outbound call

An outbound call is one initiated by a call center agent to a customer on behalf of a call center or client. Outbound calls are typically made to prospective customers and focus on sales, lead generation, telemarketing and fundraising.

Calls can also be made to existing customers for renewal services, contact list updates, debt collection, market research or pre-emptive customer service.

Inbound vs. outbound calls

Alternately, an inbound call is one that a customer initiates to the call center. Some contact centers handle either outbound or inbound calls exclusively. Others, referred to as blended call centers, deal with a combination of the two.

Inbound and outbound calls require different types of technology and different agent strategies.

Strategies for successful outbound calls

Sales and marketing campaigns using outbound calls can be time- and resource-intensive. To justify the investment, team leaders can employ one or more of the following strategies:

Predictive dialing -- Predictive dialing systems automatically make outgoing calls, dialing phone numbers and screening out busy signals, voicemail, non-answers and disconnected numbers so agents are only on the phone when a person answers. By making the most efficient use of an agent's time, call centers that use this technology can complete a high volume of outbound calls in a short period of time.

Scripting to overcome annoyance -- Consumers generally consider outbound calls intrusive. Prospective customers often begin the conversation wary or annoyed. Leaving flexibility in agent scripts to personalize calls is one way to counter this initial negativity.

Blended agents -- Making outbound calls can be draining for call center agents. One way managers can keep morale high is by assigning call center agents to make outbound calls and also answer inbound calls depending on call volume. Such blended agents may have more success.

Do not call lists -- Many countries have enacted legislation limiting the number of cold calls businesses and contact centers can make. For example, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission maintains a Do Not Call Registry, a list of phone numbers that telemarketers are prohibited from calling in most circumstances. This list was created in 2003 and fundamentally changed the way marketers in call centers do business. Many other countries maintain similar lists.

This was last updated in December 2018

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