ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Expert's Angle: Blended and Outbound Call Centers Series: Outbound Campaign Design

This series will explore various aspects of Outbound and Blended Call Centers. While every attempt to give general terms and general examples is being made, the reader should be aware that specifics may be different for every type of call center, business operation or strategic purpose of the center. The articles in this series are meant to be a guideline for those seeking to learn more about Outbound and Blended Call Centers.

Related ICMI Resources:
Blending in the Call Center: Benefits, Barriers and Breakthroughs
ICMI's 2011 Call Center Practices for Pairing and Blending Inbound, Outbound, and Service and Sales Report
Finding Call Center Efficiencies in the Pooling Principle

Outbound Campaign Design

Outbound campaign design shares some similarities with that of inbound call centers, however there are some distinctive differences. Similar to inbound call centers, outbound and blended centers need to understand what drives inbound calls; however, outbound and blended centers have a greater control over those drivers. Outbound and blended centers also need to fully understand the impact of the contact channels that they are using to determine effectiveness as well as efficiency.

Campaign Design

Today's outbound call centers have many different channels at their disposal, including: dialers, virtual agent messaging, IVR based dialing, text messaging, direct mail campaigns, email campaigns and web chat. These multi-modal contact channels need to be fully understood to determine what their strategic use is.

  • Dialers. Dialer campaigns are the most expensive channels, but are also the most useful and effective when it comes to influencing urgency in a collection activity and persuasiveness in a sales environment. Dialers also offer opportunities for a loyalty and retention operation. This is due specifically to the very human touch of speaking to a real person.
  • Virtual Agents. Virtual agent campaigns are great to user in reminder campaigns. For example, when we send out broadcast messages for sales.
  • IVR-Based Dialing. IVR-based dialing increases RPC rates and offers multi-channel messaging for wrong party contacts.
  • Text Messages/SMS. Text messages are also great for reminder campaigns and are extremely cost effective.
  • Direct Mail. Direct mail campaigns are becoming less and less attractive due to the cost and difficulty in tracking results back to the campaign. With new advances in the ability to track other channels, the use of direct mail campaigns is quickly being relegated to departments such as legislative,policy adherence and compliance.
  • Email. Email campaigns are also a good tool for reminder and message broadcast campaigns, especially since responses can be tracked.

Each of these channels share common characteristics; most importantly they all have the ability to transmit to a large audience a desired "call to action," which is the crux of every outbound contact campaign. There are several common considerations for outbound contacts as well as basic rules that should be followed. Each outbound campaign, regardless of channel, should have the following four components:

1. Clear Strategic Intent
Every time a campaign is created, Strategy and Operations must ask, "Why we are contacting the client/potential client?" and "Is the strategic intent of the outbound campaign to build sales, increase revenue, stop churn, provide loyalty and retention offerings?" From here, a proper channel for the contact can be selected.

2. Legislative and Regulatory Compliance
Many sales environments, including loyalty and retention calls and all collections centers, have some form of legislative or regulatory requirements to follow when contacting a client or potential client. Every outbound contact, regardless of channel must meet these legislative and/or regulatory requirements.

3. Employment of Sales/Collection/Retention Psychology
Regardless of the type of outbound center that you have, there is a form of "psychology" employed to achieve the goal of the contact. For example: Collection calls employ urgency and sales calls employ enticement. When using this psychology in an outbound campaign, it should be woven throughout the campaign, from scripting for the agents or message to the overall type of campaign put in place.

4. Clear call to action
The call to action links back to the reason that the business is calling the client, the "Why." If it is a sales call, then we want them to buy. If it is a collections call, then we want them to pay. These are calls to action at the highest level, but there is another level to be considered. Based on channel the campaign should have a clear choice as to what action is being requested of the client. For example, in a collection environment, a text message can remind a client to pay and drive them to the closest ATM to achieve that. However, if they are a higher risk then it may have a call to action that requires the client to call into the blended call center. It is at this level that the campaign call to action needs to be considered. High-risk churn or high-risk collections may have a different call to action then a low risk churn or low risk collection activity.

Blended call centers can use contact channels to automate certain interactions and in this way manage their costs and allocation of agents proactively. This is one of the many reasons why blended call centers are being set up, to have a greater strategic reach into the consumer market.