July 19, 2019 by Pam Ferguson

Feedback from the Frontline: Outbound Calling Tips from Customer Service Representatives


A shocking 70 percent of broadband subscribers either recently changed their communications service provider or considered switching to a new provider, according to a recent study by Independence Research.

Subscribers switch providers for many reasons, but often they are frustrated with their broadband experience simply because they’re on the wrong service tier and aren’t aware that a more suitable option is available. Several Calix customers are taking a proactive approach to customer care by training their customer service representatives (CSRs) to make outbound calls to get ahead of the frustration. They’re seeing great results.

For example, Nemont, a Montana-based telecommunications cooperative, ran a four-week marketing campaign in collaboration with their customer service team. They saw a 59 percent take rate on their upgrade offer.

Direct mail and email promotions are great to get the word out about new plans and offers, but nothing replaces a one-on-one conversation with the subscriber. However, outbound calling is a new skill for most CSRs. Since they are trained and are most familiar with taking calls, they may be hesitant at first to initiate conversations.

Alex Hansen and Lyndsey Maldonado, CSRs at Nemont, share some tips based on their own successful outreach to improve subscriber satisfaction and retention.

1. Be prepared before you dial. Before your CSRs pick up the phone to call subscribers, they need to be ready. Give them the information and tools they need to be confident in their conversations. Follow these easy steps to prepare:

  • Align on a target segment: Don’t call everyone! Start by identifying the subscribers most likely to upgrade. For example, you might segment your campaign to focus first on subscribers on the lowest service tiers or those who have reported the most performance-related trouble tickets. You might target subscribers who watch a lot of Netflix or have gamers in the household that are frequently maxing out their bandwidth.
  •  Create calling scripts: Have talking points ready for the subscriber conversation. Following a conversation guide will help CSRs who are new to outbound calling feel more comfortable when speaking with subscribers.
  • Develop targeted offer: Align the offer to best suit the subscribers’ needs or concerns. A no-commitment trial offer is often a very effective tool to increase conversion. Subscribers can upgrade to faster Internet without the risk of being locked in long term, but most people won’t go back to the lower tier once they have experienced better performance.

2. Ask the right questions. With the right tools, your CSRs can access a lot of the details about the subscriber and their experience. However, there’s often an incipient fear that this knowledge will be perceived as creepy to the subscriber.

Instead of leading with what you know, it’s better to ask open-ended questions and let the subscriber describe the problems they’re experiencing. For example, ask questions such as: “Tell me about your home Internet usage and experience,” “Tell me about the users in your home,” or “How is your steaming/gaming experience?”

Keep in mind that the account holder may be content with the quality of the Internet service, but they may have children or grandchildren who regularly max out the bandwidth and complain.

3. Be solutions-oriented. Avoid the hard sell and build trust with the subscriber. It’s far more effective for your CSRs to be problem solvers and take an educational approach. Start by explaining how the problems they may be experiencing can be solved.

In many smaller communities, when the CSRs are actively engaged in community activities and representing your brand, it is imperative that they are armed with the right knowledge to address concerns and continue to be seen as advisors, constantly maintaining that trust.

4. Use the right tone. When calling subscribers, tone is everything. Avoid jargon. Using simple, straightforward knowledge keeps it conversational and ensures the subscriber is comfortable.

Even if a technical explanation is sometimes required, keep it brief and focus more on how it will be addressed and how quickly subscriber experience can be improved.

Service providers like Nemont are using Calix Support Cloud, along with Calix Marketing Cloud, to empower their CSRs with the right information to drive higher close rates and improve subscriber retention. With the right data, and collaborative teams, you can ensure subscribers are on the best service plans to fit their needs and budgets—and you have happier, more profitable subscribers.

Similar to Nemont, SCTelcom’s marketing team saw a 52 percent campaign take rate by joining forces with their CSRs. To learn more, watch the webinar recording here