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Hi- Tech Telemarketing.

THE LATEST BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS TELESERVICE STRATEGIES

TELEMARKETING IS UNDERGOING a fundamental transformation in philosophy and execution. New teleservice tactics supplement even newer technical innovations. Strategies that have evolved from the experience of teleservice agency professionals provide new opportunities for current users and make teleservices practical for many additional fields.

BLENDING INBOUND AND OUTBOUND

Businesses may supplement direct mail efforts with an inbound response team and an outbound telemarketing campaign. The key to this diversified approach is the application of an outbound mentality in inbound call centers.

Inbound teleservice sales representatives (TSRs) converse with the caller and are able to answer detailed questions on both the service discussed and related programs. They also listen to complaints, attempt upselling and complete the transaction.

By applying an outbound approach in inbound environments, good TSRs achieve longer talk time per customer and greater profits.

To achieve optimal results, companies can combine specific inbound and outbound efforts. For instance, inbound callers who are undecided or possible prospects for upselling or cross-selling opportunities can be re-contacted in an outbound campaign. A skilled TSR who cultivates relationships with callers will increase conversion rates and client profits.

WEB TECHNOLOGY

The latest teleservices technology now encompasses the Internet through the use of Web-enabled applications, HTML scripting, Voice over IP (Internet Protocol Technology) and Web-enabled IVRU applications.

Web-enabled applications consolidate orders from the marketer's Web site and the TSR for increased efficiency and more powerful analysis. Through Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), the TSR obtains a complete history of a customer's transactions via a screen pop.

Web-enabled applications also allow a customer visiting a marketer's Web site to contact a live operator in a chat room. Cheaper than long distance phone rates, the process also promotes customer participation in sensitive transactions such as credit card purchases or banking transactions.

Using push/pull technology, TSRs in a chat room interact with the customer's computer by pushing pages onto the customer's screen. The resulting simultaneous browsing facilitates upselling and cross-selling by the TSR.

HTML files also help marketers update and change the selling script without employing expensive software experts to rewrite entire programs. Many reps now receive assistance in their online scripting by accessing hyperlinks on HTML files. The hyperlinks help TSRs respond to customer requests by clicking buttons to visit linked information or instruction locations.

Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) Technology enables customers with a multimedia computer to talk over the Internet with a TSR in a call center. This alternate method of communication is used increasingly due to tremendous advances in voice quality over the past year; it helps eliminate standard telecommunication expenses.

Web-enabled IVRU applications offer a similar presentation through the conventional phone line as well as the Web while providing the added benefits of centralized data storage and reporting.

HOT VOICE AND DATA TRANSFER

Older two-step teleservices functions may now be reduced to one step by using hot voice and data transfer.

Typically, lead-generation campaigns had required the TSR to pre-qualify a prospect before forwarding the necessary data to a more qualified sales specialist--for example, a licensed agent or broker--who then re-contacted the customer days or even weeks after the initial call. In the past, it had been found that qualified leads begin to lose their value after only three hours.

Now, hot voice and data transfer capability forwards the prospect immediately to the qualified official through an initial three-way conference call, and simultaneously transfers the data obtained by the rep.

The combined voice and data transfer saves time and increases conversion rates.

Hot voice and data transfer may be used for any lead generation program where the second customer contact requires a specialist who has more experience than the initial TSR, such as in mortgage, insurance, high-tech and public utility marketing campaigns.

PERFORMANCE-BASED PRICING

A proven business-to-business pricing structure makes teleservices accessible to even the most cost-conscious company. Known as performance-based pricing,

this system minimizes the monetary risks of teleservices.

Rather than charging by the hour, some teleservice companies use a performance-based method to charge marketers only for the number of leads/orders generated. This pricing strategy guarantees a consistent cost-per-order throughout a campaign and allows firms to make more accurate business projections.

Since teleservice agencies that use performance-based pricing are paid by results, they provide the highest quality agents, use the latest technical equipment and consult closely with their marketers.

STAYING UP-TO-DATE

According to industry estimates, telephone-marketing expenditures will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 7.9 percent, to $84.4 billion by the year 2001. Moreover, outbound teleservice calls are reported to be generating an estimated $525 billion in U.S. sales in 1999 and should break the $1 trillion mark within the next decade if current growth rates continue.

Teleservice functions and strategies are evolving as rapidly as the technology they use. A successful executive must stay up to date by reviewing teleservice trade journals, contacting organizational watchdog agencies and comparing notes with similar companies using teleservices.

RICHARD SIMMS, the development manager for Dial America's rapidly growing Software and Video Division, specializes in business-to-business outbound telemarketing campaigns.
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Author:SIMMS, RICHARD
Publication:Target Marketing
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Words:843
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