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How do outbound and inbound call centers build profitable customers?

In this tip, expert Martha Rogers explains how inbound call center agents and outbound call center agents play different roles in building customer profitability.

How do inbound call centers and outbound call centers differ in the way their agents build customer profitability?
Well, this is a great question, because asking how inbound call centers differ from outbound call centers in building customer profitability is sort of like asking how the offense and the defense differ in building points for their team. They are both very important, but they have different goals, and in fact, those goals are at different ends of the field in many cases.

When we think about what the offense (outbound call center) is doing, they have a very organized plan and need to follow that plan exactly, and that's supposed to get them the best results. The inbound call center is the opposite; they're like the defensive line on a team. Their goal is to defray problems that come in, solve problems, and put a road block in the way of anything that is making a customer unhappy. That's a completely different kind of strategy and approach. One requires a certain kind of pragmatic thinking and planning. The other requires a lot of innovative creativity to make sure that customers are happy when they leave the call. Now, in both cases what we see are companies and customer service reps who are very interested in making sure that customers are served best in both directions. When we talk about outbound callers, in many cases these are people who are making calls that are not necessarily completely welcomed, whereas the opposite is true of inbound call center reps, where customers are happy to finally get a human on the phone. So, that is the huge difference and one that I'm sure drives a lot of different behavior on the part of the call center reps themselves.

This was last published in December 2008

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