Contact database quality

January 29, 2018

Contact database quality, as with everything else, deteriorates with time. The more you use it, the worse it becomes. How many times do you go through your contact database?

There are three ingredients needed for initiating and handling a productive outbound campaign. First, you need experienced agents on your end of the phone line. Then you need a reliable dialing tool or system to connect these agents to customers on the other end of the line. And of course, you need a reliable customer database. Take any of these ingredients out of the recipe and you are left with a guaranteed failure. Last week, we shared an article about the many dialing opportunities call centers have. Today, we would like to share our views on contact database quality, and how it gradually deteriorates over time.

Declining contact database quality

For outbound campaigns it is extremely important to reach as many contacts as possible. This is why agents are expected to attempt as many interactions as they can with customers. In order to achieve this, they normally use the same contact database several times. During the first attempt, agents will reach a certain amount of contacts in the database. Depending on the type of dialer used they mark each contact automatically or manually, based on the result of the call.

Based on the outcome of the call, we can define two groups: ongoing and completed. Ongoing calls are records marked as busy, needing callback, and so forth – records needing further attempts to contact. Completed calls, on the other hand, are reached contacts marked as “Successful” (a sale has been done) or “Unsuccessful” (wrong number, resulting in no sale, and so forth).  Based on these call dispositions, a second attempt takes place, with agents trying to call the previously unreached contacts once again. During the second and subsequent attempts, however, contact database quality inevitably deteriorates. Dialing takes more and more time, and reaching customers becomes harder and harder. From the graph below you can see how this looks like in reality.

Imagine you start a project with a completely fresh contact database. In the first attempt, your agents reach and close 26,67% of the records in the database. During the second attempt, they try to reach the remaining records from the previous round, but how big is the chance that reachability will be on a similar level? From our experience, it never is. In our data analysis, during the second attempt reachability fell to around 14.6% from the original database, which means 19.92% from the remaining contacts from the previous round. And in each and every subsequent attempt it gets lower and lower. In this particular project, agents needed to go through four attempts of dialing in order to close half of the contacts in the customer database.

Contact Database Quality - Statistics - VCC LiveThe statistics used in this example are taken from the analysis of real customer contact databases. The analyzed projects have started with a contact database containing 100% of previously unreached contacts.

As contact database quality decreases, the number of dials needed in order to reach a contact becomes higher. With every subsequent attempt, an agent (or the dialer system being used) needs to dial more numbers before they can handle a call. In the above example, during the first attempt every 3.7 dial was reached, while in the second attempt every fifth dial results in a reached customer. With every subsequent attempt, agents (or the dialer they use) need to dial more numbers before they can process a successful call. The graph below (taken from the same project) shows that, by the fifth attempt of dialing numbers in the database, only one in 13.5 calls was being reached and processed.

Contact Database Quality - Figure - VCC LiveResults taken from actual VCC Live client data analysis

The traps of bad contact database quality

Often customers don’t answer calls from unknown numbers or are contacted at an inappropriate moment. Sometimes, customers recognize the number calling them, and don’t answer the call on purpose. But why is it unproductive to keep trying to reach the same contacts again and again?

Relying on low-quality data or can bring a negative impact to your business. Imagine how much valuable time your agents spend trying to contact unreachable customers. If agents are using a manual dialer, this means they are spending too much unproductive time dialing and ringing, generating costs but no revenue. While redialing numbers from the same database several times seems logical enough, it can in fact cause multiple problems:

  • chasing unusable leads: instead of working on leads that can generate actual revenue, agents are busy redialing the same numbers, resulting in no business value.
  • poor data costs: time is money, and wasted time means lost money. If agents are not able to generate revenue, they accumulate hourly and daily costs without any revenue to cover them.
  • losing motivation: repeating unproductive tasks, such as redialing hard-to-reach numbers and listening to ringing tones, can have a demotivating effect on your agents and decrease overall morale in your team.

Of course there are ways to easily handle these issues and optimize your processes. Here are a few examples:

  • predictive dialer: a predictive dialer can process unreached numbers in the background and adapt automatically to your reachability ratio, and save agents the demoralizing time spent dialing and listening to ringing tones
  • keep your database updated: if you cannot reach a number after several attempts, don’t transfer this number to a new database. It is better to either try and reach this contact from another number, or remove it from your database for good.
  • rotate outgoing phone numbers: utilize a solution that allows your dialing system to rotate outgoing phone numbers. In case customers don’t take your calls because they recognize the phone number you are calling from, they might reply if you dial from a new and unfamiliar number.

But of course the best solution is knowing when to stop. There are only so many times you should attempt to contact someone. Implement rules for connection attempts and decide how many times your agents should attempt to reach a contact before moving on. Don’t spend time and money pursuing deals that will probably not generate the success you need to be lucrative.

To sum up, decreasing contact database quality can affect the overall quality of your work. And, with reference to the three ingredients mentioned above that make up the recipe of any successful outbound campaign, if you reduce your contact database quality, the quality of your dialing tools and experienced agents will, without doubt, also become reduced.

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