Call center services might seem similar on the surface, but the details of each company’s offerings can vary quite widely. Once you start asking specific questions, the differences among the companies will start to become more apparent. To find out which vendor is right for your business, here are a few questions to ask yourself and features to look for in a call center service.
1- Inbound and outbound services. A major function of call center services is to accept calls to answer customers’ questions about your business’s products or services. Call centers can often provide information or technical support, as well as take orders and process payments over the phone. Many will also dispatch calls to you in the event a customer needs to speak directly with someone inside the company. All of these services fall under the “inbound services” umbrella.
Some call centers also offer outbound services, which include lead generation, such as cold calling and survey-data compilation. These services can also include follow-ups with previous customers to ensure their satisfaction or to further encourage a successful conversion. Some call centers also conduct feedback surveys or engage in customer win back attempts when you’ve lost someone’s business. Traditionally, call centers were viewed as a necessary expense to preserve existing relationships, but
when you consider these additional functions, call centers can actually broaden your customer base, forge new relationships and bring in more money.
Not every business needs both inbound and outbound services, so consider your business’s requirements. Once you know exactly what you need, ask each call center service which inbound and outbound services it offers.
2- Dedicated and/or shared agents? The best call center services offer both dedicated and shared agents. Dedicated agents are assigned only to your account, giving your company their full time and attention. This is best for those businesses with specific, detailed needs that demand familiarity and consistency from their agents.
For those companies with more general needs, however, a shared agent might be more appropriate. These agents handle multiple clients of the call center, including your company, and don’t necessarily answer your business’s calls 100 percent of the time. These services are often cheaper but effective for those companies that don’t require specified attention day in and day out.
3- Reporting. A call center will be dealing directly with your customers, meaning it could have a great influence on how they perceive your business. Reporting offers you a window into the day-to-day operations of the call center service you’ve hired.
4- What is the call center’s availability? Another important question to ask is how often agents at the call center are available. Good services have 24/7/365 availability for your customers. Selecting a service that is always available and very reliable should be a major focus for your business.
5- What is my anticipated call volume per month? Some call center services have minimum volume requirements. These services might not be suitable for a small company that doesn’t expect many customer service calls or doesn’t intend to make many outbound calls. However, for a larger company or one that relies heavily on phone contact with customers, these services might make more sense. Try to accurately gauge your call volume and estimate how many call center agents you might need before searching for a call center service. This is especially important for pricing, since some call centers charge for a package of minutes, rather than by the month.
6- How does a company handle outages? Call centers are an integral component of many businesses. Downtime can seriously harm your business if your customers are unable to get through to the call center agents. That means you’ll want to partner with a call center that is dependable, with reliable redundancy and a solid disaster-recovery plan so that an outage doesn’t cripple your productivity.
7- Does the company offer multilingual services? If your business needs to reach a bilingual or multilingual audience, you’ll want to partner with a call center that has fluent speakers on staff. Many call centers offer Spanish-speaking services, and others even offer a wide array of languages to choose from. If you’re in need of a multilingual service, be sure to ask up front which languages the call center can provide for you.
This guide will help you understand the variety of call center services available and determine which one is right for your business in 2018.