Improving Outbound Call Center Productivity and Efficiency – Q&A with Call Center Expert Heather Griffin

Outbound contact center expert Heather Griffin knows how to dive into a call center’s operations and determine where and how they can become more productive and profitable. Her extensive experience as a call center owner, manager, consultant, and currently as the Chief Revenue Officer at Dvinci, are why we tapped her for a Q & A to cover topics around improving outbound call center productivity. And we got her on video! 

We’re delighted to bring you these tips and insights from Heather for call center operational efficiency and common mistakes to avoid. Read or watch the following questions below.

Q: How can outbound call centers increase contact rates?

A:  So as you know, this question is complicated. There’s a lot of different answers. But I’ll give you three or four of my biggest tips that I see the most rise on.

First and foremost is you need a partner, a company that understands what STIR/SHAKEN does, understands how to get something not marked spam likely, you need a really good technology and a really good partnership, someone who’s on the forefront of the changing laws. If you’re interviewing a lot of different phone systems and carriers, and you’re experiencing call blockage or spam likely, I would start by asking your current carrier or anyone you look at what their plan is for handling STIR/SHAKEN and spam likely. If you say this terminology, they don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re at the wrong place.

My second tip would be, you need to make sure that your outbound caller IDs are rotating in a large number. And what that does is it allows each outbound caller ID number to only hit X number of dials. If you keep that dial level low, you’re much less likely to get marked spam-likely.

My third tip is data, right? If you’re dialing high intent data, you’re much more likely to not be marked spam-likely. If you’re dialing penny data or low-intent data, if you’re resetting your lists too often, if you’re calling the same area over and over, you’re much more likely to get marked as spam likely or have carrier blockage.

So the most important things I would say in regards to that is data connectivity and a really great partnership.

 

Q: What are the most common list management mistakes?

A:  What people get wrong about list management is usually that they’re not looking at list management.

Unfortunately, we come from a past in which you would buy data, you’d turn the data on, and you would just dial through. So what people don’t understand in list management is there’s actually a way to be more effective to have a better use of your data. If you understand your data sources, what you’ll see is that strangely sometimes call attempt number 4 on a really good list results in more sales than call attempt 1 on a different list.

So what you need to do in list management is understand which list is converting.

If it’s not resulting in sales, it’s actually costing you twice:  It’s costing you the sales you didn’t make, but it’s also costing you in the resets on other sales you could have made on different lists.

The biggest mistake people make is not watching the list management report in real time at all times and making adjustments throughout the day.

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Q: If I buy expensive data for my outbound call center, do I still have to worry about compliance?

A:  That is a very, very complicated question with a really complicated answer. But I’ll keep it short. Yes, you do have to worry about compliance.

So we’re gonna take a look at the big laws that govern us. It’s typically the TCPA laws and the TSR laws. So the TSR laws cover things like what kind of offer are you making to get the person to fill out the opt-in? So you always need to check vendor management over and over again for compliance.

Now, there’s that original question of opt-in so that addresses the fact that people have to opt-in to be called on a dialer. Right. So that’s one thing. The second thing is, there’s compliance when it comes to your abandonment rate. There’s compliance when it comes to your outbound caller IDs, there’s compliance state by state with certain disclosures you have to give, there’s compliance when it comes to two-party notification, there’s compliance when it comes to the DNC internal and external. Compliance is a very tricky question.

There are several different third party sources like Blacklist Alliance, Trusted Form, ActiveProspect, Jornaya that can help increase your compliance overall. Long story short is that a number of different approaches are taken to have a good compliance program. That’s gonna include vendor management, dialing practices, safe harbor settings, a really good legal team, and a full picture of what compliance means.

If you buy expensive data, you still have to do compliance.

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Q: What are the most common mistakes made by outbound lead gen call centers?

A:  First, a lot of times people don’t have the right data sources. If you’re dialing on the wrong type of data, you’re never going to have the success you need.

Secondly, I’d say once you have the right data mix, knowing what kind of software and dialing methodology you should use. I see quite a few people using a click-to-comply or click-to-call on data that’s low intent. It should be run on a dialer. And vice versa, I see people run stuff in dialer, that might have better success on a click-to-comply.

So I would say making sure you have the right data, the right technology. And then you set really strong KPIs with your employees.

It’s one thing for you to know you want them off pause, it’s a different thing to have a strong KPI that incentivizes the employee to keep themselves available. The best comp plans – that’s such an important thing. The best comp plans that we have used have allowed the agents to self-monitor their own behavior. That keeps them off pause, on long talk times, and makes them aware of the cost of the data. You incentivize them by their conversion on sales to the amount of data that they take. So those are the big mistakes I see.

Another one is making sure that with every new KPI, there’s some sort of recognition. Employees love the praise. It’s hard being on the phones, I’ve done it myself. Finding new ways to keep spiffs and games, it’s just a positive culture. People leave their manager, they don’t leave their company. So if you can make it a great place to work in a call center, you’re going to retain your employees. I’ve just been in too many call centers that don’t have the culture they need to sustain long term success.

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Q: How can dialer managers make smart decisions in real time?

A:  Convoso makes a huge difference in how a dialer manager runs their day-to-day business. There are several different things that it does. But the most important is, it makes everything very visual. In addition to seeing things in real time, you can look back at them historically.

But more importantly, it alerts you when there are problems in real time.

So for example, say you’re running a list and it’s not generating any revenue, maybe you have 5, 10, 15 lists on, but this particular list is having a really great contact rate. But you’re not getting ahold of anyone. Convoso has the ability to alert you that that’s happening.

So you can make smart decisions in real time.

As we all know, we get busy, we’re doing lots of different things. Say, for example, you lose production over a period of time, say maybe that hour, you are expecting to make $5000 to $10,000 in sales, and you only made $1000.

As a dialer manager inside of Convoso, you’ll be able to go back and look at that last 30 minutes or 15 minutes and see who you’re talking to, and what list that was coming from and what did and didn’t result in sales.

 

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Q: How does Convoso help a call center executive or owner?

A:  So Convoso is unique and specific to owners because it provides high level reporting. It provides automated reporting. And most importantly, I found as a call center owner myself, that it provides historical reporting.

So let me give you some examples. Say, for example, you had a really low or slow production day. You’re not exactly sure why. If I’m an owner executive within Convoso, I can go back and select that period of time, pull a report and see what was happening during that hour.

That historical research allows me as an executive to kind of look at the picture and see where did we go wrong? Was it data? Human error? Rep performance? Bad management? Maybe we had long team meetings that went over.

So it really allows me as an owner to look back and see historically what happened. But more importantly, it can alert me.

So if I set my account up correctly, and I’m just working throughout my day, and I can get information sent straight from the dialer and email alerting me that there’s a problem. For the most part, obviously, I trust my team. But it’s always nice to know that there’s a fallback if something doesn’t go right.

 

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