Elevate Customer Loyalty (and revenue) via Proactive Outbound Contacts

Proactive outbound is the new black.

Up until relatively recently, outbound calls and messages from contact centers were typically viewed by customers as invasive – even obnoxious – shots in the dark. Impersonal ploys to make a sale. Today, however, many smart customer care organizations are being strategically proactive with their outbound initiatives, delivering personalized announcements and alerts that benefit rather than bother customers.

This is important, as recent studies suggest that bothering customers is bad for business. Those same studies have revealed that benefitting customers is good for business. Thus, by applying the transitive property of mathematics, we find that embracing a proactive and personalized outbound initiative is – say it with me – good for business.

Now all you need are a few examples of proactive outbound initiatives to inspire you to get started (if you haven’t already):

 

Welcome messages (or calls) to new customers. Welcoming new customers to the company and contact center via a friendly email, text message or phone call is a great (and easy) way to make customers feel special right off the bat. I know of one telecom company whose contact center has a Welcome Team comprised of agents who call every new customer, share the company’s customer service mission with them, and ask them for feedback on their initial experiences with the company and its contact center.

These types of actions not only give customers a warm fuzzy feeling and a strong confirmation that they have chosen a highly customer-centric company, it enables the contact center to resolve any potential issues before they become actual issues. Nothing quite like a little Zero-Call Resolution.

 

First bill explanations. Contact centers in the utility, insurance, telecom and other industries know it’s not uncommon for questions to arise and confusion to ensue after customers receive their initial bill. Consequently, many such centers reach out to first-bill recipients before those recipients reach for the throats of the center’s agents. Upon the arrival of their first bill, the customers receive an email message clearly explaining the charges, links to online resources that provide further explanation, as well as a cordial invitation to contact the company via whatever channel they prefer if they still have any questions or concerns.

Such proactive outbound messages help centers reduce billing call and email volume (and the associated costs), minimize burnout among billing agents, and show customers that your company cares about more than just the dollar amount on their bill.

 

Helpful (and often profitable) reminders. Sending customers courteous reminders about upcoming appointments, events or actions that they likely don’t want to miss or forget shows you’re looking out for them – and keeps them actively engaged in your business. Prime examples include doctor visit confirmation calls/emails, flight reminders (with a nice “Enjoy your upcoming trip!” note included), and “Don’t forget to refill” reminders for prescription drug customers.

While some reminders (such as the prescription drug one) certainly can be considered sales tactics, few customers view them as being aggressive or invasive. In fact, most customers don’t even look at it as selling at all; they simply see a company that wants to make sure nobody forgets to take their cholesterol, blood pressure or crazy pills.

 

Changes to status of orders or reservations. Customers naturally like to be kept abreast of things like when their order ships and when it’s expected to arrive. They also expect to be alerted whenever there’s been a change in things like their flight itinerary or hotel reservation (even if they aren’t thrilled about the changes). Sending these types of proactive outbound messages may not dazzle customers or cause delight, but failure to send them is almost certain to ire customers and cause dissention.

 

Personalized notifications about products/services of probable interest. This is arguably the most “salesy” of the proactive outbound strategies listed here, but it’s also a highly strategic and customer-centric one when done right. Many customers not only tolerate but look forward to receiving (either via email or text message) personalized product and service offers that show that the company in question has done its “homework” – i.e., has carefully considered the customer’s unique preferences and past purchases/interactions to make personalized product or service suggestions that address the customer’s stated (and unstated) needs. (Think Amazon or Zappos.)

Today’s contact center captures a tremendous amount of valuable customer data and feedback every day – failure to use such information in proactive ways that enhance sales and the customer experience simultaneously is practically a criminal act.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, proactive outbound is the new black. Make sure your organization doesn’t fall out of fashion.

 

About the author

Author of Full Contact: Contact Center Practices and Strategies that Make an Impact. He has written hundreds of feature articles, case studies, blog posts and research reports on contact center best practices trends and challenges. He is founder and principal of Off Center, which provides a variety of resources to educate, inspire and entertain contact center professionals. Levin is the former editor of ICMI’s pioneering publication Service Level Newsletter, as well as its highly regarded follow-up journal Call Center Management Review.

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