As a contact center professional, you probably lose sleep over issues like call duration, agent turnover and similar operational metrics. But have you ever thought about the fact that your company might be spending millions in marketing budget to drive support calls?
How could this be, you ask?
People don’t only call when they need support — phone conversations are a critical part of the buying process for considered purchase industries like financial services, insurance and home services, where the product or service is complex and expensive. My company, Invoca, recently surveyed banking customers and found that, 93 percent of consumers, who took out a loan of $100,000 or more made at least one call while evaluating options.
Marketers working in industries like financial services are increasingly driving people to call versus click, and contact centers are on the receiving end of this extra demand.
While these businesses face a significant opportunity to drive revenue, in addition to support, via their contact centers, most companies don’t yet have the tools in place to effectively do so. This failure is causing a variety of pain points for the contact center and marketing teams, which negatively impacts both revenue and the customer experience.
Here are a few ways we’re seeing this happen:
Marketing is wasting budget driving customer support calls
When someone quickly wants help, they typically do a Google search and click on the first result — usually a paid search ad— to grab the phone number. Think about this scenario and the millions in paid search budget being spent to drive customer support calls.
A leading U.S. insurer, for example, recently implemented Invoca and found that more than 50 inbound calls driven by paid search were support inquiries, not sales opportunities. Yes, the marketing team was spending money with Google to fill up support queues in the contact center!
If you’re worried about the expense of handling those calls, think about this. For businesses in considered purchase industries, where bidding on high-value keywords like “life insurance” can drive prices to $50 or more per click, the marketing team is losing out financially just as much as your contact center operation.
Contact centers can’t provide real-time call data to marketers
The contact center and marketing teams are often siloed in more ways than one. They not only sit in different offices — or even countries — they also don’t have the systems necessary to deliver a consistent customer experience and a timely flow of data.
The world of digital advertising moves incredibly fast and operates more like the automated world of present-day stock exchanges than the stereotype of a 1950’s “Mad Men” advertising agency. Best-in-class marketing teams are running optimization tests and automatically adjusting Google and Facebook bidding strategies in a matter of seconds.
Unfortunately, many contact centers aren’t equipped to provide real-time data on which calls convert into sales and revenue — which is the feedback loop marketers require to spend money efficiently. Another well-known financial institution was reporting call disposition data on a monthly basis, but the marketing team was looking to run A/B tests on Google search terms within 24-hour windows. Without real-time data sharing, the marketing team was left to make blind decisions about how to use digital advertising to drive phone-based revenue.
Contact centers aren’t proactively warned of how to manage inbound demand
Marketers run campaigns to motivate consumers into action. For considered purchase industries, this means filling out a form or placing a call. Given calls convert at 10-15 times the rate of web leads, you should anticipate smart marketers to be focusing their efforts on calls. How can the contact center prepare for this extra surge in demand if it has no insight into the campaigns marketing is planning? Marketing ends up paying to drive traffic that waits in a queue. This isn’t just bad for the business, it’s bad for the customer.
Contact center agents lack the “digital context” of what happened pre-call
Contact center agents typically spend the first 60 seconds of every call trying to understand two things about the caller: “who are you?” and “what is your problem?” Getting this information extends call duration and impacts agent efficiency; what’s more, it translates to a poor experience for customers who have already signaled, through digital behavior (e.g., knowledge base searches and community interaction), what issue they’re trying to resolve. By better connecting digital and voice interaction channels, businesses can deliver a better customer experience and make smarter use of their contact center teams.
The way forward
In considered purchase industries, contact center executives have a tremendous opportunity to partner with marketing and drive incremental revenue. Here are three key steps you can take now to align contact center teams with marketing to drive your business forward.
- 1. Leverage AI to accelerate the contact center to marketing feedback loop
Advances in artificial intelligence and natural language understanding (NLU) mean that you can speed up and digitize the feedback loop between the contact center and the marketing teams. You no longer need to listen to phone calls manually, or spend long hours integrating or upgrading contact center systems to feed data back to marketing. Instead, you can tap into the power of real-time voice analytics, automatically understand caller behavior and intent, and integrate those insights to digital advertising platforms. This shared data set establishes a foundation for improved cooperation between marketing and contact center teams.
2. Use contact center data to suppress digital advertising to existing customers
With new audience targeting capabilities from Google and Facebook, brands can proactively suppress individual consumers from specific digital advertising campaigns. For example, you can leverage phone number and email address data from contact center or CRM applications to avoid running paid search advertisements for products that customers already own. This saves the marketing team on digital marketing investments, and directs these customers to digital self-service options before they incur expensive call center costs.
3. Align marketing initiatives and contact center staffing levels
Online and offline marketing can drive significant call volumes, so aligning contact center staffing levels with the timing of high impact campaigns maximizes the efficiency of both marketing and contact center investments. At Invoca, we’ve seen our clients’ contact center teams tweak break schedules to ensure high availability when direct response TV ads run, and marketers dial digital spend up and down based on current hold times in the contact center. This ensures that marketing spend isn’t wasted on driving inbound calls that pile up into overloaded queues, and aligns contact center capacity with marketing investment levels.
With phone conversations collectively generating more than $1 trillion in the U.S. alone, there’s a massive and untapped opportunity for contact center professionals to drive revenue from the contact center. This will come from closer alignment, both strategically and technologically, between the marketing and the contact center. Use the four tips above as conversation-starters with your marketing team. You might be surprised at how willing they’ll be to start breaking down the silos, and working together to drive more revenue from calls.