Continuous Improvement for Telemarketing Programs

By Rich Hamilton

After countless hours of planning, preparation, and implementation, you finally have the new telemarketing program in place. The program is running smoothly, and more importantly, client goals and expectations are being met. You have a great operations team in place to keep a close eye on KPIs (key performance indicators), and you make adjustments as needed to continue to reach and exceed client goals.

But does the work stop there? Absolutely not. Even though the telemarketing program is running smoothly and considered a success, you should always look for ways to improve it. Strive for continuous improvement.

Continuous Improvement Process: Each program assessment or evaluation should start with a specific objective. The objective could be focused, such as trying to figure out why the contacts per hour (CPH) is low. Or the goals can be broad, such as assessing all aspects of the telemarketing program to look for possible efficiencies or automation that could be implemented. Knowing the objective in the beginning will guide the rest of the assessment.

After understanding the objectives or goals of the assessment, dig into the program. This can be done in many ways, depending on the type of program. Here’s how to start to dissect the program:

  • Interview: Conduct interviews with stakeholders (executive team, vendors, and the client—if this is an outsourced telemarketing program) and those on the operations team (managers, supervisors, agents, and IT or dialer team). Ask specific questions to better understand how the program is running. This is also a great way to learn about pain points or areas for improvement. Provide these questions ahead of time to help others come to the meeting better prepared.
  • Evaluate: Ask managers and supervisors to provide scripts, training material, and several recorded calls. If there are multiple campaigns involved, have these items for each campaign. Listen to the calls to better understand how the scripts are being used. This will also reveal if the script is organized well for the telemarketing agents.
  • Review: Ask IT for a copy of each dialer report. Look for trends in the data. Focus on the KPIs that are the objective of this assessment.
  • Understand: Gain an understanding of any processes that are happening outside of the dialer. Are there spreadsheets being used for tracking or reporting? Are there processes that could be automated?

After analyzing the information, write a report of the findings and possible solutions. Prioritize the findings by importance or ROI (return on investment). This helps stakeholders see the results in an organized way so they can better make decisions on which items to focus additional hours and resources.

Once decisions are made, work to make changes or implement new processes. Give proper testing and training for new processes or applications.

The last step is to evaluate the whole process. First, see if changes are having the desired effect. Second, evaluate the overall process to make any needed adjustments for the next program assessment.

Having someone from outside assess the program is the most effective. This doesn’t mean it needs to be someone from outside the company. It could be someone from another part of the organization. This person can give the program a fresh look and be objective in evaluating the telemarketing program.

To be successful, it’s important for the company to have a culture of continual improvement, and it’s vital that employees are willing to be a part of the process.

Continuous Imrpovement Benefits: Though this appears to be a lot of work, I have been evaluating telemarketing programs for over four years and have seen some positive outcomes to continual program assessments, such as:

  • Improved Employee Satisfaction: If done correctly, an assessment can have a positive effect on frontline agents by showing that their input matters. Many times ideas told to a supervisor never make it to upper management, but a person coming from the outside with a new perspective encourages sharing and sparks ideas. The possibility of seeing their suggestions become a reality can be a real morale booster for employees.
  • Decreased Costs and Increase Sales: If done properly, a program assessment should show areas for improvement. It could be as simple as adjusting the script or as complex as using a different dialer or application. The results are lower costs or more sales—often both.
  • Increased Opportunities: During one evaluation I found that we weren’t dialing wireless numbers. We presented our findings to the client and did a trial calling wireless numbers. It was such a success that currently about 35 to 40 percent of our dialing for this particular campaign is now to wireless numbers.
  • Enhanced Client Relationships: Telling a happy client that we will do an assessment to improve even more really impresses them. This shows we care about their goals and expectations and want to exceed those expectations through improvement. Many times clients have given us extra work based on this approach.

The moment we decide not to focus energy on improvement will be the time another company will come along that can do the same job we can, but better. Program assessments allow us to evaluate the program and look for ways to make it more efficient, thereby better retaining the business. Not only will the assessment improve the KPIs for the program, it will also strengthen the morale within our companies and set us apart from the competition.

Rich Hamilton is the director of implementation and team improvement leader for Quality Contact Solutions, a leading outsourced telemarketing organization. Rich is responsible for implementing new programs and managing the continuous improvement process of existing programs. With a background of nearly a decade in managing small and large call centers, Rich is passionate about improving efficiencies and decreasing cost per call for every client. In addition, Rich is a telemarketing compliance guru with a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification. Reach Rich at or 516-656-5105.

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