Some people believe that establishing a call center is a difficult task, but it is not. Of course, this task necessitates extensive knowledge of your own systems, products, and services, and the number of calls you anticipate in a day. However, once you understand how to automate your systems using artificial intelligence, it becomes simple.
Using AI you can give your callers the option to avail answers to their questions by IVR. This in turn will reduce the number of calls that your agents have to attend every day because simpler queries can be answered by the interactive voice response. At the same time, artificial intelligence can be used to direct different types of calls to the relevant departments.
Let’s take a closer look at what a call center is and how to set one up so that it runs like a well-oiled machine. To ensure the smooth and seamless operation of your support center, some fundamental concepts must be understood.
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What is a support call center and why are they important?
A call center is a service that handles inbound and outbound calls by customer service representatives or sales representatives. It’s called a “call center” because traditional models contact customers via phone. Furthermore, they are widely regarded as the heart of customer service for a variety of businesses.
In many cases, a call center is the first point of contact for existing and target customers. Of course, nowadays most businesses offer their customers an e-commerce site, where they can place orders for the product or service. A lot of important information regarding the product or service is already mentioned on the website.
However, sometimes, the customers may need to talk to a human being in order to understand the answers to some of their queries or in case they are facing some difficulty with their purchase. This is where a call center is of great assistance and most businesses offer this service to their customers.
As mentioned, call centers can be the first contact between a customer and your employees. These support centers drive innovation and help in redefining customer experience. They also personalize the interaction with your customers across many different channels.
Not just your customer support team, but also your sales team will be able to provide quality service and premium support to customers, (whether it is an inbound or outbound call center).
The benefits of building a call center: Improved customer satisfaction, higher conversion rates, and more revenue
There are many benefits of building a call center for your company, especially if you have an online store. This is because some people are reluctant to buy stuff online because they don’t get good customer service afterward, and here is where a call center comes into the picture.
With a call center, you will be able to provide your customers with proper customer support after the purchase. In this case, if they have a phone number that they can call in case of an issue, then it greatly increases customer satisfaction and turns your customers into loyal ones. A call center will make the customers more confident in dealing with you and it will also attract new customers.
The other benefit of sales support call centers is that the rate of conversion of visitors to customers will increase. Where a person may not feel confident about the right purchase when they visit your online store, they can simply call your call center and discuss with a sales representative the product that they have in mind.
Proper technology used in the call center structure will ensure that the callers do not have to wait for a long time due to the queuing facility provided by advanced technology. This in turn helps in controlling the sales leads and prevents them from getting lost. Hence, it directly helps in increasing the sales volume and revenue earned by your company.
Different types of support centers: From customer service to product support
There are mainly three types of call centers providing both customer support and product support. These three types are inbound call centers, outbound call centers, and automated call centers (the latter use AI to a large extent). Now most of us may have come across customer support and product support call centers, at some time or the other.
Here you need to bear in mind that a customer support call center deals with consumers who are facing trouble or inconvenience associated with your products or services. This could be regarding issues with your product or service or complaints about overpayment or problems with the delivery system.
Customer support call centers
Customer support call centers usually provide B2C services by dealing with consumers who wish to connect with an actual person. These consumers believe and sometimes rightly so, that their query or complaint will be dealt with promptly by talking to a human rather than leaving an email or other methods of registering a complaint.
Product support call centers
Product support usually consists of the activities that are included in the general term of tech support. If yours is a product-centric company then it is advisable to set up a call center that will use product support in order to provide the best performance to the consumers and also to gain the maximum benefit for themselves.
In the case of product support call centers, the callers can be another company as in the case of a B2C transaction or even B2C. Consumers who need product support will accept help in many different formats – self-service with knowledge bases accessed with the help of artificial intelligence or direct interaction with the representatives through email, calls, or live chats.
The anatomy of a call center: Different components required to set up a call center
Understanding the components or in other words, the anatomy of a call center will help you to make informed decisions regarding its different components. Different organizations have different requirements and they should check for the key elements to be present. This is especially necessary if you are partnering with a third party for your call center requirements.
Many companies outsource call center creation and operation, but it is most of the time advisable to create one of your own. This is because if you own the call center then you will have better control and last word about how to prioritize customers, team members, and technology.
Setting up the framework: what are the key components of a call center and how do they work together
The chief components of a support center include the infrastructure and technology, skilled and well-trained representatives, monitoring and reporting, and the customer experience that you are able to provide.
Agents – The performance of your agents is one of the most critical elements of a call center because they are usually the face of your organization. For this purpose, you should have a streamlined hiring process, along with the ability to retain employees and reward the team members. This is why good call centers always aim at hiring good employees and retaining them.
Also make sure of providing the best work environment for your support agents, because call center work can be tedious and stressful, what with customers making the agents a target of their angst at times. This is the reason that you need to provide an infrastructure that gives the agents a comfortable feeling while working and they in turn provide the best of their ability.
Technology – In modern call centers, investment is made in state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology which ensures that the dealing of the customer calling the center is easy and the caller has a positive experience.
Designing the structure: How should the support center be designed from the ground up
No of agents – The main thing that you need to calculate is the number of employees that you should hire. The core purpose of the call center
Location and infrastructure – Your support center can be located in a place where the cost of real estate is affordable and it is close to the city. However, interaction with customers will be over the phone hence it is not necessary to be close to the customer base.
The workstations, telephones, and earphones should be of the best quality. They should be able to cut out unnecessary noise, to provide a good experience to the callers.
You need to also calculate the number of agents, team leaders, managers, etc. that you need to hire for your call center.
Apart from the current requirement you also need to figure out future growth and the requirements for this growth. You also need to take care of security risks including physical threats like fire, theft, and others. Then again there is also the threat of data stealing and you will have to keep security measures in place.
Then last but more important is the budget, and you will have to take the help of call center experts who will be able to design a complete call center for you within a realistic but affordable budget.
Marketing and advertising: How can a support center be marketed and advertised, and what are the key ingredients?
The best way to market and advertise your contact center is to publish the number on your website and any other physical literature you present to your clients, like brochures, letterheads, etc. If your customers do not mind receiving emails from you, then you can also send emails with information about the center and the numbers.
Financing and sustainability: How can a call center be financed and sustained over time, and what lessons have been learned in the past?
The main thing about financing a call center is that you need to ensure the amount of revenue it generates for you directly and indirectly. This is calculated by the number of new sales or upselling opportunities and also the retention of customers made possible by the call center. We have earlier discussed in detail the financial benefits of a support call center and this makes it a sustainable process.
In the past, many companies chose very young and sometimes immature people as agents because of their energy and enthusiasm and also the fact that they cost less. However, it is necessary to look for agents who also have a good level of mental and emotional maturity in order to provide the right empathy and support to the callers.
Diversifying your revenue: What other sources can you tap into to support your call center?
The best way to finance your call center is to make it generate more revenue. However, you can also tap into resources like the sales department profits in order to sustain your call center.
The money set aside for promotions and marketing can also be invested in call centers in such a way that the agents at the call center are educated and trained to excel in promoting your product or service. By upselling, call centers themselves will be able to generate enough revenue to be able to support themselves financially.
It is also a good idea to divert the call to a sales representative in case the customer is calling for a fresh purchase or looking for something to go with the product he or she has already bought.
Maintenance and operation of call centers: how should they be maintained and operated to ensure optimum performance?
The operational efficiency of a call center is the ratio of output generated from your business – revenue, cash, profit, – to the input – operating costs, time/effort, and employees. If you make your call centers efficient then you will be able to get more best revenue with minimum cost.
One of the main parameters that you need to measure is the amount of time spent by your agents on the calls as compared to the customer satisfaction that they generate.
This is a very important factor because it has a direct impact on the dealing of your customer support call center representatives with the customers, who will in turn spread positive word-of-mouth publicity if they have a positive experience.
In order to optimize the workflow of your call center you can take into account the following tips:
- Create an organizational chart – This will help in determining the distribution of responsibility along with the available tools and how the inquiries are assigned to different departments.
- Prioritize support – You can do this by deciding the method of answering the tickets, you can do it on a first-come, first-served basis or base it on a channel, task, and customer.
- Categorize inquiries – This can be done by separating the requests of customers by category and type, marketing development, IT, sales, and more
- Artificial intelligence-based self-service solutions – In some cases it is not at all necessary for the callers to talk to a human agent. Their queries can be easily handled by the Interactive voice response systems on the phone or with the help of chatbots on your website.
- Analyze data – By setting Key performance areas in order to track the performance and efficacy of your agents.
- Test different approaches – Keep a regular track of feedback from your call center employees, customers, and the management team in order to make your call center to become more efficient.
In fact, it is a good idea to recruit a team to take care of the call center management so that it can be handled in a seamless manner.
The challenges of building a support center: Limited resources and tight deadlines
As we have seen setting up a support call center requires quite a lot of resources, including cutting-edge technology, good infrastructure, and a sufficient number of call center agents among others. However, such resources may not be easily available because money in organizations is always short and it is the endeavor of the management to spend as little as they can on the setup and infrastructure of the call center.
Whether you are building a call center from scratch or simply relocating your employees, there is usually a limitation of timelines. The deadlines for these activities are usually less so that the call center can be set up in such a way as to start providing services to the customers in the shortest possible time frame.
Then again the nature of call center work is often repetitive and the customer support representatives also have to face the brunt of the customer angst which is not their fault. This in turn leads to attrition and the call centers have to spend a large amount of money and resources in order to retain their employees.
Conclusion: a call center is an excellent way to increase customer satisfaction and revenue. Proper planning and execution are essential to succeed.
This stands true for any business endeavor because call centers are meant to not only provide customers with answers to their queries but also ensure that their complaints are dealt with in an empathetic manner so that they remain loyal to your organization.
For this, you need to plan right from the beginning of the call center and ensure that your call center employees are always treated with empathy regarding the tough nature of their work. This will ensure that your call center will be successful in providing the right kind of support to your business and improve revenue by improving customer satisfaction.