Working the Phone as a CRM Tool (1,572 words)
by Jim Wheaton and Mark Harjes
Successful Prospect and Customer Relationship Management (P/CRM) requires the coordinated leveraging of multiple communications channels. With this in mind, consider the following seven guidelines for taking maximum advantage of inbound and outbound call centers as part of your overall CRM program.
1. Even when prospecting, tailor the screen script to the target audience.
Generally, prospect universes are comprised of distinct subsets. In many vertical industries, one group will have a high propensity to respond but, having converted to customer status, will generate modest long-term value. Conversely, a second group will be less likely to respond but, once customers, will prove to be very valuable. Fortunately, sophisticated data mining techniques are available to make such distinctions with reasonable accuracy, although they are outside the scope of this article.
The psychology of these two typical prospect subsets can be very different. The high-response/low-value group is often more price sensitive, less likely to display deep loyalty, and less heavily swayed by non-monetary issues such as quality and support.
For this deal-prone segment, the prospecting strategy generally should be brief and to-the-point. Such campaigns can be executed in a formulaic way, with the Telephone Service Representatives (TSRs) working almost entirely off standard screen scripts. Price advantages should be hammered hard, with the goal of closing the sale quickly and moving on to the next prospect. Time is money in a call center environment and, because of unremarkable long-term customer value, a prolonged conversational approach is simply not cost-effective.
This is the antithesis of the method that is often effective with the low-response/high-value prospect subset. Such individuals tend to be less swayed by modest price differentials and more focused on quality and support. Often, these people display significant loyalty to the incumbent company's products and services. A swift, highly promotional, price-focused prospecting message is not going to be effective.