Since the foundation of ACCUCOMS in 2004, telemarketing has been one of the company’s key services for publishers. In this interview we have asked Egon Menardi, Sales Director, how ACCUCOMS telemarketing services have been developing and what is their added value for academic and professional publishers interested in expanding their market segments and increasing revenue.
Since ACCUCOMS started its activities in 2004, telemarketing has been one of the company’s key services for publishers. In which way has this developed throughout the past nine years, and what is the importance of telemarketing for publishers today?
EM: In over 9 years of experience with calling academic, governmental, hospital, and corporate libraries across the world, gaining insight organizational structures and subject focuses, ACCUCOMS has built strong connections with influencers and decision makers, constantly updating contact information of head of library, periodical librarians, subject specialists, information managers etc. This wealth of information is invaluable for publishers wanting to grow their business globally. In the past 5 years the scope of ACCUCOMS telemarketing campaigns widened considerably, our team tripled and ran about 250 renewal campaigns, ranging from 25 to 1000 calls per project. In Europe and North America our telemarketing campaigns are often close to 100% coverage, while in worldwide campaign peaks of 90% coverage are the normality. For these reasons, many of the most established scholarly publishers have turned to ACCUCOMS for support in chasing lapsed subscriptions, often on a recurring, yearly basis, and often combine renewal campaigns with other telemarketing services we offer.
What are then the value-added services available to publishers through telemarketing?
EM: ACCUCOMS telemarketing service is instrumental for renewal (lapsed) campaigns, pro-active renewal calls, trial promotions, web sourcing and sourcing calls. In renewal (lapsed) campaigns we call lapsed institutional subscribers to find out the status of the subscription. In case of definitive cancellation, we offer incentives and/or found reason for cancellation. In case of an unintended lapse we note requests for renewal invoices, subscription agent changes and relevant reference numbers. Via detailed reporting, including insightful call notes, our clients are able to quickly address customer services issues, track down lost business, send out invoices and quotes timely and update their client contact information, allowing for more efficient client contact in the future. When doing pro-active renewal calls we call current subscribers to remind and ensure that they will renew their subscription, inquire if they have any queries or outstanding subscription/customer service issues with publisher or agent. This is a very important services, as through our pro-active renewal calls publishers are given the chance for a fresh and up-to-date outlook at what is really going on with academic and corporate libraries, how these are changing, their financial and legislative situation. Pro-active renewal calls are, truly, a strategic tool for publishers to direct their business and address their investments. Trial promotion campaigns, on the other hand, are mostly used by publishers to promote journals, collections, upsell- and upgrade options and online solutions. We offer free trials and help prospects with the setup of these. Finally, ACCUCOMS also offers web sourcing and sourcing calls to enrich basic organization lists we receive from publishers with missing information such as address information, name of relevant librarian, phone number, email address etc.; if required ACCUCOMS telemarketing team can run the complete list building process from scratch. In doing this, ACCUCOMS can deliver a ready-to-go, up-to-date mailing list within weeks, enabling publishers to easily reach essential market segments. In addition to these services ACCUCOMS also offers online activation, identifying librarians with responsibility for activating access to increase online registration and usage within libraries; and lead qualification and market mapping campaigns, helping publishers to maximize their sales effort by reviewing and qualifying their prospects. Recently, ACCUCOMS has served multiple publishers and other information providers, delivering extensive job title lists, richly detailed with address, phone and e-mail information ranging from general worldwide library overviews to detailed lists of clinics and hospitals in defined countries. In this respect, this service can be further improved if coupled with Ringgold databases, of which ACCUCOMS is unique global reseller.
What do statistics say about their effectiveness to increase subscription revenues?
EM: Analysis pointed out that over the past years, despite ever shrinking library budgets, ACCUCOMS has been able to keep on running fruitful telemarketing campaigns, for instance, generally achieving direct trial request rates of 15% or more and overall information requests usually exceeding 50% from libraries in all continents, truly reflecting the global effects of ACCUCOMS telemarketing. Of course, publishers receive a detailed campaign report combining clear statistical and informed organizational/contact information, again enriched by detailed, insightful call notes. It goes without saying that reaching out new clients become very easy at this point.
How do publishers and ACCUCOMS coordinate the launch and the closure of a telemarketing campaign?
EM: Coordination with ACCUCOMS is basically occurring on two occasions: 1) when receiving data from the publisher to structure a given campaign and to write the script our telemarketing team will be referring to during conversation; 2) and when reporting to the publisher. Once we receive the data containing a publisher’s lapsed subscribers, prospect, current clients, depending on the scope of the campaign, we will “clean up” the data and fill in and or update where necessary the contact at the library, their e-mail address, the library address, phone number. We will also sort the data to be sure of the number of unique subscriptions. Once we proceed with completed data, we load it into our telemarketing software system with an approved script to start calling. Reporting is constant while campaigns are still running. We report weekly updates to the publisher on number of calls made, number of upgrades, trial requests, invoice requests reasons for not upgrading, etc. We customize these updates according to the publisher’s specifications and detail them as much as our clients would like to receive, ensuring ongoing client satisfaction. Of course, every call has a detailed Individual Call Report (ICR), providing publishers the most insightful information about the call, the contact, the information gained and how to proceed. ICRs are summarized at the end of the campaign and the assigned account manager writes a Summary Report of the entire campaign. Eventually, publishers receive the Summary Report and a full overview of ICRs one week after the final call has been made.
How many telemarketing teams does ACCUCOMS have, who are the people composing them and where are they located?
EM: ACCUCOMS has four multilingual telemarketing teams located in the United States (Landsdale, PA), New Delhi, Ankara, and in our headquarters in Leiden, the Netherlands. With telemarketing offices located in three continents, ACCUCOMS can reach libraries all over the world, regardless of different time zones. Thanks to their linguistic skills, our call agents have built relationships with the librarians in Latin America, Northern, Western and Southern Europe, USA, Canada and Asia. Because of our relationships with these librarians we receive honest feedback and a high acknowledgement rate.