A proper channel of communication is the very lifeline upon which the success or failure of a business depends. However, personalised communication might not always be possible, and in a few scenarios, it need not be either.
An automated phone call serves as an instrument for information dissemination, and also provides a way to simplify complex B2B and B2C transactions.
Businesses which are currently operating in multiple domains are consistently looking for systems that can facilitate efficient and seamless interactions. It thus comes as no surprise that the strategy of using automated calls as a reliable mode of communication has begun to grow in use and popularity.
What are automated calls?
As the name itself suggests, an automated call is essentially a form of communication in which a pre-recorded voice message is relayed to a prospective or existing customer. The purpose of this message can be as varied as seeking feedback, setting up reminders, promoting an event or conducting a follow-up. These calls can be made to a huge number of people, individually or simultaneously, at a predetermined time.
Automated calls is made much easier with APIs. Exotel’s Call API helps automate your outbound calls. Integrating REST voice APIs can trigger calls to your customers based on customised events.
Steps to make an automated phone call
A lot of businesses wonder how to make automated phone calls because they are unsure about the infrastructural, human and resource-based costs that it would incur. They are also a little apprehensive about the potential benefits of adopting automated outbound calls and messages as a telemarketing strategy.
However, automated calls to customers are easy to make and simple to use. All you need to do is:
- Register yourself on a platform like Exotel that offers the auto-dialler software.
- Prepare a profile of the customers you want to target and upload their numbers in a spreadsheet, a database or any other contact management system.
- Filter out the numbers registered in the ‘Do not call’ lists to ensure that legal compliance is maintained.
- Record the message you intend to relay. This can either be done in a human voice or via a text-to-speech format.
- Set conditions on when the calls need to trigger. For example: when a delivery fails.
- (Report) Review your outbound voice broadcasting system log details. Find out how many calls were answered live and how many were sent to voicemail. In case of the latter, an alternate message can be recorded and delivered.
Whether you are setting up an automated calling system for schools for payment reminders or are making automated appointment reminder phone calls, the sheer effortlessness and proficiency of the entire process is bound to help you deal with various communication challenges.
What are the features of automated calls?
Making automated calls to cell phones is considered to be a wise way to facilitate productive and fruitful interactions. This is because they carry a variety of significant features like
- Low setup costs: No special equipment needs to be purchased to make automated calls. Neither is a rampant infrastructural change required to be brought about. Thereby, the associated setup costs are low.
- Scheduling calls: Automated calls can be scheduled at a predetermined date and time. This gives you the space to make adequate preparations and schedule a call in accordance with the resources available to you.
- Unlimited channels: If you want to make automated phone calls for business, having multiple channels can prove to be highly advantageous. The same number can be used to make parallel campaigns while their details are being stored on the dashboard.
- Dynamic reporting: Consider that the system is being used to record automated voice messages for feedback. The dashboard will provide real-time data about who was contacted and what feedback was received. These reports enable a detailed and thorough tracking of outcomes.
- Reduced operational costs: The operational costs of the business are likely to come down as except for setting up calls, there is no requirement for manual intervention whatsoever. This implies that the cost of manual labour will reduce by almost 64%!
- Integration with CRM: With CRM integration, the expected outcome of the automated calls can be measured easily. This form of measurement further allows a business to form a comprehensive and detailed communication strategy.
At this juncture, it becomes important to analyze if making automated calls to customers is indeed the best way forward. In order to do this, one must compare it to another vital tool of communicating with customers – Short Message Service (SMS).
Why automated calls are preferred over SMS campaigns
Automated calls, as previously discussed, use a pre-recorded message to interact with people, which can either be one way or two way. A two-way call prompts recipients to respond by pressing certain keys on their cell phone. The exact same provision is available in SMS campaigns as well, except, that the response needs to be typed in text.
Here are a few attributes of both these instruments, which can help you make an objective comparison:
- Higher response rate: The response rate for automated calls is much higher than that of sending an SMS. A message may or may not be replied to, but a call is more likely to be answered.
- Greater reach: The automated call system has a greater reach as compared to an SMS campaign. This is because even semi-literate customers can respond to a call but they may not be able to read and respond to an SMS. Therefore, the sample size of SMS campaigns is narrower while calls have a wider domain.
- Better information broadcast: An automated call can convey a significantly greater amount of information than an SMS campaign. The content which can be transmitted in just one minute of an outbound voice broadcasting system is substantially higher than what can be packed into one SMS.
- Less expensive: Owing to a better response rate, the price of making calls via auto-dialler software for a call center is lower. On the other hand, an SMS campaign is more expensive in terms of the basic costs incurred.
- Better engagement: Automated calls are more engaging as compared to text messages. This is why the success rate of using an automated calling system for appointments is much higher than an SMS because being dynamic, it immediately captures the customer’s attention and encourages a response.
- Real-time reporting: In comparison to SMS campaigns, the usable data generated by automated calls is higher. While SMS campaigns can only give you information about open rates, automated call reporting is much more exhaustive. This can be instrumental in deciding if one wants to go ahead with the same form of messaging or make appropriate changes to it.
As a result, when it comes to automated calls vs SMS campaigns, making automated phone calls for business would prove to be a more effective alternative than an SMS campaign, especially when you are catering to a large audience. This is primarily owing to their quick and responsive nature.
How businesses use automated calls?
People often wonder how do automated phone calls work for most business. Are they merely used to deliver automated outbound calls and messages? Or can they also be utilized for making automated appointment reminder phone calls?
Usually, businesses use the software to make automated phone calls for accomplishing the following objectives:
- Connecting with customers
- Scheduling appointments
- Receiving feedback
- Client outreach
- Integrated call campaigns
- Setting up reminders
- Product marketing
For instance, a hair salon might use the automated call feature to contact a customer for feedback, right after their visit. This wouldn’t just help them understand a customer’s experience, but it would also provide the customers with a platform to air their grievances. Similarly, automated calls can also be used as a way to remind clients about an upcoming appointment or making a telephone bill payment on time.
Therefore, whether you are using an automated calling system for appointments or are employing an automated reminder system for payments, its versatility and value is an asset that has the capability of benefiting many organizations.
Automated calls best practices
Just grappling with the question of how to make automated phone calls does not normally suffice. One needs to figure out the perfect way of making their automated outbound calls and messages campaign successful. This is why many companies have been consistently experimenting with different forms of broadcasting tools which can enable them to make automated calls better.
In fact, organizations across the world have begun to craft and deploy various techniques in order to facilitate making efficient automated calls to customers. Such efforts have collectively resulted in the development of certain best practices which majorly include:
- Conducting a detailed research on who the target audience is and customizing the message accordingly.
- Localizing the message according to the audience profile. This includes gauging their literacy level and using their preferred language.
- Giving clear and specific instructions by making the pre-recorded message as precise as possible.
- Sticking to a call duration between one or two minutes. Anything lesser or longer would be intrusive.
- Finding a good time to make calls. This should entirely be based on the availability of the customers to see a good response rate.
- Setting up automatic retries if the customers don’t answer in the first go or leaving them concise voicemail messages.
- Carrying out a thorough analysis of the feedback received and making appropriate modifications.
- Making sure that no calls are made to customers who have listed their numbers with the national ‘do not call’ registry.
Adhering to these practices would ascertain that your outbound voice broadcasting system remains cost-effective and sustainable for a long period of time. Additionally, this would also make sure that your attempts at automated calling are well-received and highly successful.
How leading innovators use Exotel’s automated call feature
All of us know Swiggy! They are an online food hub that delivers food from local restaurants to the customer’s doorstep. However, the company was facing major problems as a number of times restaurants weren’t able to realize that a new order had been placed. It was the responsibility of Swiggy to remind them about the order but calling every restaurant manually was proving to be a challenging, if not an impossible task.
This is where Exotel came in!
Swiggy used the automated phone call feature to notify the restaurant that a new order had been placed. This didn’t just help improve operational productivity but it also helped reduce delivery delays. Delighted by the success of this venture, Swiggy tasked Exotel with confirming Cash-on-delivery orders. The customers received an automated call which prompted them to reconfirm the order by pressing a key on their cell phone. Not only did this boost work efficiency but it also assisted in eliminating bogus orders.
At one point of another, we have all used Ola! It is a leading cab aggregator which was facing the difficulty of informing its drivers about the new features and offers it introduced from time to time. Calling the drivers individually was going to be an expensive and unmanageable affair. Therefore, Ola was on the lookout for a seamless and smart solution.
They used Exotel to make automated phone calls in order to inform the drivers about Ola’s new offers and features. This helped the company ensure that their drivers were consistently kept in the loop about all new developments.
The way forward
The process of making automated calls to customers has now begun to progress by leaps and bounds. Their affordability, sustainability and relevance are the three major pillars upon which their success rests. Being simple to implement and easy to rely on, they have helped many businesses enhance customer communication. In the future, as the number of everyday interactions will continue to grow, automated calls to cellphones are bound to keep providing valuable and viable solutions.