Initiating a Conversation with Your Customer – Do’s and Don’ts

Outbound

Knowing when and when not to reach out to your customers can be a sticky situation.

Before reaching out to customers, businesses need to develop their outbound strategy to include how and when they will reach out to their customers. Since it is less costly to retain a customer than gain a new one, it’s important to be measured and strategic on exactly what event will trigger the need to proactively reach out to customers and when to let them be.

When outbound is good
 
In order to be remembered, brands strive to personalize each individual customer experience (CX) and do so by communicating as proactively as possible. For example, outbound can be very helpful in the following circumstances:

  • Healthcare – Doctor appointment reminders
  • Banking / finance – Account activations or potentially fraudulent activity
  • Pharmaceutical – Refills/reorders
  • Education – Closing announcements

Also, outbound is very important in the retail industry when it comes to situations where companies must announce a recall of a product. Delivering the recall message out to the affected customers, like in the situation Toyota recently faced with 7.4 million recalled vehicles, is extremely important when the customers’ safety is on the line. As the company is being closely watched since its last recall a few years ago, Toyota needs to be extra careful and make sure they’ve reached every customer affected by the recall to protect them from any incidents. Another company using outbound to take precautionary measures is Kellogg, who recently recalled 2.8 million packages of Frosted Mini-Wheats, which may have been contaminated by pieces of metal mesh.

Reaching the customer in a time of crisis is critical in providing the ultimate customer experience. Contacting the customer immediately when something has gone wrong not only keeps the customer updated on the latest in the situation, but also helps restore customer trust. This ultimately enhances the customer experience as the customer feels like the company has its best interest at heart. After all, consumers are human too and they award extra points to brands for a good recovery.

When outbound is bad

All outbound initiatives should have an “opt in or out” feature to allow the customer to decide whether or not they want to be proactively contacted. Companies that don’t provide an opt out feature, such as not providing an unsubscribe button or not taking the time to ask a customer if they want to receive messages or calls, will aggravate and lose customers quickly. This practice follows a good “code of outbound conduct,” or “bill of rights” if you will. If best practices aren’t enough of a sell, it is also against the CAN SPAM law.

Unfortunately, outbound can get a bad reputation for being the old school telemarketing calls we are all used to getting over the dinner table. However, today’s outbound is not a robocall. It delivers personalized, important information to make doing business with a company more rewarding and valuable.

It’s important to put the CX first and plan outbound strategies in advance to ensure your business is reaching out to its customers in the best possible way, at the most necessary times. The ability to engage with customers should not be abused and should be treaded lightly to ensure the positive and personalized customer experience.

Are there any other times you think it’s appropriate or not to use outbound? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author: As the Director Product Marketing, Steve Gass has responsibility for Angel's complete product suite which includes IVR, proactive customer communications, virtual call center and mobile products. He has more than 25 years of experience within the customer engagement industry; most recently in a senior leadership role responsible for product management and development in the telecommunications industry. Additionally, Steve is the author/co-author of five pending patents related to outbound communications and has successfully collaborated with enterprises to affect revenue increases, improved customer satisfaction scores while reducing costs.

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