The word call-center conjures up images of rules of cubicles staffed by workers with headphones. You can tell by these images that there are two important components in a call center – the people and the technology. No call-center can work effectively without either. Many call centers have upgraded to VoIP phone service to manage call volume.
Call-center phone systems – also called VoIP services – are vital to any organization. While some call centers are large, a business can have one with just a couple of employees. Large multinational corporations may have multiple call centers. A retail store may have a small office with a dozen people. Both are call centers. So what makes a call center and what do you need to run it?
Broadly speaking, a call center is a location with the phone system that exclusively handles incoming and outgoing calls. If your team also manages other channels like email, fax, chat, etc. it’s called a contact center.
The most common use of the call center is customer support. Depending on the type of business, the same department may handle technical support, product support or billing as well. A call center handles more calls than the average office. As such, your employees need a dedicated system that can fit their specific requirements.
Call centers can handle outbound or inbound, or even both. Organizations use inbound call centers for servicing customers or suppliers. Some businesses use call centers to fulfill orders also. Examples include businesses with mail-order catalogs or delivery services (florist, bakery, etc.) Consultants may offer professional services to call centers as well.
Outbound call centers are used for telemarketing, connecting surveys, market research, and debt collection. The same organization may have both inbound and outbound call centers in one location. Some businesses prefer to contract call-center services to third-party vendors.
Small and medium businesses typically do not have specialized contact centers. They usually have an internal department with a few employees who handle customer calls. But even if your call center is a small one, you can benefit from call-center phone systems. Even if you don’t consider the benefits, your existing phone system may be affecting your business negatively.
Keep in mind that call-center employees have different requirements than your typical office worker. If you use the same phone system for both groups, one of them is not being served well.
Call centers are notorious for providing poor customer service. It’s ironic when you consider the main aim of call centers is to solve customer problems! A typical customer interaction in a call center might go something like this:
Imagine how frustrated your customers are if this is their experience each time. Poor service will drive away loyal customers. You’re less likely to get repeat sales. Word-of-mouth can also impact potential customers. After all, would you do business with such a company?
Your existing call center phone system is likely costing you in terms of sales, revenue, or profits. You just don’t realize it. Bad call quality, long hold lines and lack of features makes it harder for agents to close sales. Tech support agents cannot solve problems in a timely manner. Your call center is more likely to miss deadlines and solve customer issues. Upgrading to a better call-center phone system can save you money and improve overall profits!
Your brand can easily suffer from poor customer service. While a company’s brand is intangible, the consequences are very visible. Your customers may start viewing you as unprofessional. If you cannot manage a call center properly, how can they trust you to provide services correctly? Unfortunately, the effects of damaging your brand are not immediate. They can take a while to manifest. But once the process starts, it’s very hard to turn it around. A positive brand image can do wonders for your products and services. But keep in mind that the opposite is also true.
Remember when we talked about customer frustration? They’re not the only ones getting annoyed with your bad call-center phone systems. It is likely your employees are not very happy either. They are the ones who have to deal with angry and upset people all the time. Ineffective technology simply makes their job that much harder.
Frustrated employees cannot provide high quality customer service. Poor service leads to even more unhappy customers. With the high call volume, your employees are under increasing pressure to solve problems quickly. In short, a bad phone system leads to frustrated customers and employees. All these issues will affect your bottom line, sooner or later.
You’ve seen the consequences of using an inefficient phone system. So what does good call-center technology look like? Here’s what you should be looking for:
Some phone features are universal. They are useful for every department and type of business. Examples are visual voicemail and call hold. But some features are more specialized. For instance, a feature like skills based routing is crucial for a call center. It allows managers to route calls to the agent with the right set of skills to solve a particular problem. The same feature is likely useless for an accountant in the finance department.
What does this mean for you? When shopping for a call center phone system, look for specific features that fulfill your needs. Common among them are hold queues, hunt groups, Interactive Voice Response systems, and advanced call routing.
Most businesses use a variety of software such as CRM and ticketing tools. Look for a solution that will integrate with your existing systems. You want to avoid situations where customers have to repeat their questions multiple times to different people. Or customers call your call center and there’s no record of their previous encounter. Integrating your phone system with ticketing tools and CRM software will provide additional benefits. You will save time and improve customer service as well.
Your phone systems should be reliable. That means they should work no matter what. An outage of even a few hours or minutes will cost you. Look for a vendor that can guarantee uptime. Most reputed providers will offer service level agreements. These agreements set out their responsibilities in case of service failures.
Before selecting a provider, ask questions about their infrastructure. Do they have backup data centers? Can they provide services even if your Internet stops working (automatic failover)? Don’t hesitate to ask difficult questions. You need the answers before making a decision.
Quite a few vendors offer a plethora of rising plans under the guise of providing choice. In reality, clients are more likely to get confused with so many options. The plans may not be very different from one another but vary in the sticker price. Hidden fees and premium charges can further complicate matters.
Some providers set prices by the number of seats. Others will bill you according to usage. If you handle thousands of long-distance calls regularly, you might want to look into unlimited packages. Make sure you understand the pricing model and work out a budget. You shouldn’t be surprised when you get an estimate or the final bill!
Many vendors offer specialized versions of their services tailored to call centers. These versions come with all the necessary features you might want in one neat package. However, they may also be overkill for your needs. Not every business wants to pay for features that you’re not going to use. These specialized versions are more suitable for larger companies with designated call centers.
Growing businesses may instead opt for general VoIP phone solutions. You can easily customize them to fit your needs. Add the features and resources you require at the right time. What’s more, you can also remove lines if you no longer use them. It also saves you the hassle of buying and using separate phone services for different parts of the office.
At VoIPstudio, we offer reliable and inexpensive phone solutions. We take care of the phones, so you can take care of your customers. Choose from carefully selected plans that fit your budget. Personalize features to your heart’s desire and watch your business boom!
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Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?
Thousands of businesses across the world trust VoIPstudio for all of their most vital business communications. Why not be the next?Start my trial! Take a 30 day free trial
Start a free 30 day trial now, no credit card details are needed!