Questions to ask a Telemarketing Agency
Over the past few years, the growth in telemarketing agencies has been fairly explosive and shows no sign of abating as they are contracted to perform increasingly varied functions. Well conceived and executed telemarketing can be used to acquire new customers, support an existing marketing campaign or collect information to review how products and services are perceived. Telemarketing can also serve as a simple courtesy call to welcome new customers or notify existing customers of any promotions or loyalty schemes. In the increasingly anonymous, digital age in which we live, the person at the end of the line might be the only human point of contact a customer has with your business, so it is very important that they leave a good impression.
The flip side of this, of course, is that we have all experienced how intrusive and meddlesome telemarketing can be, with insurance and double glazing salespeople ringing us up just as we're about to sit down for dinner, jump in the bath or go to work. So while telemarketing might be a valuable service for you, it can leave a somewhat less agreeable impression on your customers. They can either find a polite, knowledgeable and enthusiastic person at the end of the line who talks to them as an individual, or come across an aggressive salesperson who has clearly got a long list of telephone numbers to get through. But how can you ensure you have the right telemarketing agency on your side?
Given the level of human resources and technological expertise required, you would be advised to outsource the project in its entirety. Considering that telemarketing mistakes can be costly in damaging customer relations, it is well worth spending time to thoroughly examine the options available. Have a good look around on the web and through any relevant trade publications and even ask your competitors about any telemarketing agencies they have used in the past. If they take the time to recommend a particular agency, that says a lot about the agency's standards. Once you have fielded three or four telemarketing agencies you could envisage working with, the next step is to request
Ideally, the proposal request should include the following questions:
1. Do you understand the primary objectives of the work required of you?
2. Could you give me an indication of the sorts of results I should expect following the campaign? How many positive results should I expect per volume of calls?
3. In your experience, what would be the optimum time to hold the telemarketing campaign? Is there a specific time of day, or even month in the year that would be more favourable? Have you done any research on this issue?
4. Telemarketing involves a lot of cold calling. How do you compensate for this and leave the customer with a warm feeling afterwards?
The answers given to these questions should identify how pro-active the agency is and the extent to which it is able to customise its service for you. Which brings us round to another set of questions to consider, focusing in on the agency itself. Bear in mind that many telemarketing agencies will be offshore, so a lot of your dealings with them will be done remotely. As such, you'll want the answers to these questions:
1. Tell me a little about the company in general, in light of the fact that your industry is growing quickly and shows no signs of slowing down. What is your length of tenure? Your manager/employee ratio? Your employee and client turnover?
How many clients do you have? Will I be counted as a large or small client, and will my size have any impact on any potential telemarketing campaign carried out on my behalf?
3. Do you have the appropriate technology in place to handle my campaign? How regularly is this updated, with new technologies being incorporated as they become available? Do you have IT experts on hand should anything go wrong?
How familiar are you with my industry? Do you have employees who specialise in my field and understand the sort of campaign that would be appropriate for it?
5. Do you have the adequate training material and facilities required to educate employees about my industry so that they can answer customer enquiries? How will the training be assessed, and will it be ongoing after the campaign is launched?
Now that you have a better picture of the kind of agency you are dealing with, it is important to establish the practical details of any collaboration, especially since the telemarketing agency could well be located in a different time zone to you.
1. How is your pricing and billing structured? Do you have a selection of models for ongoing pricing? Do you charge an hourly rate or is your pricing performance based?
Will I have a single point of contact for the duration of the telemarketing campaign? Will this be with an account or client services manager who has a specialised knowledge of my industry?
3. Will my point of contact work closely with operational and technical groups to ensure all specifications are accurately documented and all requirements clearly communicated? Will they be in daily contact with me? How quickly will the questions or requests I make be responded to and implemented?
What about the security of the facility? If I pay a visit to the site will any of my companys confidential documentation be easily visible? Will it be possible for any outside parties to monitor the calls without permission?
The questions outlined in this article concentrate on three major fields: the pedigree and experience of any prospective telemarketing agency, its outlook and management skills and its level of communication with you over the course of a campaign. The answers you receive should enable you to choose the telemarketing agency that best suits your needs.