GasboxDMG managing director, Chris Hancock, explains how outsourcing the testing of customer communication improvement concepts to a ‘laboratory’ environment can provide a dedicated forum for brands to perfect new approaches.
Brands, and their senior level executives, are under enormous pressure to deliver improvements on customer satisfaction and retention levels, increase acquisition rates, enhance service provision and maximise cross and up-sales opportunities.
Consequently, and as a result of working so closely to the call centre, its people and the tactics being used, these executives will have their own ideas and inspirations as to how the proposition or approach can be positively improved.
However the usual barriers get in their way; doing their day job, gaining the necessary internal support and permission to trial new ideas, freeing up enough in the way of resource, and actually developing the concept into a practical solution.
Even if these steps can be achieved and a test campaign gets underway, the entire endeavour can often fail because of external pressures, not least the need to meet the next quarter’s targets.
However, outsourcing the testing of new concepts and enhancements to a dedicated environment can be a successful yet cost efficient solution.
How can a ‘laboratory’ approach help?
By its very nature, an externally managed laboratory can be the ideal place for those internally generated ideas to be recognised, embellished, refined or expanded, without suffering the constrictions that would usually be present within a call centre itself.
A new concept can be put through rigorous and independent trials and judged impartially to deliver a proven case which can ultimately be rolled out on a wider scale, all without having an impact on the day to day operations of the existing call centre.
Crucially data can be collected and examined so every aspect of output can be compared with that already being delivered by the call centre. Cost, revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, level of advocacy and retention are all clear outcomes providing the basics of a business case which can be presented back to the organisation; clear proof of the suitability of a new approach or a shelved one.
Either way, what was simply a concept or hypothesis has now been taken to a point of conclusion, without interfering with what’s already going on in the call centre.
One of the most significant benefits of outsourcing to a laboratory environment is gaining access to external resources such as human, expert and technological at a fraction of the cost of most call centre innovations.
Where can outsourcing to a laboratory benefit? An example
In the case of a b2b outbound project, the organisation may already be generating a satisfactory number of leads with its in-house or outsourced call centre, but wants this to improve further. One option could be to enhance the approach with digital techniques, such as the use of personalised email.
Instead of simply calling each new contact, offering the relevant product or service, and moving on if they decline, the agent could ask if they’d like to receive further information by email (especially useful if the contact is time poor and unable to give their full attention during the call).
With the right technology and collateral, the agent could ask for the contact’s email address, and send them a personalised communication, based on the conversation which took place.
Once sent, the agent can then monitor the email, and once opened by the contact, call back to further the conversation and ultimately secure their interest (either passing the ‘hot lead’ onto the sales team, or closing the sale themselves).
This seems straightforward enough, but if the organisation does not have the systems and technology in place, it will need to test the concept to prove its value, before investing in the necessary tools and training.
Using an external laboratory, where the required digital technology is already installed, enables a carefully controlled and monitored test to take place. The organisation can examine the associated costs with a clear understanding of the likely results of such an investment.
Organisations strive to improve everything they do, and the performance of the call centre, whether in-house or outsourced, is another important element which should be considered.
But instead of trying to test and learn from new ideas within an existing set up, using an outsourced environment can be of huge benefit to this improvement process. In the b2b arena, a laboratory could support the enhancement of a current outbound (or inbound) campaign, or even be used to develop and set up a completely new voice activity.
Organisations shouldn’t let their creativity be curbed by practical and operational barriers, especially not when the rewards on offer are only a few steps away.
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