The Direct Response Offer is Out, is Your Contact Center Ready?


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The marketing team has spent weeks on designing a cross-channel direct response campaign. The direct response ad will be launched over TV, Internet, and Direct Mail. Much thought (and investment) has gone into the design and production of the television spot, emails, mail inserts, and banner ads. The copy has been rewritten 4 times over. The campaign is finally ready to launch.


In addition to the marketing effort to get a direct response campaign off the ground, the real fun begins when prospective customers see your ad, pick up the phone and call you. After all, that is where the “real” money is made and sales forecasts are met. Here are a few tips to make sure your contact center is ready for the influx of sales inquiries. 

  1. Determine In-House vs. Outsourced Contact Center
  2. According to Frost and Sullivan, 20%-25% of enterprises outsource their contact center operations to a 3rd party provider. For Direct Response specific campaigns, this number is likely to rise due to the need for trained sales pros who are experienced in handling DR offers. Ask yourself if you have the capability internally to manage inbound sales calls, if not, there are many qualified outsourcers that you can hire (here’s one list).

    Interview potential providers. Ask them about their experiences (specifically around direct response), processes, and technology. Request a demo to see firsthand if your product and processes will work in their environment. Compare the options and determine whether you will be more successful in your campaign using your in-house contact center or using a contact center BPO.


  3. Get the troops (agents) ready.
  4. Whether you are using an in-house or outsourced contact center, you want agents to be knowledgeable about the products they are required to sell. Let the agents see, touch, or even use the products they are going to be selling. That may sound like a bad episode of NBC’s Outsourced, but from our experience, the top contact centers take advantage of these types of activities. Familiarize agents with the products/services and they will be able to better answer the questions and inquiries from prospective customers; ultimately selling more products.


    Training the agents on the process and the offer is essential to maximizing their ability to convert prospects into customers. Communicate the collective goals of the campaign as well as the individual goals for each agent. Perhaps, your organization can provide some incentives for the top performers. Lastly, create a leader board to give the agents a sense of competition. Seeing how they fare against their peers is an excellent tool for motivation.


  5. Is the Agent Desktop in sync with your Direct Response Offer and Process?
  6. What do the agents’ desktops look like? Is it a mish-mash of applications and log-ins? If you haven’t already, invest in a flexible unified agent desktop to support your direct response campaign. In the contact center software marketplace there are solutions, like RiverStar Direct Response, that provide stand alone Direct Response applications that allow outsourcers and enterprise contact centers to simply modify scripts, up sells, cross sells, payment gateway details, and CTI integrations all in one admin interface. In some cases, you may be able to take advantage of out-of-the-box workflows that provides the functionality to achieve a faster time to market for a more compelling competitive advantage.


  7. Measure the results and DON’T “Set It and Forget It
  8. What metrics do you look to gauge the performance of the campaign? How do you measure agent performance?


    Utilize reporting packages from your telephony or agent desktop provider. Standard reporting on call details and order amounts should give you the core insights you need to make continuous improvement decisions. Implement a quality monitoring tool to score agents, measure performance, monitor customer interaction flows, and capture agent time invested in each step of the interaction process. Some tools also allow for management to analyze bottlenecks and listen for queues that turn off the customer. By looking at the reporting data and quality monitoring tools, you can quickly identify and assess positive and negative impacts within each campaign. As important as basic quality monitoring, managing the test cases and agent communication scenarios can enable higher returns and conversion rates through on-the-fly campaign workflow modification.


    In one interview, Scott Badger, principal of KPI Direct, had this to say about continuous improvement on Direct Response campaigns, “I continue to be amazed at how many advertisers ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to managing their ‘back end’. I’ve consistently found that with a little digging, some thoughtful promotion set up, and a commitment to disciplined execution, advertisers can literally add an additional 1.5 to 3 percentage points of profit to their bottom lines”.


According to the Direct Marketing Association, Direct marketing campaigns in all channels drive more than $1.7 trillion worth of annual sales through the US economy, and as much as three times that amount of sales globally. In other words… A LOT of money is made off of these campaigns!


You’ve invested money, time, and are taking some risk in launching a direct response campaign. The pressure is high to meet sales goals and expectations. Don’t make simple mistakes in the contact center execution phase – stay focused on the customer, give your agents the tools they need to be successful, and leverage technology tools that allow you to improve and ultimately become more profitable.



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