By Demet Dyanch: staff writer for Seawave Media and the call centre outsourcing service The Market Leaders.
The number of call centres over the years has increased. Many businesses have cottoned onto the fact that by distributing the workload through a process of delegation to a call centre, it allows the business to focus on its core business function, whatever that it.
Call Centres can be inhouse or outsourced. There has been a lot of hype around using foreign outsourced call centres, and there are many benefits to this, the main one being financial. However, more and more businesses, large and small are setting up their own call centres.
The obvious advantage to this is control. By having your own inhouse call center you are in a better, or lets say more direct position to keep a handle on what is going on and have a direct effect.
In this article, I’ll aim to cover the basic things to consider when setting up a call center.
One of the first things to decide is what type of call center will suit your business needs.
There are three types of call centres:
Inbound Call Centres: call centres that exclusively or predominately deal with inbound calls (calls initiated by the customer) e.g incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers.
Outbound Call Centres: a call center where telephone agents or telemarketers only make outgoing phone calls for a company or organization. Outbound call center agents are usually selling products and services or making appointments. E.G telemarketing, debt collection, market research, and petition of charitable or political donations.
Captive Call Centres: call centers that are set up by businesses to serve their own clients needs and not those of others. (Outsourcing is the opposite). These call centres can be inhouse.
It is possible to have a captive call center that deals with only inbound calls or a captive center that deals with only outbound calls, or a captive call center that deals with both. If you have a call center that deals with inbound call centers or outbound call centers that are not set up by a business to serve the needs of its own clients then it is an outsourced call center.
You get the picture.
When you have chosen the kind or sequence of call centers that suit you, before you get all technical it’s important to decide if you want the old school (but still very current and modern) office based call center (within your premises) or if you want (what is becoming more and more common) a virtual call centre.
An office based call center has its advantages as it’s easier to manage/train staff if they are located in one place. The down side of having an office based call center is that it is more costly as you need to factor in business/office overheads – rent space, utilities, office furniture etc. A standard office based center has: cubicles, computers, and the necessary computer software, telephone headsets and tech support.
A virtual office based system operates by call center agents working from home, thus, no office overheads for the company. The computer software would need to be factored in, head sets and tech support.
Whether the call centre is located on the office premises or is virtual, the equipment provided to staff should be of high quality for optimum comfort and productivity.
Headsets should be of high quality to reduce noise and be comfortable.
Since your call center agents will be using the keyboard throughout the day, in order to prevent injuries, like carpel tunnel syndrome (as a result of repetitive motions e.g typing) ergonomic keyboards should be supplied.
Chairs and tables are again something which could be easily overlooked. If your agents are comfortable, they are more likely to be able to work better. Work conditions are always extremely important and especially in professions that require the employee to be stationary for most of the day.
Now lets get to some nitty gritty and talk about the two essential pieces of software necessary to operate call center.
Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) This is a technology that basically does what it says. It is designed to link up the right person on the call with the most experienced /skilled agent to take that particular call. This advanced piece of technology has the ability to identify the location of the caller, what language the caller speaks, what time of day it is, and the nature of the issue to be discussed. Pretty impressive.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a part of the ACD technology that solicits the ACD by directing the call to the proper agent in the first place. Most of us have come into contact with this when, for example, we call a bank, receive an automated message to either dial, or through speaking, select a number from a selection offering different services.
The IVR links callers to a computer database and in this way provide callers with information that they are seeking. The information gathered is then stored in the computers database and can be kept as a record or as a tool for measuring success, sales, marketing etc.
So there you have it – a very basic guide to the essentials of how to go about setting up your own call center, whether that be office based or virtual…get cracking.
This article was written by Demet Dayanch of Seawave Media and the call centre outsourcing service The Market Leaders (www.themarketleaders.co.uk )