We recently spoke to Chris Hadland (Director of Aura Media Group) to try and understand the often misunderstood world of Offshore Tele Leads. With over twenty years experience in the industry there was absolutely no one better to take us on the journey into this particular area of lead generation.
Below is an abridged extract of the conversation, but for the full monty be sure to check out the B2C Lead Generation Podcast.
Can you give us an overview of how lead generation works in offshore tele leads - from the point of initial generation to sale - and your role within that?
Chris Hadland: Yeah, it's a telephone survey. And in a nutshell, for those that run online surveys, it literally is the telephone version of the same. You have a call centre which phones up consumers, asks them a series of questions relating to the consumer’s interests. For example, who is your provider of X,Y, Z service and would you like a phone call from a company who are sponsoring the questions?
So, we're using the surveys to identify consumers who would be interested in a product. Those leads are then compiled and distributed, either in real time or at the end of the survey call.
Those leads are then purchased by ourselves or a number of companies in our space and then they are then fed into the clients who then call them to sell their products in line with what the customer is expecting.
There is perhaps a negative perspective of offshore tele leads in terms of how the data is originally acquired and the incentive behind the survey. What is the motivation of prospects to take a survey with you?
None of my sources run an incentivised survey. I’d say that habit was dropped (industry wide) maybe seven or eight years ago in terms of “Enter this competition and you may win a prize.” It’s a bit like a co-registration site as in people will have a choice whether to enter, and the key point is always giving the customer choice - it must give them the option to say they don’t want to receive phone calls etc and their wish has always got to be respected - and it must be clear about the information they are giving, who that data is being distributed to and how long that data will be held. The customer has to be very clearly in control.
What makes tele leads unique to other forms of lead generation?
The big USP for telephone survey leads has always been the responsiveness of the individuals. The person is on the telephone now , speaking to a call centre, interacting with an agent, giving their information about what products or services they are interested in. That person has not only expressed themselves directly to another human being over the phone, but they're interested in a product. So, when the client follows up with their own phone call they know the person is more likely to answer the phone and be more responsive.
Compared to an online survey this is also a slightly different demographic. You have an audience who is more likely to engage over the phone than online and we find that certain client services and products do well with that audience.
Typically, the conversion rates are seen as better than co-reg leads, and that’s because of the DMC (decision maker contact) rate. But once you get to the DMC, do you think there’s still better potential?
It can be a lot better, but again it comes down to understanding what the customer journey has been. What questions they have answered. How long the survey call was - we find there is an optimal time a customer will spend on the phone talking to anybody, and there’s a point where the customer just gets bored. So we’ve got to make sure we’re respecting what the customer’s wishes are and training agents to ensure they are able to detect customer’s behaviour.
So when you get to the DMC, we find that how the survey was and what their engagement on the survey was like will massively affect conversion rates.
What are the biggest challenges you face within offshore tele leads?
One of the biggest challenges we face is retaining control when in some cases we are so far apart (from the call centres and agents). Obviously this years has restricted things, but I like to spend time with our suppliers.
There's nothing like being on site in the call centre, listen to the buzz, going and sitting down with some of the team leaders while they're briefing the agents on some new campaigns and some questions, really get to feel for how things are going when I'm so far away. I feel a bit detached
There is some bad press around offshore telephone survey leads, some of that is founded on experiences from bad practices in the past, and some of that is just founded - I believe - on fear of the unknown. So we do spend quite a bit of time with our clients just explaining to them how our suppliers work, what we do as Aura Media to mitigate risks in the middle and to alleviate the fears that are sometimes unfounded.
You must have seen some bad things though? What’s the stuff that’s as bad as it gets? You must’ve seen people splicing call recordings?
I hear stories of things like that. Yeah. You hear stories and practices of things like that happening. I believe, where I am now and historically, we've never been victim to those sort of practices, but you hear stories of things like splicing calls or never even speaking to the customer and just totally forcing leads through.
I suppose if you compare it to an online lead, it's a rogue affiliate. We’ve done online leads in the past and you end up with lots of leads coming through, and if you haven't got the controls in place to spot the rogue work going on… it’s the same with telephone.
But that's down to the management of the broker in the middle, having the trust in the play, then the suppliers you use to ensure that there are systems in place to spot things that could go wrong or could become problems.
For the full conversation, head over to the B2C Lead Generation Podcast now.