How Call Centers Thrive Despite ‘Do Not Call’

Call center operator InfoCision Management Corp. is adding teleservices representatives. Over the coming months several hundred people will join the company’s call centers in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The company also is working on plans for a new call center that will, if built, employ 100 to 200 additional staff by June. The majority of new hires will take call center rep roles, but InfoCision will pull in new managers, too.

This growth seems to fly in the face of expectations following the implementation of the National Do Not Call Registry (DNC) by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

“I’m not hearing about a lot of significant growth in outbound, although InfoCision is relatively unique in that they’ve taken their passion for quality much higher,” said Jon Kaplan, president of TeleDevelopment Services, a telemarketing consultancy based in Richfield, Ohio. “It doesn’t surprise me that they’re able to attract and retain clients.”

Quality First

“Our clients know that we invest in our employees, technology and a legal compliance team, and they recognize that they need quality call centers to handle their business,” Steve Brubaker, InfoCision’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, explained to CRM Buyer. “There is no question that the magnitude and extent of new telemarketing regulations hurt all businesses in our industry. However, large corporations are recognizing that they must have call center services that are quality-focused.”

InfoCision’s traditional base of political and charitable non-profit groups has grown to embrace commercial clients, some of which rely on the firm to handle their inbound calls as well. InfoCision recently invested $3 million to develop proprietary technology that helps reps shift easily between inbound and outbound calls. This meets the needs of InfoCision in offering reps for both functions but also the needs of clients that have had to adjust their marketing strategies in response to the DNC list.

“InfoCision has been able to help its clients so they could remain competitive without a noticeable halt to their direct marketing efforts,” Brubaker said.

Art Schoeller, senior analyst at the Yankee Group, said InfoCision is not alone in its post-DNC growth. The survivors that have found ways to thrive typically have done so by expanding beyond a focus on outboundcalls.

“The successful ones move to a mix of outbound and inbound customer care,” Schoeller said. “In fact, that trend began awhile ago and was critical for survival. [They also] target more proactive contact applications, those with existing customers, contract renewals, etc. — sort of your kinder and gentler outbound,”

Good Customers

It’s not only the teleservices vendors that have improved: Customers have too. Those who didn’t add their names to the DNC list — and therefore are still accessible to outbound calls — seem to be more receptive to marketing pitches.

“Although the list of callable names has gotten smaller, the quality of the list is better. The yield is higher. You’re talking to people who want to take calls,” said Kaplan. “So while the lists have decreased in size, productivity has increased.”

This kind of consumer trust, however, comes with a heavy responsibility. Marketers must target their offers to the most appropriate potential buyers and clearly articulate the value proposition. This infusion of better marketing techniques should ensure that people who remain receptive to outbound calls are not overwhelmed by more calls than they received before DNC.

“We have to be careful as an industry that we protect the gold that’s still out there,” cautioned Kaplan. “What brought this [the DNC list] about in the first place is a few who put a black eye on the industry, and that’s going to continue.”

If the unscrupulous marketers keep their shady practices to a minimum, some of the 63 million consumers who signed onto the DNC list may begin opting into outbound calling activity from product and service providers they prefer, renewing some of the life that was lost in outbound with the establishment of DNC, said Kaplan.

But Schoeller doesn’t think this will happen. Consumers, he said, “simply are fed up with intrusive teleservices calls” and won’t agree to give marketers an inch more telephone wire for fear they’ll take a mile.

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