One of my activities is running a podcast about call/contact centres and customer service. On the most recent episode, I look at some new data from callcentres.net that suggests contact centres are getting better at generating revenue on the phone.
The thing to understand about this trend is that it does NOT refer to telemarketing. Instead, it refers to service that lets customers get what they want. Sometimes that’s an upsell. Most often, it’s a contact centre agent closing a sale when someone calls in to make an inquiry about something they are thinking of buying.
Contact centre and customer service folks attribute this increase to what they call ‘quality conversations’ in which their agents tune in to a customer’s needs, win their trust and make a sale. It takes a while for a contact centre agent to gain that skill. It takes investment from their employer. But eventually, they get good at it and the results are powerful for all concerned. Think of how confident you feel when a call centre gives you the right experience to understand how this works!
I mention this because on the three or four occasions a year I am asked to speak to PR people about how to best target me, I nearly always say that while email is very fast, it is not a medium in which it is possible to determine my state of mind, be persuasive (it is slow and who reads massive emails?) or use any form of non-verbal communication. I then suggest that, seeing as PR is often about persuading me to spend some time with a PR company’s clientele, perhaps a medium that affords the greatest variety of opportunity to do so is the most appropriate medium for PR to consider under many circumstances.
During my time in PR, I was never offered training about being more effective on the phone. I suspect, given that at least 90% of communication I receive from PRs now is by email, that my experience was not atypical. I therefore suspect PR has something to be learned from the contact centre world.
Bring on the quality conversations!