statement goes a long way in establishing a successful connection. Introduce yourself with your full name, introduce your company, remind the client why you are following up and what the concerns in the previous call were, and walk him through the conversation that had already taken place. Keep harping on the same theme for emphasis and allow for the customer to interact freely.
10. It is important for an agent to know how to remain persistent but not impolite. The conversation must be professional, but the customer must feel some sort of a personal gain to investing with your company’s product. Strategizing the body of the call is important to stand out from the crowd.
11. Deliver value in every call, instead of all the substance remaining in the initial call only. Rather than just calling to check up on developments, use the valuable conversational time to insert a compelling reason for the customer to be more interested with every call.
Talk about similar cases and how your company solved the problem, or any new value addition that you can provide, or even some news that is relevant to the conversation.
12. Provide a step-wise consultation for your client. Walk them through their clarifications, explain the nuances of the service being offered, and talk to them about exactly how you propose to provide solutions to their problems.
Such a strategy also ensures more follow ups in case one call is not enough to clear every doubt. Repetition of this cycle means the client is more and more interested in the brand and is likely to purchase.
13. Bridge every previous conversation every time you engage in a follow up call. Give the prospective customer a reason to continue the conversation rather than assuming their requirement.
Walk them through the discussions you have already had, the value propositions that have been discussed and add on any new idea that you have come up with. This way, new information is casually weaved into conversation.
14. To keep the interest of the customer high, you have to keep tying every point back to why they need to avail your service in the first place. This process has to continue till the point where the customer can realize the benefits on their own.
15. Keep descriptive data about the outcome of every follow up and use that data to understand the expected client behavior in the subsequent calls. This way, you are best prepared to come up with solutions that are in sync with what the client is looking for.
The Case Study
Hopefully, reading through the explanations and tips provided above gives a fair idea about the nature of follow up calls and how they are to be implemented for best results.
The technological industry has come up with the latest and best telemarketing software to guide a call center agent on when to call, whom to call, purposes of call, previous call records and other pertinent information that is helpful to the agent for the conversation to come.
To emphasize the effect, good follow up calls can have, let us take a case study of a real situation. To maintain anonymity, let us call the company in question, Ladbricks Consulting. It is a call center company that provides the telemarketing services for a popular company.
In this case study, we will take a look at the situation that the company was in, the challenges it faced and the solutions that its top leaders managed to incorporate to eradicate those challenges. We will also devote some time in understanding the effects of the changes that were brought about and how the results showed a positive change.
The Problem Scenario
Ladbricks Consulting is a call center handling services with prospective clients. Their lead generation is great, but the managers are noticing a lot of leads being dispatched after follow up calls. Thus, their leads to sales conversion ratio were dropping.
Ladbricks Consulting realized that they had to systematically approach and address this problem to correct it as soon as possible because they would be losing valuable business if things were allowed to go on as they were right at that moment. They decided to pool in efficient brains and rely on telecalling software to manage their conversion rate issues.
The company faced numerous challenges at different stages of operations, but for this case study we will limit ourselves to the observation of those challenges which are a direct result of call follow ups and their effects.
1. The employees were not trained specifically in how to approach a follow up call. They were found wanting in areas which are crucial to making a positive impression. Often, they were unable to establish a personal connection with the client, leading to lots of prospects opting out.
2. There was no database maintained to document previous call outcomes, so the agent had to recount from memory the discussion that had already ensued. Sometimes, they missed out details in this manner which worked against them.
3. The agents approached a follow up call as a mere checking up instead of looking to add further value. On quite a few occasions, potential customers lost interest because they were not receiving any new inputs on the matter.
The managers drafted a list of solutions to counter the problems they experienced.
1. Employees were informed how exactly they were expected to approach follow up calls. They were given tips on how to stand out from the crowd and capture the customer’s attention, and be persuasive without pestering.
2. Software was used to ease the process of documentation and retrieval of previous call outcomes, which helped the agent understand the nature of proceedings before making the actual follow up call. Agents noted down pertinent points after the initial call, so that it would come in handy during subsequent calls to the same customer.
3. Because all previous conversations were well documented, the agents could now explain any details in a step-wise procedure, ensuring that some value was being tangibly added every time a call took place. In this way, the customer also remained interested in the product.
Within three months of formal training and implementation of call center software, the results started becoming positive. Follow up cycles were increasing, more customers were staying in touch.
In the next year, the company saw an 8% growth in sales, with the conversion ratio up from the last year. By the end of two years the growth rate was over 10% compared to the previous setup.
Follow up calls are an indispensable part of any successful call center. They are the essence of what telemarketing is supposed to achieve. Therefore, it is important for a call center to attach significant importance to the art of crafting the perfect follow up call.