At Your Service: Setting a strategy for outbound communications
05/03/2013

A survey by Forrester Research indicates that 29 percent of enterprises are currently investing in proactive outbound communications. Outbound communications is pretty broad and includes everything from phone calls to texts and emails.

What struck me about these results was the spirit of being proactive. Several equipment dealers and rental companies recently mentioned how they want their employees to conduct more outbound communications, so that begs the question, “What is your outbound communication strategy?”

When your phone is ringing or someone sends you an email, you are obligated and trained to react. You hopefully answer the phone promptly and professionally, and you return your emails in a timely manner. That is how your business operates. It is all very reactive.

However, outbound communications offers many additional opportunities. You can proactively:

  • Offer upselling or cross-sell opportunities. After a customer places an order, you can follow up to see if they need anything else, as well as make them aware of other services you provide.
  • Connect with former customers. Every organization has a list of dormant customers who have not done business with you in a while. Organize a campaign to reach out to those customers and update their status. Just a few additional orders will more than pay for the initiative.
  • Keep current customers informed. Let your current customers know of specials and specific events that are occurring. Most customers will appreciate knowing what is happening within your company.

The traditional method of outbound communication for most rental companies is using the phone. Your infrastructure is in place, as you have the phone and your counter/inside sales team, however it isn’t that easy.

Your approach needs to be organized and focused. A strategy of handing your inside sales reps a list of names with instructions to call these customers when they have a chance is doomed to fail. Most inside sales reps will find something else to do. Conducting an outbound call requires a completely different sales strategy. There is the fear of the unknown as you don’t know what the customer’s reaction will be to the phone call.

As you prepare your strategy, consider the following:

  • Be clear on the objectives of the program. How will you know if it is a success? Are your goals focused on cleaning up your customer list, generating revenue and building more value in your services?
  • Prepare your staff members. They need to be comfortable making these calls and prepared for a wide range of customer feedback. Some customers will be happy to hear from you and others may have other issues. When you train them properly, it will be a better experience for them and more productive for your company.
  • Be organized. Have your lists ready and make certain you set aside specific times and goals for the calls.
  • Have an incentive plan. Make outbound communication fun and rewarding. This should be a good experience for your employees, your customers and your company.

Barry Himmel is senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based consulting company offering sales and customer service training, marketing and mystery shopping services for the equipment rental industry. He can be reached at 614-766-5101 or barryhimmel@signatureworldwide.com. For more information, call 800-398-0518 or visit signatureworldwide.com.