En Español: Managing Your Hispanic Call Center Investment1 Sep, 2011 By: Alex Agurcia Response
To successfully introduce a campaign into the U.S. Hispanic market and garner sales, many elements must align. But one in particular can make or break a campaign and deserves your full attention: it’s your Hispanic call center investment.
Poorly trained agents unable to sell effectively in Spanish; the inability to handle spikes; difficulties in monitoring calls and communicating with the call center; a lack of real-time reporting capabilities — all this and more can affect your campaign’s success. Therefore it’s imperative that marketers and retailers deploying Hispanic campaigns put forth the effort to find the right call center to fit their needs.
Here are some important tips on how to do that:
For On-shore Call Centers
- Validate Spanish campaign experience. Many U.S. call centers are just now trying to break into the U.S. Hispanic market, and it is important to remember that experience counts.
- Validate the number of Spanish-only agents. Very few people can effectively sell in both languages. Be sure to ask if the call center has enough Spanish-only agents to scale up a successful campaign, and if the Spanish team is employed by the call center or a third-party team.
For Off-shore/Near-shore Call Centers
- Ensure PCI compliance. In addition, ensure familiarity with U.S. telemarketing legal and regulatory requirements.
- Ask about reporting capabilities. Ask for sample reports, if you will have the ability to listen in on calls, and if you can access real-time reporting. A good call center should be able to deliver near real-time information about campaign performance.
- Ensure that direct supervisors and account managers are bilingual. Supervisors and account managers should be able to quickly assess any problems as calls are being handled, respond immediately to changes, and communicate the issues to the marketer.
- Confirm the call center’s technical capabilities. What telecom providers do they work with? Do they have the ability to work with overlay or triage systems? Do they have emergency backup systems?
For All Call Centers
- Determine if they can effectively handle spikes. Most Spanish DR campaigns are short-form spots and in a rollout of national broadcast airings you can expect more than 100 calls in a 10-minute period. How will call spikes and excessive call overflow be handled?
- Get a feel for the responsiveness of their management. Ask if you will have real-time access to call center decision makers, account managers and technical staff to address time-critical issues.
- Ask for references. Ask what their experience is with a particular product or service category and offer type. There are many methods of handling continuity, trial offers and price points. Contact as many references as possible to get real feedback.
- Understand the quality control process in place. How are monitoring practices administered and with what frequency? Do they have a quality assurance department? How do supervisors and coaches interact with agents to improve performance?
To optimize results if you don’t have the in-house U.S. Hispanic competencies, work with a marketing partner or campaign manager who specializes in U.S. Hispanic DR to:
- Identify a short list of qualified call centers
- Develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to benchmark success
- Perform regular call monitoring
- Identify outbound and alternate payment strategies
- Review and test inbound script effectiveness
A U.S. Hispanic campaign has many moving parts that are critical to success. Beyond the offer itself and compelling creative, utilizing a sound qualification and management process to identify and rollout the right call center strategy can prove to be the element that makes or breaks a campaign from the start. Do your research and choose — then manage — your U.S. Hispanic call center wisely. The payoff will be worth it. ■
Alex Agurcia is founder and president of Miami-based Omni Direct. He has more than 20 years experience in direct response marketing and can be reached via E-mail at [email protected]