Email, web, social, paid search, display, print ads, billboards, radio and TV….these are the tools of the trade for most B2C marketers today. Instead of using these channels to push out campaign after campaign, smart marketers are tying these channels together to create a consistent customer experience.

But even smart marketers are missing a trick — they don’t consider the call center to be a marketing channel. Enterprise companies are having phone conversations with thousands of prospects every day, but these interactions often remain siloed in the ‘customer experience’ or ‘customer service’ arm of the organization.

This disjointed customer experience is negatively affecting marketing ROI and revenue. It doesn’t have to be this way.

For companies in high-consideration industries like financial services, telco and healthcare, there’s a lot of revenue at stake. Marketers can’t afford to dismiss the call center as untouchable or too difficult to integrate with. Check out the financial gains of companies that excel at influencing the customer experience across channels.

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LuanFor this post, I interviewed Invoca’s call center guru Luan Vieira to give marketers a clear understanding of how enterprise call centers work, how to best approach working with your call center team, and the benefits (and ease!) of connecting Invoca’s Voice Marketing Cloud to your call center and IVR system.

Q: What’s important to know about how enterprise call centers work?

A: Enterprise call centers can be centralized, with all their agents in one place, or they can be scattered through multiple regional call centers. Some even outsource to other countries, but it mostly depends on the industry. For example, finance and insurance companies have local call centers in North America because of the sensitive nature of the information being shared on a call. In industries that deal with less sensitive information, outsourcing is a safe and inexpensive option.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a big part of call centers because most of the time one agent can’t handle all different types of requests. Therefore the IVR is in place to make sure the call gets routed to the team that has the skill-set to either help the caller. IVRs also help create a streamlined customer experience that in turn drives revenue: if the agent knows who you are and why you’re calling, they are more likely to convert the call to a sale.

Most enterprise call centers will make use of a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) not only for tracking phone calls but for managing staff. Enterprise-grade CTIs are responsible for:

  • Equally distributing calls across agents
  • Routing the call to the correct agent
  • Monitoring how many callers are in the queue, on hold, etc.

If you visit a call center, you’ll notice TVs that project the CTI board on them, so there’s full transparency about how much each agent is working at all times. Everyone can see who’s on a call, who’s in queue, who is not getting calls, etc. Call center agents live and die by that board.

Ideally, the call center wants to drive down duration to handle as many calls as possible but also maintain good quality calls. Their most important KPIs involve:

  • Queue hold time
  • Abandoned calls
  • Average call duration

Q: How can the call center and marketing teams best partner with each other?

A: Typically there’s some friction between the marketing and call center teams, mostly due to marketing’s dependence on the call center to convert leads. Nonetheless, few marketers actually dial their call center to observe what the caller experience is like and if it’s consistent with their marketing.

Marketers should foster a good relationship with the call center and not simply throw leads over the fence. A productive relationship between marketing and call center teams can help both sides understand where they can improve to increase conversion rates. Here are some immediate opportunities for collaboration:

Lead Tracking, CRM integration: Most marketers want to ensure all inbound phone leads are recorded in a CRM system, and to make sure that each lead is associated with the appropriate marketing initiative.

Duplicate leads: Any technology used to answer inbound calls can be an entry point for leads, and CRM systems typically manage such leads. If the inbound call software and the CRM are not integrated, this can lead to duplication of leads. There are software solutions to ‘de-dupe’ this data, but ideally, the lead workflow is consistent and managed by one technology.

Dynamic call flow: CTIs and IVRs normally work together to connect the caller to the right agent. This typically means walking the caller through a series of questions, which means there’s a lot of room to lose the call or create a bad experience. In the mobile era, some marketers refer to the IVR as the new landing page, meaning marketers should put in as much work towards optimizing the IVR for conversion as they put towards optimizing the landing page.

Q: If a marketer wants to purchase a technology like Invoca, what should they understand about the call center?

A: A marketer who is adopting Invoca should have a clear understanding of the different ways calls are delivered to the call center. A call may only get to the call center if the caller went to a specific web page, or if they clicked on a paid search ad for example.

The marketer should also know whether they can send any data about the caller to the call center. Some call center technology can accept incoming data from sources like Invoca. If this is the case, Invoca can provide agents with rich insights about the caller like where the caller is from, if they are calling from the shopping cart page, etc. Call centers that cannot accept incoming data can have call data sent to their CRM and/or analytics platform.

Marketers should also be sensitive that they’re not the call center’s only customer. It’s very important that marketers provide business context to the call center so they understand the value the marketing team is bringing.

Q: Can you describe how Invoca connects with the call center? What does the marketer need to do to ensure a seamless set-up of Invoca?

A: All you need is a phone that accepts inbound calls. Even as simple as an agent’s cell phone number. You can also connect to a CTI that has sophisticated call handling and routing. Calls can be delivered over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or via Invoca’s SIP integration. The benefit of SIP integration is that the Invoca customer saves on telecom costs tied to delivering the call to their phone system.

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Q: Describe some of the benefits of having Invoca connected to the call center

A: The ability for agent to have more informed, personalized discussions

Depending on the CRM or CTI the call center uses, Invoca can send rich caller data to the call center. This can include simple things like the caller name and address to more sophisticated information like which web pages that caller has seen or which ad drove that call.

Routing high priority calls

Invoca can also provide the call center with other valuable information such as whether the user is calling directly from an online cart. One of our enterprise customers in the TV/cable industry has seen conversion rates improve 100x when routing these high intent callers directly to an agent instead of making them go through an IVR.

Ability to deploy Invoca Signal to gather and apply conversation insights in real-time

Invoca Signal enables marketers to automatically capture custom, actionable insights from
hundreds of data points on every phone call and live voice conversation, such as whether someone is an active shopper, a hot prospect, or mentioned a specific product but did not purchase.

For example, signals can be created and used prior to the call to identify high intent callers and route them directly to an agent, or after the call to bucket them on retargeting lists and/or create lookalike audiences.

A bad caller experience or a lack of alignment between marketing and the call center could be costing more than you think. It’s time to bridge the online-offline gap and put the customer experience first. Here’s to a new friendship between marketers and the call center!

Laura Schierberl

Posted by Laura Schierberl

Laura Schierberl is director of content marketing and communications at Invoca. Prior to that she held positions at Oracle, Responsys and Hill & Knowlton where she honed her skills in all things PR, content and social media. Laura earned a B.A. in Spanish and Communications at Wake Forest University. Fun facts: she loves crime TV shows and her labrador has dabbled in modeling.

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