It seems like there are not enough hours in a day when running a business. At the beginning all businesses require staff that would do more than one task and this is why sometimes answering the phone or connecting with customers can be unintentionally put aside, because this takes time away from the key operations of the business. But the availability to answer the phones is necessary to achieve good customer service which will help the business grow by retaining happy customers and gaining new ones.
And this is why partnering with a call center can be extremely beneficial, but before you partner with an outsourcing service provider there are a few things you need to know:
- Hiring a call center can be a hard decision. Businesses should hire a call center when they no longer have enough resources to manage the lines and keep key operations running, or when maintaining an in-house call service gets too expensive.
- Call Centers are capable of handling a high volume of calls and provide customer care assistance, while most in-house answering services can be specific and limited.
- Pricing; look for partners who can be transparent with the billing process. You’ll need to consider all the additional fees and activities that can carry hidden costs.
So when your business cannot carry additional personnel, or when the call volume is beyond your employees capabilities, a call center service can help you be available for your customers at all times.
All types of businesses employ in-house answerings services or call centers to handle their calls in a variety of ways. You can also work with a call center by acquiring seasonal support only during those times every year when the call volumen gets out of hand, and even outsource most of the customer’s journey to making a purchase and beyond.
This is why a call center can serve as a professional representative for your company, helping you maintain a high and professional customer satisfaction. After all, this customer support will be a key factor when people are selecting the business to buy from or work with.
So whether you need them to represent your brand or to help you get through a high volume call season, here are 5 tips on hiring a call center:
Tip # 1: Know what a call center is and how can it help your business
In the most basic way a call center answers the phone on behalf of your company. When your business gets an incoming call, it is forwarded to a call center where a trained agent responds using a detailed script or set of guidelines relevant to your product or service. The big difference between an in-house answering service is the training, volume and software the agents will have at their disposal.
The agent’s professionalism can make the customers feel more secure about engaging in a business transaction or purchase with you.
Core inbound call services include message taking, call forwarding, answering frequently asked questions, and even order taking and processing, but most call centers are capable of providing more than just these basic inbound services. They can also offer email and social media management, as well as live web chat services.
Call centers should be transparent and communicative, ensuring you have access to all caller information so you can follow up and get necessary feedback to set new goals and guide your business strategy, regardless of the services you need.
Most call centers are bilingual or multilingual, and these can help your business grow into an international clientele. When a multilingual service is unavailable, a call center might partner with a translation service.
Tip # 2: Know the difference between an answering service and call center service
Answering services can be conceived as smaller service providers to your business often working in fields that have specialized needs like legal services or medical related services. They often focus on specific industries and markets.
Call centers, on the other hand, tend to be more general in their approach and often have the capacity for managing large call volumes. Call centers are also more likely than answering services to provide outbound services, such as lead qualification and remarketing campaigns. Some call centers even engage in cold calling and lead generation services.
So, answering services and call centers are similar in many ways, but these two differ in important ways that make answering services more useful for certain businesses and call centers for others.
Many call centers have rebranded themselves as a contact center or “business process outsourcing” (BPO) companies to more accurately cover all the services provided, as more businesses have taken new approach to marketing and customer services, call centers have expanded their services to include new channels of communications with you customers like email, social media, live chat on websites and even SMS text messaging.
Tip # 3: Call Center Rates
Commonly in the call center industry the rates are based on the amount of time an agent spends handling your account. Most call centers charge per minute, but they sometimes associate your rate with a monthly minimum requirement, as others also offer “pay as you go” plans for businesses with a small call volume or that need seasonal coverage.
The rates a call center charges vary greatly from company to company. They often depend on several factors, including the services requested by the client, the expected call volume to be outsourced, the incremental billing policies of the call center and the time an agent works on your account.
To avoid surprises, request a breakdown of all pricing from any company you are considering before signing up for their services. Ask the representative to include any setup fees, monthly minimum fees and additional costs in any request-for-proposal (RFP) they send.
If you are unable to obtain or decipher an itemized list of costs, that’s a red flag the call center isn’t dealing with you in good faith. A business’s relationship with its call center must be based first and foremost upon trust; if you cannot establish trust in the discovery phase of your buying process, then it’s best to look elsewhere.
Tip # 4: Know if you need a call center
Any company in need of a customer service representative but without the internal resources to dedicate to the role can hire a call center.
Even if you have your phone lines covered internally, a contact center can still offer key support in other areas, such as outbound sales. A contact center can manage your email and social media channels, you could also work with a contact center to handle a live chat on your website.
Tip # 5: Is a call center an option for a start up business? In short, yes.
Many call centers offer services that startup businesses might find valuable. In addition to their core competencies, which helps take the burden of customer service off a new business limited staff, they support internal operations, such as recruiting and making hiring decisions.
Whether you need assistance answering incoming calls, help managing omnichannel communications or a boost to your marketing efforts, there are many good reasons for a small to midsize business to partner with a call center.
You should take your time and do your research, check all the companies you are considering. There are a lot of call centers out there, some charge exorbitant rates and have a lot of hidden fees, increasing your costs, others charge low rates but provide poor service, which could reflect on your brand, lowering customer satisfaction and ultimately the loss of your customers.
When choosing a call center, the most important factor should always be trust. A trusted partner is ke as the call center you choose will represent your brand directly to your customers. Only sign up with a call center when they have demonstrated they are transparent, considerate and honest with your company and your customers.