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Even Inbound Contact Centers Need To Cultivate the Art of Outbound to Keep Customers
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Even Inbound Contact Centers Need To Cultivate the Art of Outbound to Keep Customers

May 19, 2015
By Tracey E. Schelmetic
TMCnet Contributor

While some companies will say they operate strictly inbound contact centers and others focus only on outbound, the truth is that inbound drives outbound and vice-versa. There are few contact centers that can (or should) remain a one-way street if customers are to be kept happy. An inbound customer support center, for example, may have strong reasons to occasionally reach out to customers: in the case of callbacks during busy times, abandoned calls, or a classic “irate customer pacification” scenario.

Customer recovery may not be a task that anyone looks forward to, but it’s a distinct skill – some agents are good at it – and it’s a necessary evil if the goal if customer retention for the contact center. This is the moment when an inbound contact center becomes an outbound contact center, according to Emily Hunter, SEM Strategist and Outreach Supervisor at Marketing Zen in a recent blog post for Zopim.

“Customer recovery. Nobody likes to hear those words, but it’s something which happens to those who have even the best of intentions,” wrote Hunter. “Put simply, it’s the art of calling a mad customer off the ‘ledge’ of going to another company or screaming at you. Everybody who’s ever been in customer service has faced an irate customer. Through listening to that customer’s concerns, the rep learns a little bit about how to handle the next situation better. The best experience, sad to say, is through trial by fire. Through that fire, employees becoming better.”

It’s a bit like taking medicine: it may not be pleasant, but in the long run, it’s good for you. For the company, it means keeping a customer it otherwise would have lost. For the agents, the challenge of successfully “talking a customer back from the ledge” helps the employee feel vindicated and skilled, and a valuable asset to the company. This raises employee motivation, according to Hunter.

“If everyone in your support team is dedicated to improving customer satisfaction levels by learning from customer interaction, motivation will rise because there are will be a decrease in the number of angry customers to deal with,” she wrote. “Morale becomes higher and employees become more motivated when they’re not feeling like they have arrows fired at them.”

In the long run, a program of outbound customer outreach, particularly for dissatisfied or partially satisfied customers, can build a more loyal customer base, create a more skilled and engaged workforce, and even present cross-sell and upsell opportunities that can raise revenue.

“When businesses are keen on learning from their customer support team, operational procedures begin to change,” wrote Hunter. “All of those great practices observed from interactions with customers become codified within the company culture.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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