On the surface, the difference between inbound and outbound call centres is straightforward, but their work requires slightly differing skill sets. Simply put, inbound call centres receive customer calls and are customer-service oriented. Outbound call centres, on the other hand, call clients and prospective clients, usually (but not always) with the aim of making sales.
Call Centres: Inbound vs Outbound Similarities
Despite differences in focus, there are overlaps between the skills that inbound and outbound call centres put to work. For example, when you consider what an inbound call centre is, you’ll realise that it receives sales enquiries as well as requests for support. So, although their agents’ main aim is to provide service on demand, they must also have selling skills.
Outbound call centre services are most often focused on selling. But since outbound call centre representatives must do their utmost to ensure customer satisfaction when they make a sale, they also need to support client’s needs by being able to recommend the products that will best suit them. And, of course, they must be able to answer questions about what’s being offered, making it necessary for them to convey customer service information.
Finally, both inbound and outbound call centre agents represent your company and your brand. So, the training you provide surpasses product knowledge and sales techniques – and your choice of personnel will impact the way in which customers perceive your business. For example, the same words delivered in different tones of voice will convey different impressions – and customers’ impressions form the basis of brand perceptions.
Outbound Call Centre Services: Challenges They Face
Contacting people when they’re not expecting to hear from your business presents challenges that inbound call centres don’t face. Sales calls can be particularly sensitive. Even with a well-thought-through system for qualifying leads that allows for a degree of certainty that the possible client is interested in your products, there are barriers to overcome.
People are busy, and may not be in the mood to talk. Pushiness is out and sensitivity wins the day. Your killer sales script might work most of the time, but no two customers are 100 percent alike, and outbound call centre operatives must know when and how to improvise.
Generating interest in your products and closing deals are only the top two reasons why you might be making outbound calls, however. Other outbound call centre tasks may include things like market research, scheduling meetings, or checking in on clients after they’ve made a purchase. All the same, the fact that you’re approaching people who may not have been expecting your call, and who may find the timing inconvenient, requires tact and the implementation of masterful communication techniques.
Inbound Call Centre Services: Their Own Share of Challenges
Outbound calling requires skill, but dealing with inbound calls, and doing it well, is skilled work too. While some customers just want advice, others might be frustrated and even angry. After all, no matter how good your business and its products are, you can’t please all people all the time. Empathy, excellent listening skills, and communication styles that win customers over save the day, turning brand detractors into advocates.
But it’s not just the disaffected that represent challenges for call centre operatives. The way they deal with routine enquiries must leave clients feeling valued. Routine can be boring, but your inbound call centre representatives must sound interested, positive, and enthusiastic, and they must have tons of patience too.
What are Hybrid Call Centres?
Hybrid call centres deal with both inbound and outbound calls. And with so many overlaps between the skills needed for either type of call, they can work very well. If you’re employing people who see communication as expert work and approach it with both intellectual and emotional intelligence, enriching their workdays helps to keep them engaged.
However, you’re sure to find that some of your people are all-rounders, while others excel at either outbound or inbound call centre work. You can optimise outcomes by knowing your people, offering training, and allocating work based on the areas in which they deliver the best results. For example, some of your call centre representatives will be adept at making sales, while others are masters at walking people through the steps they must take in order to realise your products’ potential.
A hybrid call centre allocates work based on the areas in which individuals are able to deliver their best; trains operatives to implement new techniques and broaden their range; and seeks to deploy resources with your business’s goals in mind.
Should you Outsource Call Centre Work?
Outsourcing non-core functions to experts helps you to retain your focus on what you do best and the factors that give you a competitive edge. The key factor that determines the success of outsourcing is expertise.
Are there any qualifications that make it easier to choose excellence in call centre operations and management? We believe that there are. Let’s look at some inbound and outbound call centre skills:
- Technical knowledge: understanding your products and methods
- Knowing how to optimise customer perceptions of your business
- Empathy and interpersonal skills that foster engagement
- Clear and concise communication
- Mastery of tone of voice as a communication tool
- Being able to represent your business as a distinct “personality”
- The ability to engage audiences, connect with individuals, and be persuasive
- Being able to improvise appropriately
Of these, technical knowledge is likely to be the easiest to convey. Are the others “soft skills” that are hard to pin down or predict? Not really. Have you considered that actors are trained to do all these things? If they’re playing a role, they have the ability, imagination, and personal discipline to portray it regardless of their current state of mind. That’s what you need from top-flight call centre agents.
At RSVP, we employ talented British actors to represent your brand, and we know that you’ll be able to see the difference between us and run-of-the-mill call centres. Our first goal is to match your current results. Our next one is to exceed anything you could have done yourself because interactions with people, including your customers, are our focus.
It’s not just another marketing claim: we’ll provide you with the metrics you need to see how we boost your call centre performance from any baseline. Luxury brands like Mercedes Benz trust us to represent them. So do organisations like Manchester City FC, and audiobook market leaders Audible. Our list of satisfied clients is long and prestigious. We’re proud of our customers, and we’re doing them proud by supporting them through our outsourced call centre services.