I work at a major newspaper in North America. From a subscriber perspective, we use outbound telemarketing in a number of contexts, from start verification to complaint resolution to subscription renewals. Obviously each program has different goals and each requires a unique approach.
It’s one thing to test and implement effective scripting for these telemarketing programs. It is quite another to effectively report on the program’s success. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding how to report on your next campaign.
1) WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?
The first measure is obvious. What are you trying to accomplish and how close are you to getting there?
- With renewal calls, you will want to know the number of successful renewals over a given period. This is as easy as saying: “We managed to get 100 renewals in June.”
- For start verification, you will want to know how many subscribers received their newspaper on their first day of delivery. This is often reported as a percentage. For example, we aim for 95% successful starts.
- This first measurement is the big picture. It’s the measure that is often most reported to senior managers.
- Ask the question: How are we doing? And the answer will be one of these ‘big picture’ metrics. This number will be near the top of your report.
||Telemarketing: Are your programs impacting your business results?
2) HOW EFFICIENT ARE YOUR AGENTS?
The next level of reporting is for the manager responsible for the telemarketing program.
This reporting is intended to show how efficiently agents are being employed.
- The ‘big picture’ metric might be the number of renewals, but how efficient your agents are is another question altogether
- The most common efficiency metric in the inbound call center environment is average handle time, or AHT. AHT is usually measured in minutes or seconds.
- In a renewal setting, you are likely to combine this with the big picture, and report on a metric such as renewals-per-hour (comparable to sales-per-hour, or SPH, the most common efficiency metric in a sales setting).
- There are shortcomings to efficiency measures (for example, they often fail to differentiate between call types), but it is a useful tool to understand how long agents are taking to solve customer service issue. Generally speaking, the higher the AHT (or the lower the SPH), the less efficient your agents.
- Be warned: a low AHT is not always a good sign, as it can come at the cost of customer satisfaction. Agents who rush to get off the phone are not likely providing excellent customer service. How can you avoid this pitfall? You might measure first-call-resolution rate (FCR). If your decreasing AHT is coinciding with a reduced FCR, your efficiency is coming at a cost. These customers will be calling you back, or even worse, cancelling their service.
3) HOW EFFICIENT IS YOUR SPENDING?
This measurement is tied to efficiency, and it is intended to report cost.
- For example, in the subscription renewal environment, how much does it cost to renew each subscription? This will simply be the total cost of the program divided by the number of renewals achieved.
- With other types of calls without a sales component (start verification for example), you may want to understand the average cost-per-contact. Comparing period-to-period, call centers can shift schedules to minimize this cost.
- Measuring cost-per-contact also allows managers to compare costs across regions. For example, your call center in Asia may be less efficient than your call center in North America. This might be due to scheduling restrictions at the call center. However, since Asian call centers have lower hourly rates, the cost-per-contact might still be cheaper. If there is no effect on quality and you have a limited budget, you will choose the less expensive option in Asia, even if AHT is higher.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
As a manager, it’s nice to have all these metrics on a single report, typically produced weekly or monthly.
If possible, it’s useful to have your customer relationship management
vendor prepare the reports and comment on the results. A monthly spot check will be necessary to verify the results.
When your vendor understands what is important to you–the big picture and the program efficiencies and costs–you are more likely to meet your goals. It is easier to set expectations when everyone is reading from the same page.
Planning your reporting needs ahead of time is important. Too often we look back on a campaign and try to piece together metrics we did not anticipate at the time. This exercise is time consuming and prone to error.
Of course, there will be times you say “I wish I thought of this earlier!” But it is obviously best to minimize those occasions. When in doubt, collect more data than you need, and save it so that you can return to it at a later time.
Be sure to measure the right things, and do your best to get it right from the start.