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Outbound Call Tips

Top 5 Tips for Making Outbound Calls

Is your team too idle during slower seasons? Rather than wasting precious company time, they could be reaching out to customers through outbound calling to capture additional leads — and increased revenue for your service business.

“We can’t just sit around and wait for the phone to ring,” says Angie Snow, ServiceTitan’s Director of Customer and Product Training. “We really need to be proactive, especially in the shoulder season. 

“The most successful companies know there’s a gold mine waiting to be discovered with outbound calling,” she adds. “Outbound calls really can help you nurture that client relationship.”

And nurturing an existing customer relationship costs your company a whole lot less than trying to acquire a new customer. Do you know your company’s customer-acquisition costs? If not, you should, Snow says. In the HVAC industry alone, according to a 2019 study by Decision Analyst, it costs companies $350 on average to acquire one new customer.

“Nurturing that client relationship, so they do repeat business with you, then refer you to their friends, their clients, their family — that is a much more efficient and effective way to keep customers, rather than continuing to have to spend to get new ones, over and over again,” Snow explains. “The better you understand what your customer retention rates are, the more you'll profit.” 

In a recent webinar, Snow identifies the five best types of outbound calls to make, and explains the who, where, when, why, and how to make this best practice part of your company’s regular routine.

What Stops You from Making Outbound Calls?

Service companies often come up with various reasons for not making outbound calls, Snow says. The excuses might range from overthinking the process and fears of rejection, to not even knowing where to begin. 

Snow says the most common reasons for not making outbound calls include:

  1. They don’t know what to say. Squash this excuse, she says, by giving your team an easy call script or guideline to follow along and promote your company’s services. 

  2. They don’t want to bother or upset customers. “That’s a mindset issue,” Snow says.

  3. They fear rejection. Also a mindset issue, she adds.

  4. They’re not sure whom to call. “Why don’t we start with our customers?” Snow says. “That’s a good place to start. It can be very intimidating to make pure cold calls out to random people.”

  5. They don’t know what to offer when calling customers. You can give them a hook or special offer to help build the customer relationship, but sometimes it starts with a simple “Thank you,” she says.

  6. They don’t employ anyone willing to make outbound calls. If your company employs CSRs, and no calls are coming in, then you have employees who can make outbound calls. “But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this,” Snow says. “You want to set up your CSRs for success. You want to give them the tools, the structure, the guidelines, the scripts, and the ability to do this, and do it right.”

  7. They don’t have enough time. “That, my friends, is an excuse. We all have time,” Snow says. “It’s important to think about how we’re managing our time. Are you designating a specific time for outbound calls to be made?”

  8. They never had luck with making outbound calls in the past. In response to this one, Snow shared a quote from Henry Ford: "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely." 

“It’s everybody’s job to make sure the dispatch board is full,” Snow says. “We're going to keep your boards full, we're going to keep your teams busy, and because of that your business will be profitable, it will be successful.” 

5 Types of Outbound Calls Your Company Should be Making

Outbound calls fall into the following five categories:

  1. The Happy Call

  2. Recurring Services

  3. Expired Memberships

  4. Unsold Estimates

  5. Idle Accounts

The Happy Call

  • Who? Customers who just received service from your company, whether for repair, maintenance, or installation.

  • Where? From anywhere, no matter if your team works from the office or at home.

  • When? Once the job is complete, make the call the same day, within three days, or within one week. “I'm not going to say there's a right way or wrong way. There are pros and cons to all of these,” Snow says. “You decide when it's going to be done, and you do it consistently.” 

  • Why? To increase customer satisfaction, nurture that relationship, and look for additional opportunities.

  • How? Prepare a script or form that gives your CSRs guided questions. It’s also OK to send customers a survey by text or email to gauge their happiness and satisfaction.

Recurring Services

  • Who? Customers who receive services from your company on a regular basis, including homeowners, commercial businesses, and property management companies.

  • Where? From anywhere, no matter if your team works from the office or at home.

  • When? Two to three weeks before their scheduled service, or when you’re hoping to get them scheduled. “We do it a little bit early, so we can make sure we get everyone on our schedule booked on time. We don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks,” Snow says.

  • Why? To make sure customers get scheduled on time and nurture that relationship.

  • How? Identify which customers need to schedule service, then automate the process. With ServiceTitan’s Marketing Pro, for instance, you can set up automated campaigns to schedule recurring services and automatically communicate to customers.

Expired Memberships

  • Who? Any customers who let their memberships lapse or didn’t renew the last time.

  • Where? From anywhere, no matter if your team works from the office or at home.

  • When? Anytime you want to beef up your company’s memberships to keep your team busy and help your service business grow.

  • Why? Let your customers know why it’s important to renew an expired membership, and include the answer to “why” as part of your script, such as: 

“We want to make sure you’re not missing out on any of your membership benefits, so you can continue to get the same great service and discounts that you've gotten in the past. We wanted to let you know we value you.”

  • How? Use a prepared script with guided questions, then set up automated communication within the ServiceTitan platform.

“If you use ServiceTitan, you can automatically send something out to your customers when their membership lapses, and start that conversation,” Snow says. “You can follow up with a phone call after you’ve sent that automated email or text.”

Unsold Estimates

  • Who? Customers who received an estimate for a higher-ticket item or repair from your company, but have yet to make a decision.

  • Where? From anywhere, no matter if your team works from the office or at home. Some companies employ specific follow-up coordinators to resolve unsold estimates, while others use CSRs or inside sales teams.

  • When? As a company, you decide when to have your team follow up on unsold estimates within a certain timeframe, such as three, seven, or 10 days. Following up is key, but consistency also matters.

  • Why? To close the sale, grow your customer base, and increase company revenue.

  • How? Use a prepared script with guided questions, then set up automated communication. 

To identify CSRs with potential for making sales through outbound calling, Snow uses the DiSC personality assessment model with every team member to identify their communication and behavior styles. This model identifies four main personality styles: D for Dominance; i for Influence, S for Steadiness, and C for Conscientiousness.

“Look for people who are kind of in the D and i category. These are going to be your people who will be really good at these types of calls. The Ss and Cs will be a little more hesitant,” Snow says. “Keep that in mind as you're looking at DISC profiles, to determine who in your company can do this.”

CSRs may get nervous about making outbound calls, but only because they think they need to know all of the answers about a particular product or service. They don’t, Snow says, but your call script should prompt them to assure the customer you will find the answers to their questions and get back to them.

“Your job is to book the call,” Snow says. “You are a problem-solver, you find out what problems, what questions they have, and then you go to the people in your company who know the answers and you get the answers, then you give them back to the customer. You are that in-between person.”

Idle Accounts

  • Who? Customers who have not engaged your services for a period of time, typically one year.

  • Where? From anywhere, no matter if your team works from the office or at home. 

  • When? Do it on a quarterly basis, at least. Start with a specific campaign focused on a service or product the customer may find beneficial. Send them a direct mail piece or email marketing to let them know about your company’s new service offerings.

“Remember, how is this helping the customer? They don't want to talk to you unless you're here to help,” Snow says.

  • Why? To re-engage previous customers and grow company revenue.

“How can we re-engage them?” Snow asks. “That’s really what these types of outbound calls are meant to do.”

  • How? Follow up on specific marketing campaigns about a week after, with a prepared script and guided questions.

Your Idle Accounts call script may look something like this:

“Hello Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, this is so-and-so from my company. I am just calling to thank you so much for being a partner in our business in the past, and to make sure you received the email we sent about this new service we're offering. Did you get that? You've been such a valued customer in the past, we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on this opportunity. So, I wanted to take a little bit of extra time today and give you a call to make sure you received it, and see if you had any questions? We've got some openings on our schedule next week that we've saved just for this specific offer.”

“So, you create some type of hook, an offer, or even promotion of an existing service. But then you're doing a follow-up call to them. You know what the messaging is, and now you're simply reinforcing that with them,” Snow says.

5 Best Practices for Outbound Calling

Before implementing best practices for outbound calling, your team may need to adjust their mindset.

“I want you to know that you're not bothering the customer, you're assisting them. That's something you need to keep in your mind,” Snow says. “Never start a call by saying, ‘I'm sorry to bother you.’ Or, ‘I'm sorry, I hate to disrupt you right now.’ 

“As soon as you do that, it diminishes your credibility and your authority. Confidently pick up the phone and just start with a thank you.”

Thank them in a happy call for allowing your tech to provide the services they needed. Thank them for their past membership and loyalty to your company. Or thank an idle-account customer for their past business, then let them know about a great offer.

Then, follow these 5 best practices:

1. Prepare a script. Include a voicemail script, too, in case no one answers the phone. It’s also OK to borrow scripts from others in your industry, but don’t just plug and play.

 “Don't just take it and implement it,” Snow says. “You need to review it. You need to make sure that script is going to work for you, for your community, for your customer base, and that it accurately represents the voice of your company.” 

2. Do your research. Pull customer reports to know the when, who, what, and how of whatever the call entailed. What was the resolution? How much did you charge? Did they sign up for a membership? Is there anything outstanding to follow up on?

3. Know your customers’ communication preferences, and follow up with them in the way they prefer — by phone, email or text. “The cool thing about ServiceTitan is you can do that all within our platform. You can text, email, or call everything from there,” Snow says.

ServiceTitan’s Phones Pro helps your team increase efficiency and book more jobs with features such as Voicemail Drop and PowerDialer to better automate the process.

4. Create a system for each type of call. Document the process, and give your CSRs specific training and direction.

“Show them the who, what, where, when, why, and how. They should understand why we're doing this, who specifically we're targeting, when we should be making these calls,” Snow says.

5. Set goals for your team. Try to make it fun and work together as a team to reach company goals. Use graphics, pie charts, and leaderboards to get everyone excited, and create incentive plans for the team when they hit their goals.