By Kimberly McDowall, MMGT
Marketing an intangible service can be a challenge. For teleservices companies that challenge is often made more difficult when they are the best at what they do. When your call center is professional and reliable, it is as easy for clients to overlook as clean water and electrical service.
The key to successfully marketing your call center services in today’s competitive environment is to clearly demonstrate the value that you add to your clients’ businesses. In order to market your call center successfully, your current and prospective clients must understand the unique value that you add to their businesses.
As you already know, your professional call center offers significant value to your clients and adds value to their customers. Your call center helps small businesses to provide first-class, round the clock professionals who are ready and waiting to assist their callers. In order to make the case for your business, remember to always approach your marketing and sales tasks from the perspective of the client. Make a list of all the benefits that your clients enjoy, as a result of engaging your services. Some of the benefits may include:
- Improving a client’s professional image and credibility
- Improving a client’s ability focus on their key success factors
- Improving the public’s perception of your clients’ level and quality of service
- Improving your clients’ public communications
- Constraining the costs of doing business through outsourcing. Professional telemessaging services are generally much more affordable than hiring an in-house receptionist or investing in expensive PBX systems for small businesses. In addition, the costs of outsourcing services may be expensed as opposed to investments in capital equipment like PBX systems, which may be depreciated over time.
- Ensuring that your clients will be able to continue business in the event of a disaster, such as a fire in their place of business.
- Assurances that their business is represented by an expert in the field of business communications.
Once you know what unique benefits your service offers clients, you should begin to assemble a marketing plan. According to one report, only 14 percent of businesses have a business plan, and fewer still have any sort of marketing plan. Taking the time to prepare a marketing plan will help you conserve your scarce resources, including time and money.
Your marketing plan should not be overly complicated. Start with your marketing budget. Look at your marketing expenses over the past three years, and evaluate the success of your marketing efforts over that period of time.
Then, identify your “target market.” Your target market is the core group of individuals and businesses that are most likely to benefit from your services. Think about what those people do, what media they attend to, and where they are most likely to see your message. Use that information to assemble a marketing plan that makes the most of your marketing budget. Remember to leave some room for discretionary funds, as you will likely be called on to donate to various local events throughout the year.
Once you put together a simple, cost-effective plan, stick with it. Marketing plans help you conserve time and energy by identifying months in advance what, where, when, how, and why you will engage in a particular marketing activity. In preparing a marketing plan, you will be free to rely on your own judgments and experience to make marketing decisions.
Another important tool you may use to demonstrate the value that you add to your clients’ businesses is by offering a service guarantee. You may elect to offer recorded sessions of the services you provide to a given client (complying with applicable laws and regulations). Many clients overlook the distinct value that teleservice call centers provide, simply because they do not have tangible “products” to pass judgment on. Recorded sessions offer clients the opportunity to hear the quality answers provided by your call center. When they can verify value, client satisfaction tends to improve. Client satisfaction is also correlated with client attrition. The more satisfied a client is the more likely he or she is to continue to use your service.
Kimberly McDowall holds a post-graduate certificate in Executive Human Resource Management and Consulting as well as a Masters Degree in Management. She is a PhD candidate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2005]