As the Marketing Coordinator for Westpark Communications, I wanted to give our readers insight into what it is like when organizations align their business goals with an outsourcing call center. I had the honor of interviewing Mary, one of our outbound agents, who explains which outbound campaigns generate the most opportunity for retaining leads and what business owners can do to help make the most out of their campaigns. Here is the transcript below:
Joined the Westpark Team in 2013
Diana: Before Westpark Communications, what was your first call center job like?
Mary: My first call center job was for an outbound call center. What we used to do there was lead generation. They had several different companies that worked within their business. We would call people on an automatic dialer and would cold call night and day.
Diana: What is the difference between an inbound call center and an outbound call center?
Mary: I’ve actually worked at both. The difference between the two is that with an inbound call center, the callers are calling us. We’re taking their information. We’re in control of the call.
The outbound call centers work off of an automatic dialer. You can’t control it. It just keeps going. We’re physically making the call to that lead.
Diana: So, which do you like better?
Mary: My preference is what I do now, which is to work in an inbound call center but do the outbound work for them. Westpark does not work off of an automatic dialer so what I do now is the perfect balance.
Diana: Westpark is an inbound call center but we also perform outbound calls. We’re not autodialing.
Mary: Right. We call outbound when the company requests us to do so or gives us campaigns and projects to work with. For example, a company can give us a list of 300 customers to call and inquire if they are still interested in their product or services.
Diana: There is a fine line between cold calling and lead qualifying. Where does Westpark stand in this line when it comes to outbound campaigns?
Mary: We definitely are qualifying leads. Almost all of the projects we have come from the customer base. I wouldn’t consider it cold, but definitely qualifying.
Diana: Outbound calling. Do you think it works?
Mary: I think outbound calling works, but it depends on how relevant the information is. A company may come to us and say, “Hey, I have 500 leads. But these leads are from four or five months ago.” It’s harder to get those leads to convert into opportunities because it was so long ago.
I don’t think qualifying leads is hard if they give us leads as they come in. For instance, if a list of people inquired about their company, we can reach out to them. The leads that are assigned to us within the month, we are reaching those leads. But after a certain amount of time, they are no longer relevant. The people probably forgot about it.
Diana: So the newer leads the better?
Mary: When leads are new, they are hot. They are instant. If we work with leads that inquired less than 45 days from our follow up, the lead is more receptive and I am able to keep their interest longer because the product/the inquiry is still fresh in their mind.
Diana: What helps drive success in generating leads?
Mary: What helps is receiving as much information as we can. The more knowledge we [the live answer agents] have on the company, the more knowledgeable we sound.
So if someone calls with a random question, we can answer it rather than say, "Oh, I’m not quite sure." If there are certain things they [our business customers] don’t want us to say, then we know not to say certain things.
It is better to know the information and be able to throw it out there if needed, then to not know it all. You end up losing the lead because you did not have some information that the caller needed right then and there.
Diana: That’s good. So the way organizations can improve the lead process is to get as much information as they can to us [Westpark] before launching a campaign.
Mary: Exactly. More background information about the company and the different processes of how the product works would be helpful. Knowing the anatomy of the product will help aid in retaining the leads.
Diana: What campaigns have driven the most success in the past?
Mary: For the outbound calls that I personally was successful with, they would give us a good script. I had good information and I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. And that’s the most important thing.
Diana: That makes all the difference in the world.
Mary: If we have a little flexibility rather than saying the script verbatim, that helps too. When we are on the phone, we want to sound fluid because I am not just an extension of the business. I am the business. I am the receptionist. Everytime I take a call, I put myself in that mindframe. Everytime I get on a project I want the callers to know that I know what I’m talking about.