Call center services might seem similar, but the details of each company’s offerings can widely vary from one to another. Once you start asking specific questions about their services, the differences among them will become more apparent.
To help you find out which vendor is the right one for your business, here are a few questions to ask yourself and some features to look for in a call center service:
International vs. U.S. Based Call Centers
Where your call center service company headquarters and the agents are located, is one of the first things you should ask.
Offshore call centers are typically more cost-effective, they provide a wide variety of services and their agents are well trained and don’t usually have heavy accents that your customers might have a hard time understanding, which is a common misconception about offshore call centers.
US based call centers tend to offer more complete services, but their native English-speaking agents and software-centric models often mean their prices are higher.
For some companies, an offshore call center might be appropriate because they usually also provide the 24/7 service coverage which is a great advantage to globalized businesses.
Inbound and Outbound Services
You hire a call center service to answer customers’ questions about your brand and products or services.
Call centers provide information or technical support; they take orders and process payments over the phone. They can also dispatch calls to you when a customer needs to speak directly with someone inside the company, these are some of the many services that fall into the inbound services category.
Call centers can also offer outbound services, such as cold calling and surveys. Services can also include follow-ups with customers to ensure their satisfaction or to encourage a successful customer experience.
Call centers can also conduct feedback surveys or engage in customer win-back attempts.
Call centers were viewed as a ensuring way to preserve existing relationships, but when you consider all these additional functions, call centers actually broaden your customer base, forge new ones and bring in more money to your company.
Not all companies need both inbound and outbound services, you should consider your business requirements and when you know exactly what you need, ask your call center service which inbound and outbound services they can offer.
Dedicated or Shared Agents
Top call center services can offer both dedicated and shared agents to their customers.
Dedicated agents are assigned to your account only, giving your company their full time and attention. These types of agents are the best for businesses with specific, detailed needs that demand familiarity and consistency from their agents to provide a great service.
Companies with general needs could hire shared agents. These agents are used to handle multiple clients of the call center and they don’t necessarily answer your business’s calls all the time.
The shared agent services are often cheaper and can be effective for companies that don’t require specific attention in the day in and day out tasks.
There are some call center services that blend cost-effectiveness with specialized attention. The agents usually handle two or three accounts, instead of a full slate. They are not solely focused on your company, but their attention is less divided. Not many call centers have this option, but it could offer a great balance between cost and quality.
This call center will have direct interactions with your customers, meaning these interactions could have great influence over how your customers perceive your business.
Reports are necessary because they offer you a window into the day-to-day operations of the call center service you’ve hired.
Always keep in mind that not all reports are made to suit your needs, so search for a partner that can provide you the type of reports you need.
Some companies offer basic summaries of how many calls they made or received in a given period of time, while others will guarantee access to real-time data analytics and even record the audio of calls for quality review.
It is important to know how transparent the company is before you sign up with a call center service, and this can be reflected in the way they report and communicate with you.
Another important question to ask is the agent’s availability. Some call center services have 24/7 availability for your customers.
Other call centers even offer disaster recovery services, meaning they are able to take over completely if your own phone lines go down due to an emergency.
Selecting a service that is always available and is reliable should be a major focus for you when contracting a call center.
If your business has an international audience, you will want to partner with a call center that has agents that are fluent speakers of multiple languages.
Many call centers offer Spanish-speaking services, and others even offer a wide variety of languages which include French, German, Italy, and others.
If you need a multilingual service, be sure to ask upfront which languages or translation services the call center can provide for you. Ask if these services have an extra cost.
Ask these questions and keep in mind the different types of services you might need to avoid signing with someone who will not be able to deliver the services you need to enhance your productivity and provide your customers a great customer service.