Cutter was joined by Convoso CEO and Co-founder, Nima Hakimi, in a recent episode Dialer Strategies for Call Center Success. To save you time, we’ve culled and condensed some of the highlights below from the experts’ almost hour-long conversation.
During the interview, Cutter and Hakimi touched on topics such as:
- The biggest challenges facing today’s contact centers
- Dialer strategies and best practices to avoid flagged calls
- How to fight call center agent turnover
See some of the top questions and answers below, or head over to the Cutter Consulting Group site to listen to the full conversation.
Blocked and Flagged Calls: The Challenge for Today’s Call Centers
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’re seeing contact centers face right now?
Nima Hakimi: I think the biggest one, which is probably obvious, is that many people don’t want to pick up the phone anymore. Which is interesting when you think about it, because if a consumer is interested in your product or service, and they’re filling out a form online, you’d think that they want to take that call. But because so many caller IDs are being flagged or labeled as “spam” or “scam,” that sense of confidence has gone down.
The bad actors out there have really ruined everything for legitimate businesses. Telco carriers have taken matters into their own hands and are deciding which calls should go through or not—or be blocked. So, that’s probably at the forefront of everything that every call center that’s doing lead gen is facing.
It’s always a challenging environment to be on the phones and selling. It’s difficult to be an agent; there’s a high turnover rate. But this is certainly making it tougher.
Dialer Strategies to Manage Caller ID Reputation
Q: What is the solution that you’ve come up with to help with identifying numbers that have been flagged?
NH: There are many different things you can do.
For starters, you need to have technology that gives you the insights into your caller IDs’ health, letting you know which carriers are blocking or flagging them. For instance, Convoso has a dashboard that lets you know this information.
What’s even more important is learning about flagging and blocking in as close to real time as possible, so that you can quickly fix it—meaning you can rest DIDs or replace them with clean numbers. And even this isn’t perfect. The challenge right now is so great that you will still get new numbers that are already flagged.
But by being able to be alerted of the issue and replace [bad numbers] in a timely manner, you can minimize the damage done to our leads. This is especially important if you’re generating real-time leads because when a person is filling out a form, if you don’t get a hold of that person and now you have to wait X number of days, chances are you’re not going to concert that lead. That’s going to have a significant impact on your ROI.
Best Practices to Avoid Call Flagging
Q: Beyond those strategies, what about ways to not have numbers flagged at all? Are there best practices for not even getting on that bad list, or is it arbitrary?
NH: Nobody has the exact formula behind why your calls get flagged. But generally, the more calls you make with the same number, the more likely it’s a call being made using an automated system rather than manually.
So, we wish legitimate businesses didn’t have to go through the process of having to use these strategies to not make it appear as though it’s an automated system. But because of the bad actors, you have to apply these best practices.
You should maintain a certain number of calls per day with each caller ID, and you want to lower that number. What we do at Convoso is look at the overall leads you have in your database and where you’re calling them. And we make a recommendation on how many numbers you should get in what geographies so that you reduce the load on each phone number.
Another best practice is to use omnichannel. If you’re generating real-time leads, maybe you don’t want to call them in the first attempt. Instead, you text them to let you know who you are and then say, “We noticed you just filled out a form, we would like to set up a call with you.”
You want to have strategies in place that automate the outreach process and an omnichannel approach where you set up a sequence of events that uses texting, emailing, and calls. And then know when to stop that sequence the moment there’s a contact made or whatever you define as success on a lead, so you don’t continue to harass and annoy that person.
Q: With these options available, why do companies still use the old approach of calling people, let’s say, 50 times?
NH: For one, it’s habit. This is what’s worked in the past. So, some just want to continue doing what’s worked for us in the past.
Others just don’t have enough data, or their system does not give them the insights. A lot of contact centers just say, “We need to get X number of sales.” But they don’t go deeper into the data, including some of their costs. They don’t look at their reporting enough to figure out where they should change. So, I think it’s a combination of the technology they’re using and not knowing better—being stuck in old habits.
Fighting Call Center Agent Turnover
Q: So, the second part that you brought in, as far as challenges that you see in the call center space, is turnover. What sorts of strategies and technologies can help fight turnover?
NH: In my mind, these days, a lot of it has to do with the quality and types of leads agents are calling. While we all want more leads, you have to find a balance between getting high quality leads—the people who are truly interested in your product or service—versus lower intent leads who may or may not be. And you need to apply different approaches to these leads and not put them in the same bucket. This is very important so that the agents calling both types of leads are more successful.
Jason Cutter: Right. I’ve been in enough centers where you see reps who are tired of rejection. And what’s interesting is I’ve seen some high-volume outbound sales centers where, when agents do get somebody who is interested in talking longer than 30 or 60 seconds, the rep is just out of the game. They’re out of shape, if you will—when that opportunity does come up, they’re not ready for it because they’re just used to being punched in the face for a while, whether it’s a half-hour or three hours. It’s like being called off the bench to hit the game-winning shot.
NH: The momentum that you’re talking about needs to be there for agents to be in rhythm and at their best. It’s at the heart of everything.
If your calls are getting connected with people who are mostly not interested, an even bigger challenge for agents is getting too many voicemails. It’s important to have highly accurate answering machine detection technology.You have to play around with it a bit and make sure that you’re not getting too many voicemails that are transferred to agents. They will get frustrated and tired, and they’ll lose that momentum.
Q: What do you say to contact center owners or leaders that don’t think these strategies apply to them, or that don’t want to change?
NH: If you’re looking at a solution like ours, the only true way you’ll ever know what’s on the other side is by doing a comparison. You have got to give it a test and see for yourself what the difference is.
You’re getting by today. But it’s really becoming a bigger challenge to keep up with all of these changes because, again, carriers and regulators are taking matters into their own hands. They’re deciding your fate.
So, you really have to understand that if you don’t make a change to solve these challenges, you might not be in business very soon from now. It’s not if, it’s a matter of when—so you really have to be more proactive about looking at what kinds of solutions are out there to change that.