Abstract: This blog examines two different options for scheduling outbound telemarketing and telesales efforts from the SAP CRM Interaction Center: call lists and planned activities. Call lists are ideal when you need to reach out to a prospect or customer for a specific event such as a new promotion. Planned activities on the other hand are better suited for enabling recurring calls. Planned activities are perfect for industries like Consumer Products (CP) or Retail (including food and beverage) that use the Direct Store Delivery (DSD) model. Of course planned activities can also be used outside of Retail and CP; any company whose sales force needs to schedule regularly recurring calls should consider planned activities.
The basic premise of an inbound call center (contact center) is pretty simple: a customer calls and the agent answers the phone. (Of course life is never really so simple; after all, the customer wouldn’t be calling unless they had some incredibly complex and issue they couldn’t resolve on their own). And outbound contact centers offer even more challenges. Which customers should you call (and which are you not allowed to call)? What day and time does each customer prefer to be contacted? How many times should you attempt to reach a particular customer before giving up? Call lists and planned activities can help take the guess work out of outbound telemarketing and telesales efforts by telling the agents exactly who to contact and when to call.
Call lists and planned activities offer two different approaches to scheduling outbound calls. Call lists are great for situations in which you only want to reach out to a customer on a particular occasion – such as in regard to a new campaign or product launch. However, what if you need to reach out to your customers on a regular recurring basis to e.g., schedule daily or weekly shipments or deliveries? In such cases, a more flexible approach called “planned activities” is available that provides an alternative to standard call list functionality. Note: Readers may want to first familiarize themselves with the basics of outbound dialing by reviewing the previously published blog: “Does Automated Outbound Dialing Fit in Your CRM / Call Center Strategy?” which focuses on the three (3) different types of automated outbound dialing (i.e., preview, predictive, and power dialing). Does Automated Outbound Dialing Fit in Your CRM / Call Center Strategy?
The standard option for scheduling planned outbound calls in the SAP CRM Interaction Center is to use Call Lists. With this option, a group of agents are collectively assigned to a shared (typically quite large) call list and take turns processing calls from the list. The agents work down through the shared list, each taking the next call from the top of the sorted list. This approach is ideal for traditional telemarketing and telesales efforts where the contact center agents are supporting a marketing campaign or promotion. To enable call lists and calls to appear in the Call List screen, it is necessary to select the “Generate Call List” flag in SAP GUI transaction CRMD_CALL_LIST when creating a call list.
The second option for working with planned outbound calls is to have each agent be responsible for his or her own set of calls, and to access these calls as planned activities in the Interaction Center via the Agent Inbox rather than via the Call List view. This is a more personalized approach which relies on the planned activity (business transaction) rather than the call-list call. Instead of clicking on Call Lists in the Navigation Bar, the agent navigates to the Agent Inbox and searches for activities that are assigned personally to that agent or agent group. The agent would see all activities that they are responsible for, including (but not limited to) the planned calls generated from the call list. Using the Agent Inbox instead of the Call List view makes sense in any B2B situation where the agent is responsible for calling the same accounts on a regular basis, such as in the Direct Store Delivery model discussed above. To enable planned activities to show up in the Agent Inbox, it is necessary to uncheck (deselect) the “Generate Call List” flag in SAP GUI transaction CRMD_CALL_LIST when creating a call list.