If you’re running a lead gen or outbound sales operation, your bottom line is always going to be top-of-mind. But to get your ROI where it needs to be, you first need to be able to ask the right questions of your business and the decision-makers involved.
At LeadsCon 2022 in Las Vegas, Convoso CEO and Co-Founder Nima Hakimi hosted a panel discussion about just those questions. Joined by Rob Bayer, President of Anomaly Squared, and Brian Roulstone, SVP, Call Product & Operations at SmartFinancial, Hakimi led a conversation about “The Questions You Should Be Asking Your Dialer Manager to Boost Your Profits.”
The panel of outbound call center experts touched on how to take your call center’s profits to the next level by focusing questions on four key areas of performance:
- Contact Rate
- Lead and List Management
- Visibility Into Results
- Agent Morale and Efficiency
Luckily, even if you couldn’t make it to LeadsCon, you can watch the video here and/or review below the key insights they shared on how to improve dialer management.
1. Contact Rate
If you can’t get customers and leads on the phone, you can’t really expect to turn a profit. Figuring out why your contact rate isn’t where you want it to be starts with having the right conversations with your dialer manager—and equipping them with the right tools.
These days, the reputation of your caller IDs should be a regular topic of conversation with operations managers. “DID reputation management is a huge deal. It’s affecting everybody’s business,” says Roulstone.
With call blocking and flagging issues running rampant, the panel agreed that dialer managers need technology that helps them understand how their own call center performance is being affected. For instance, caller ID reputation management tools that show which numbers are blocked or flagged—and by which carriers—can help teams make real-time decisions about swapping these out clean numbers.
Equally important, according to Hakimi, is having access to a DID coverage report. This enables dialer managers to compare the quantity of caller IDs in a given area with those numbers’ call volumes. Using the metric of 50 calls per area code, per carrier, per day as a rule of thumb, call center leaders can pose questions to their dialer managers about adequate DID coverage.
2. Lead and List Management
As a business scales and grows, the task of lead and list management only becomes more and more complex: Once you’re buying and generating leads from a range of sources, you might accumulate a lead database that includes hundreds of thousands of leads. Not only that, you’re likely to have a variety of lead types in the mix, including high-intent, low-intent, exclusive, shared, and more.
So, how do you work with a data or dialer manager to make sure they’re making the most of this complexity and scale?
Rob Bayer says one of the first questions to ask your dialer manager is, “Can I send my top-performing leads to my top-performing agents?” On the one hand, the answer to this question hinges on whether your call center possesses smart, skills-based routing technology. On the other, it has to do with more general lead and list management strategies that can help you make the best use of your increasingly large and complex lead database.
One of these strategic areas to question your dialer manager about is lead prioritization. That is, how are they working to prioritize high-quality leads? Plus, how are they accounting for “speed to lead” and incorporating newly generated leads?
To these questions of lead prioritization, Bayer recommends always adopting the strategy of “last in, first out.” This helps make sure that when a new lead is in, it’s getting to an agent right away. Of course, even with this strategy in place across your operation, you’ll still have more questions to bring to your dialer manager.
Another of these important topics for discussion is your operation’s dialing rate or lead load—the number of outbound dialing lines you have per agent at any given time. While the panelists agreed that the right lead load ratio will vary from business to business and from day to day, Bayer stated that his team tries to keep theirs in the 2.5 to 5 line per agent range. This range, he says, is a sweet spot that can optimize for contacts while avoiding over giving agents too much to handle and minimizing wait times.
Some dialer managers, however, may tend toward a higher lead load, which can be a drag on lead efficiency. Hakimi advises that, in these cases, you should really be mindful of why you need that many lines.
Hakimi says to ask your dialing manager, “‘Why are you looking to dial at 10, 15, 20 lines per agent?’ Oftentimes what we find is that if you don’t have visibility into what’s happening with all these calls, you’re just burning through leads. That is, you shouldn’t need those 10 or 15 lines.”
Typically, resorting to this number of open lines is a result of two issues: either the quality of your leads is bad or the carriers being used are not processing all of your calls. By working with your dialer manager to understand why they might want to increase the lead load so high in the first place, you can identify issues that might be holding back performance. In the end, you can avoid burning through costly leads too quickly.
Redial Settings and Call Cadence
A high lead load isn’t the only way your manager might dial through leads too quickly, however. It’s also critical to work with your team to optimize redialing settings and call cadences.
Once again, though, while the panelists highlighted the importance of having these conversations, they emphasized that there aren’t necessarily easy answers to questions of call cadence.
According to Bayer, redialing is “definitely not one-size-fits-all. Every lead is going to be a little different…The sweet spot for us in most cases is about 7 or 8 [attempts per lead]. But really, what we’re finding is it’s not how many times you’re dialing, it’s the length of time between the dials that’s making a significant difference, as well as incorporating other methods of communication, whether it’s texting or emailing.”
Even once you find one redial and omnichannel approach that works, though, getting your cadences right will always remain a work-in-progress. What works one week might not work the next. So, consistent communication with your dialer manager is critical. As Roulstone puts it, “You’ve got to constantly be thinking about and working to figure out ‘How do I get the most efficacy out of these particular leads?’”
“Breaking up patterns is very important. You want to be very strategic with how you go about redial attempts,” says Nima Hakimi. Technology can help here. “Having the ability to automate that process with your dialer manager is something we’re seeing is very important. You can’t just go blindly anymore. And that’s something we still see to this day—everybody just keeps dialing and dialing and dialing. You want to move away from that; that strategy no longer works.”
3. Visibility Into Results
Hakimi says that, too frequently, call centers rely on feelings rather than hard data to guide their decisions: “Oftentimes we have this thought or picture about what’s happening in the call center. There’s this approach of running the call center based on feelings and emotions. We’re getting a sense of what’s happening with agents, which is important. But if you don’t look within, if you don’t dive deeper into the results to see what’s happening, how do you really know what’s affecting your business’s performance?”
Analyze at Performance by Lead Source
Lacking the right call center reporting tools leaves you without data to improve decisions. It can also lead to a classic blame game when things go wrong: “The agents say it’s the leads, and the lead provider says it’s the agent. You’re constantly fighting that battle,” says Bayer.
To get closer to the truth of the matter, Bayer says you need to be able to ask your dialer manager about performance at a lead source level. This level of granularity will help you and your dialer manager segment performance data and truly understand which areas of your operation need improvement.
Understand Your CPA
Equally important, according to the panel, is having visibility into your CPA. or Cost Per Acquisition. According to Roulstone, “[SmartFinancial] really tries to boil it down to fully loaded costs for each transfer—agent costs, supervisor overhead, technology. This way we have a sense of what our margins are like for every warm transfer that we execute.”
Not just any insight into CPA will do, of course. Hakimi discussed the importance of being able to see these call center costs and your ROI on an hourly basis. “If you can break it down that way, you can tell how certain agents are performing versus others.”
This transparency into changes in CPA also gives you and your dialer manager greater flexibility. Hakimi reported how Convoso users are utilizing improved call center reporting abilities to make real-time decisions and drive greater ROI. “We find that, with this strategy, our partners can turn certain lists on and off on a regular basis—even sometimes every hour on the hour, or even sooner, just as they see the revenue per hour drop.”
4. Agent Morale and Efficiency
This real-time action that drives ROI underscores how dialer managers serve as a crucial link between business leaders and agents. That’s also why being able to ask the right questions and empower the decisions that improve agent morale is essential for contact center leaders.
Keeping Agents (Reasonably) Busy
According to Bayer, part of the dialer manager’s role here goes back to things discussed early. Namely, he says, maintaining agent morale and efficiency starts with proper lead management. That is, if you can’t keep agents in rhythm with a consistent lead load, you’re basically asking for morale issues.
Bayer says his business is “constantly working with dialer managers to understand, ‘How do we make sure that when lead volume is lower in one campaign that it’s high in another? How do we turn that [other campaign] on and make sure that agents are staying busy?’”
Technology’s Role in Agent Morale and Efficiency
Once again, agent morale and healthy utilization rates can’t be achieved consistently without the right technology. Roulstone says that call centers need an outbound dialer software on their side that can automatically flag issues like agents sitting on dead calls or taking extended breaks.
Bayer echoed this, saying it’s an important topic to address with your dialer manager. “Dialing platforms—the good ones—can tip you off to agents who are beyond a certain amount of time…and sometimes they can automatically log them out. So make sure you’re speaking to your dialer manager about what those settings should be. Talking about this every day is really, really important to drive utilization as high as you can get it.”
Not only will this information make it easier for managers to address issues of performance and inefficiency—they’ll also be able to identify issues negatively affecting morale. And as we’ve seen throughout the panel’s discussion, awareness is the first step toward creating solutions—solutions that drive profits and growth.