When your prospect or customer calls your business to place an order, respond to an ad, request service, or inquire about literature or information, it is considered an inbound call. You have your next new customer or order on your phone; what more could you ask for? This is the time to up-sell and offer add-ons, special terms, gifts for advance payment, and so on. Because the customer called you, chances are very slim that he will hang up during your presentation. This can be a softer sell than an outbound call only because the customer must’ve had some interest to call in the first place. These can be your objectives for an inbound call:
- Make a sale.
- Complete a sale.
- Make a free offer.
- Explain an advertisement.
- Create value for your company.
- Gather customer information.
- Add to your mailing list.
- Up-sell products or offer payment discounts.
- Handle complaints and returns.
- Provide a help line for customers.
- Enforce goodwill with customers.
- Up-sell additional services.
Do you have a separate direct line for these calls, or do they go through an operator, a voicemail system, or a receptionist? If the calls are answered or intercepted prior to getting to you, does the person answering the call know how to handle it properly? Are all your inbound-call personnel trained to deal with all of the aforementioned objectives, or do they need to transfer the call for some of them? Your caller will be more relaxed and receptive if the person who answers can help with any and all such situations.
Have you ever called a company for help or to order something and been transferred to someone else who supposedly could help you—only to get the person’s voicemail because he or she was busy? This frustrates callers, who were talking to someone but have now gotten someone’s voicemail instead. It can be the kiss of death to put an inbound caller on hold or transfer him to someone’s voicemail. Some callers won’t leave a message—they’ll change their mind and just spend their money elsewhere. If you must put someone on hold, and they have to wait more than 15 seconds, at least have hold music or something to pass the time. Dead air seems twice as long, and some people might hang up and not call back. You spent money somewhere to get them to call, so take advantage of the fact that they did, and don’t lose the customer.
If you’re doing an infomercial and you expect a lot of calls, you may need to hire a temporary inbound call service that can take the calls and orders. It doesn’t matter where the company is located, because all customers really care about is the toll-free number. You can also use telesales services when you’re doing a huge direct mailing at a specific time of the year, and you don’t have enough staff to process the calls. When the big rush is over, the service can refer the calls back to your staff.
The only disadvantage to not taking all the calls yourself is that the telesales service has no stake in your business and nothing to gain except their hourly pay. Whether the rep treats your customers well will probably depend on his or her mood that day.
When hiring this type of service, see how they deal with you when you make your first inquiry. If they are courteous and easy to talk to, they may also be affable to your callers. Ask for and check a few references with other companies they have worked with. If you’re spending the big bucks it takes to do this promotion, you don’t want to lose even one order; you want and need them all.
Before you finalize your agreement, ask to speak to the supervisor who will handle your project and stress that you want their people to be courteous and pleasant to all the people who call. You want their reps to be pleasant to non-buyers as well, because a small percentage may call back. Let the call center management know that if this promotion works, there will be others coming.