Re-examine Your Call-Center Practices, Part 2
In the second part of this series on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your call center as a sales channel, this week I provide tips on how to increase your call-to-order ratio.
(For part 1, click here.)
Not every prospect who calls your call center actually places an order. We all should strive for a 100 percent call-to-order (CTO) ratio. But due to the nature of the call center itself, with its inherent imperfections in technology and human behavior, 100 percent conversion is virtually impossible.
So let’s explore how to increase your CTO, increase your average sale and make sure you’re leaving no revenue on the table when prospecting.
To start, let’s identify the four types of prospect calls that will come into your call center:
1. calls answered where an order occurs;
2. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data captured by the customer service rep (CSR);
3. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data not captured by the CSR; and
4. calls not answered where no order occurs (calls abandoned).
For today, we’re going to concentrate on No. 4, abandoned calls.
When an inbound call to the call center is abandoned, often there’s a record of that call. That record, much like caller ID, is called automatic number identification (ANI). This service identifies the phone number of the caller. Check with your IT or telephony staff to see if your system has ANI capture.
First comes the gut check and then the business decision. Other than a wrong number, a good portion of these people had some reason for calling your call center. Maybe you took too long to answer the call, maybe your call choices weren’t clear enough, but whatever the case, no human contact was made.
Presented With a Dilemma …
If you had the opportunity to mail a catalog or some other mailer “blindly,” assuming the caller wanted some sort of information you could provide he or she with, thereby creating the opportunity for a sale, would you?
If you answered yes to the above question, there are many data vendors who can take this ANI record and reverse append an address to a phone number, thus giving you the snail mail contact info of the caller. Match rates for reverse append are between 40 percent and 60 percent (although I’ve had vendors quote me in the 30 percent range). Anyone calling from a cell phone likely won’t match, for obvious reasons.
If you choose to try this approach, test it first. As you add this to your circulation plans, assume response or revenue per book will fall somewhere between a cold list rental and a catalog request.
And as you test, make sure to test your timing. Do you want these callers to receive their catalogs right away or have some time pass so it seems more coincidental? Make a gut-check decision. This program may not fit everyone. (Even though I don’t personally believe it’s unethical, as long as it’s not personalized in a way that references their calls.)
If you deem the initial test a success, set aside some catalogs and try mailing within a few days. Another option is to add the names to your catalog request fulfillment program.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing Inc., a full-service catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert or you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.