Call centers have become a major game player in the business world-acting as the impression maker and first point of contact for customers all around the world. However, the call center industry is a competitive mass of different products and services and it can be quite difficult to identify exactly WHAT kind of call center would be right for you. Each call center is going to have their own specific specialties and areas of excellence, but not every call center can meet your business’s needs or expectations.
There are two decisions that you have to make before deciding on what type of outsourcing your business needs. The first thing you must ask yourself is ‘What am I looking for in a call center?’ This can mean a plethora of things, but we are going to focus on two specific specialties; Inbound and outbound processing. Once you decide on wither you are looking for inbound our outbound processing, everything else will typically fall in line with that specialty.
Keep in mind that call centers are not strictly defined as ‘inbound’ or ‘outbound’. Instead of thinking of it as a call center label, think of it as a ratio. Some call centers may specialize in outbound processes, but have a small department dedicated to specific inbound processes. This same thing can happen for call centers specializing in inbound processes as well. A good majority of modern call centers are adaptable and carry the ability to change their processes based upon client needs.
A call center that specializes in outbound processes makes more calls than it receives. There are two main business functions that require outbound calls; telemarketing/telesales and market research. There are some minor differences between telemarketing and telesales, but the end goal is the same; to market a product to consumers in order to facilitate a sale. This can be done directly or indirectly through leads and other tools. Market research is the exact opposite- instead of sales the end goal is data.Market research involves calling consumers of a specific demographic and presenting them with a survey or poll. The data gathered is then recorded and is either processed at the call center itself or submitted directly to the outsourcing client. These are not the only business functions, but the two most common ones. Other outbound business functions include, but are not limited to, parcel collection notifications, appointment reminders, mystery shopping calls, product recalls and even registrations. Outbound call center are very target driven and are trained to overcome customer objections to close a deal.
A call center that specializes in inbound processes takes more calls than it makes. There are three major business functions that require inbound calls; order processing, customer service, and helpdesk provision. Agents that work for an inbound call center might be required to take incoming orders, process payments, and dispatch orders or assist customers with any post-sales queries or complaints. Helpdesk agents are usually trained to provide technical support or coordinate physical responses (such as sending out an electrician for a black out). Well established and efficient inbound centers typically service medical and emergency answering services- roles that require a standard response that meets both federal and state legal requirements. Just as with outbound centers, inbound business functions are not limited. Other services include answering services, appointment managements, hotline services, receptionist services and short-term direct response services. Inbound call centers have a more empathetic approach to consumers and focused more on their agent’s problem-solving skills and ability to reassure and calm customers.
The second thing you must ask yourself is what is most important; your budget or the quality of the services you receive. You would think this would be a no brainer, right? Not exactly, as some business get caught up in being frugal. Frugality, like productivity, isn’t just about being thrifty and saving tones of money- it’s about spending wisely on the right things so you have the money for things that are important to you. It’s easy to get caught up in just buying the cheapest, nicest-looking service available as long as your ‘saving money’ for your company. Unfortunately, buying cheap can lead to spending more down the line for damage control both on your reputation and your products. It is important to balance out functionality with cost. Once you decide on what your budget is and what you’re looking for in a call center it’s time to start shopping around.
- How long has your business been established?
- Which companies do you outsource for?
- Is most of your experience with B2B or B2C?
- Do you operate a physical or virtual call center?
- What is your average call volume?
- Do you offer any automated services? (such as fax management and voice response services)
I hope this article has provided some insight as well as a stepping stone for any businesses whom have never outsourced before. If you are considering outsources any of your business needs, keep everything talked about here in mind.