Nifty Outbound Contact Center Ideas from Customers

In preparation for last month’s Interactive Intelligence Interactions ’10 User Forum, I got on the phone with many different customers to ask for some ideas that I could share with other customers.  I was looking for best practices and nifty ideas related to outbound and blended dialing.  Our customers did not disappoint and below are some of the insights:

  • Use an automated outbound campaign to verify toll free numbers.  What a creative use of the dialer!  One customer has a call list containing their ~8000 toll free numbers.  The campaign runs automatically each morning and informs the administrators if calling any of these numbers fails to reach the appropriate IVR at the other end.
  • Have a contest with your agents to see who has the best voice and can leave the best message for your customers.  Then have the best few agents record a set of messages to be left on machines.
  • When leaving automated messages, change the message each time you leave it according to a schedule.  I know this is not a new idea, but I’m surprised how many companies continue to leave the same exact message on answering machines every few days. 
  • Make sure to put both inbound and outbound in an agent’s job description even if only hiring for inbound.  Many agents are initially afraid to do outbound dialing, but some find the experience isn’t bad at all and, in many cases, is easier than inbound.  Blending often varies an agent’s day leading to less monotony.
  • Focus on agent habits when working to manage and minimize abandoned calls.  For instance, how can you set up your system to detect that an agent has walked away from his/her desk without changing status to not available? (e.g. be creative w/ PC inactivity events and force status change)
  • Don’t micro-manage the dialer – let it do it’s job.  This assumes your dialer can manage itself (speed up and slow down as contact rates, agent pool size, handle times, etc change).
  • An increase in outbound dialing has a measurable impact on inbound calls.  One customer tested the inverse of this:  they shut down a key outbound campaign for 2 hours one day, and saw a direct impact on their inbound stats in the following 3-4 hours.
  • Use a SIP carrier to dial into a foreign country.  One customer gets good rates from a global carrier allowing them to dial from the US into a South American country with the dialer and call analysis done in the US.
  • Clearly define and document your campaign and system management processes and configuration.  This may seem like a gimme, but I’m surprise how often I find that contact centers can get too busy to make notes and backups of key information.  Turning on change auditing to track when and who changed what can help manage this process, but a 3-ringed binder or even better, an intranet site, is a good place to consistently document configuration changes, set ups used each day, etc.  Get the entire admin and supervisory teams on the same page keeping track of how and what your contact center does.

Talking to customers always gets me pumped up to share ideas as well as add more capabilities to our products to allow customers to be even more productive and creative… and successful.

I would be interested in hearing other ideas like the above or your experience with any of the above.

Matt Taylor