What Are Inbound Calls? The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Calling in 2023

November 21, 2022
Contact centre agent with phones

Today's consumer has more options than ever when it comes to contacting a business.

Modern digital channels, such as live chat, SMS and social media, have become increasingly popular in recent years as customer service continues to evolve.

But the emergence of new technology doesn't mean that we should completely disregard traditional customer support. In fact, according to Hubspot, 69% of customers still prefer call support over other contact channels.

As customer calls are clearly here to stay, it's crucial that you make the most of them and don't neglect your inbound calling strategy.

Not sure where to get started? You've come to the right place. In this article, we'll cover:

  • What are inbound calls?
  • The difference between inbound and outbound calls
  • The evolution of inbound calls
  • How to build an inbound calling strategy
Smiling contact center agent

What are inbound calls?

Inbound calls are voice calls that are initiated by existing or potential customers.

They are typically directed to an inbound contact centre, where they are answered and handled by customer advisors. 

There are two main types of inbound calls: customer service calls and sales calls.

Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.

1. Customer service inbound calls

Customer service inbound calls are normally made by existing customers in regards to a complaint or query about the product/service they’ve purchased. 

In these cases, the aim is to resolve the customer’s issue as quickly as possible in order to maintain customer satisfaction and avoid a reputation for poor customer service.

2. Sales inbound calls

Sales inbound calls are typically initiated by interested, potential customers with a question about your brand's products/services.

In these cases, it is the agents job to advise the customer, answer all of their questions, and secure a conversion.

Encouraging inbound calls from potential customers can be a essential part of a successful sales strategy. 

Inbound vs outbound calls 

The difference between inbound and outbound calling is who initiates the call: while inbound calls are initiated by customers, outbound calls are initiated by a business. 

Like inbound calls, outbound calls can also be divided into customer service and sales calls.

Outbound sales calls are often known as ‘cold calls’. We've all experienced these - a random call from an unknown number trying to sell you something.

While these might seem frustrating for many customers, they can be an effective way to capture leads, identify sales opportunities, spread brand awareness. 

Customer service outbound calls are all about market research, which can help optimize the customer experience.

These calls often take the form of phone surveys - agents contact existing customers to ask about their experience and identify ways in which it can be improved. 

Graphic of funnel turning conversations into sales

Evolution of inbound calls: from phones to web calling

Inbound calling has evolved dramatically over the years.

Traditionally, inbound calls were conducted over the phone. Today, it has become common for inbound calls to take place online.

By implementing click to call technology, businesses can receive calls from customers via their website. 

There are many benefits of using web calls in this way. For example, it makes it a lot easier and more convenient for customers to contact you through your website.

Most significantly, it makes inbound calling a part of a your brand's larger omnichannel strategy. 

Man on smartphone

Building an inbound calling strategy

However you choose to implement inbound calls, your inbound calling strategy needs to add to the customer experience.

Let's dive in and explore the key tactics that'll help you build an inbound calling strategy that works. 

Do your research

First things first, you need to ascertain whether you actually need to offer your customers inbound calling capabilities.

There are many benefits to inbound calls, but this doesn’t change the fact that it's the most expensive contact channel to offer.

That's why it’s important to carry out research so that you can weigh up whether this channel is necessary for your brand. 

Different types of customers prefer different types of channels, so you should conduct market research to see if your target audience would utilize this service.

Chances are, if your ideal customers are Generation Z, inbound calling might be a waste of money and resources. 

Contact agent and customer talking

Invest in the right tech

There’s a lot of inbound calling technology on the market and it’s important you find the best one for your agents and existing contact centre systems.

When reviewing different options, keep the following capabilities in mind:

  • CRM integration - inbound calling technology that can integrate with your CRM will grant easy access to any recorded customer history, making it easier for you to provide a personalized service and resolve issues quickly. Exporting leads to your CRM from software like Sales Navigator will help you to capture more qualified leads helping your inbound calling team.
  • Queuing and call routing - any decent inbound calling technology will have queuing and call routing capabilities, which help to manage and direct callers to the right department. Advanced systems will also include the ability to offer customer callbacks in order to reduce queues. 
  • Click to call - offering web calling is now a key part of any inbound calling strategy, so it’s vital your system supports click to call technology.
  • Call tracking - the ability to track where calls are coming from in real time can really help call handlers and can also provide valuable data for monitoring your overall inbound calling strategy. 

These capabilities are must-haves if you want to get the most out of your inbound calls.

With Talkative's web calling, you'll enjoy all these features as well as the ability to seamlessly escalate any voice call to a video chat.

Smiling contact agent

Track your progress

There's no point implementing an inbound calling strategy if you don’t monitor its success and always strive to improve.

Keeping tabs on certain performance metrics is crucial for making sure your strategy is working. The top 5 metrics you should track are:

  • First contact resolution rate
  • Average wait/queue time
  • Abandonment rate
  • Common queries
  • Customer satisfaction

These metrics are the best way to identify the areas in which you're excelling and those which require improvement.

A graphic of a bullseye and icons representing metrics

Introduce more contact channels

Any successful inbound calling strategy will consider how the demand on this contact channel can be reduced.

As we mentioned, inbound calling is the most expensive customer service channel to run and maintain.

It's also one of the least productive channels as agents can only handle one call at a time.

Therefore, it's in your business’ interest to diversify customer support by offering other engagement channels alongside inbound calling.

Live chat, for example, is a great option. Cheaper to run and more efficient, live chat is an easy way to reduce the demand on phone lines, while still offering exceptional customer service from human agents.

And, with Talkative's live chat, your customer advisors will be able to easily escalate any chat interaction to a cobrowsing session, a web call, or even a video chat.

That way, customers who require support beyond web chat are still fully catered for.

By offering multiple channels, you can reserve calls for when they are most effective - such as towards the end of the sales funnel, or to handle urgent and complex customer queries.

Limiting inbound calls to specific circumstances like this can help to reduce the cost they entail. 

Happy smartphone customer

The takeaway

Ultimately, inbound calls are an age-old aspect of customer service that still have a prominent place today.

Still, they're not enough on their own to meet the demands of the modern consumer.

That's why inbound calls should be treated as one element of a versatile customer engagement strategy that grants your customers range of channels to choose from.

But facilitating this requires the right technology: a platform that's specifically designed to connect you with the right customers, via the right channels, at the right time.

And that's where Talkative comes in.

Our platform provides a complete suite of engagement channels that'll empower you to connect instantly, and effortlessly, with your digital customers.

You'll be able to manage inbound web calls, and all other customer conversations, within a single plane of glass.

As a result, your customer advisors will be fully equipped to provide better experiences that will engage and convert more customers than ever before.

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