According to Forbes Magazine, companies waste as much as 71% of potential leads. One of several main reasons for the failure: companies don’t respond fast enough – with one report finding an average return call of 46 hours and 53 minutes to a customer takes. In addition, the salesperson that makes that call only attempts 1.3 times before moving on. With an outsourced contact center, you can delegate the lead follow-up tasks to their operators, freeing up your salespeople to focus on those leads that are most likely to convert to customers. Or simply open a new sales channel, by allowing a outsourced contact center – whose employees often have extensive experience in lead conversion – to handle your lead contacts for you. An outsourced contact center offers significant benefits to your business, allowing you and your employees to focus on what helps your company grow. Employees are able to focus on important business functions without constant interruptions from ringing phones. However, many companies may not be aware that a U.S. BPO contact center (outsourced contact center) can also increase sales and provide you with a significant return on your investment.
Outsourced Contact Center Employee Costs
Business process outsourcing ( or “BPO,” often used synonymously with outsourced contact center) could eliminate the need to hire additional staff members, saving you money on salary and benefits. If you are operating a small business, you may not be in a financial position to add new staff and pay them a competitive wage. By choosing an outsourced contact center to handle routine receptionist duties, you can get a full-time employee for much less than it would cost to pay the salary and benefits of an additional staff member. For this reason alone, the ROI on an outsourced contact center should be a no-brainer.
The Reassurance of a Human Voice
An outsourced contact center allows customers to hear a human voice and not leave a voicemail when your employees are busy. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, the number of people using voice mail dropped by eight percent in 2012, and people who actually retrieve voice mail dropped by 14 percent. In fact, many customers say that when they reach a company voice mail, they simply hang up and call another company, rarely ever leaving a message. Customers want human interaction and an outsourced contact center provides that interaction. The customer hears a friendly voice who answers the phone using your company name. It provides the human touch that customers want, making them feel as if their call is important to your business. Therefore, U.S. based outsourced contact centers can lead to more sales and a better bottom line, further indicating the ROI on BPO.
Improve Inactive Selling. Re-Engage with Customers During Down Periods
Every industry has peaks and valleys in their sales. Retail stores often see very high sales volumes around the holidays while a tourist destination may see higher sales in the summer or winter months. During times when sales are slow, an outsourced contact center can be used to reach out to inactive leads or customers who have not purchased in some time. Rarely does a small business have the staff to handle this type of sales call, even during slow periods, as there are other duties necessary to keep the business operating. An outsourced contact center can provide this service for you at a relatively low cost.
ROI Is in Customer Satisfaction
One area where an outsourced call center can provide significant ROI is in determining customer satisfaction. A call center can be used for follow-up calls to customers who have recently purchased from you or to conduct market research for your next product or service. The outsourced contact center is able to identify specific problems that customers may have encountered, allowing you to adjust your practices so those problems are addressed.
New Product Release? Contact Engaged Prospects
Along with customer satisfaction, an outsourced contact center can do double duty as “press release” vehicle, in numerous ways: announce new products or services; announce a new release for an available new product, or create buzz for a new product that’s going to be released soon; a call center can “turn prospects into customers” by contacting engaged prospects who didn’t convert the first time, and cross-selling them or informing them of availability for a free promotion, and any variety of services. Granted, email or website account space is usually used for these kinds of announcements, but depending on the price of the product (could be a B2B technology solution that costs $25K, but pays for itself in 18 months). Most of us have been cross-sold … you call your internet provider for spotty reception, and end up with a lightening speed new router for no additional cost (until the promotion is over!). Nevertheless, brand awareness and reputation are priceless, so successful companies do anything they can to maximize personal engagement – leading to sales opportunities.
Customer Retention – the True ROI on Outsourced Contact Centers
Even the most conscientious company in the world makes mistakes. When a problem occurs, how the company handles those errors can be the difference between losing a valued customer or retaining them. What many businesses don’t know is that call centers often have teams that are specially trained to work with disgruntled customers. They work directly with a customer who has filed a complaint or posted dissatisfaction on social media in order to resolve the problem in a mutually beneficial way. This can help you retain customers even when a mistake happens, another example of ROI with contact centers.
Native Language Improves Customer Satisfaction
For many years, call centers were located in distant lands, such as India and the Philippines. Customers expressed displeasure when they called a customer service line and were required to speak to someone for whom English was a second language. The language barrier often led to misunderstandings and a customer who was even angrier than when they initially called. For this reason, many companies are moving their customer service back to the United States – some of them re-establishing unequivocal positive results from bringing their offshore operations into U.S. based outsourced contact centers. In Michigan alone, at least six call centers were opened in only 13 months, and that number is still growing. This has led to anew standard for call centers where customers speak to someone whose native language is English and has provided significant ROI for companies who are seeing how United States-based outsourced contact centers create happier customers.
Outsourced Contact Centers in the U.S.
Whether your company is large or small, an outsourced contact center offers an excellent ROI as it creates more customer satisfaction and can actually help you turn leads into conversions. In addition, outsourced contact centers centers can assist you with customers who may have experienced problems and even help you learn what customers want from your company. A U.S.-based call center offers you optimized scripts, no time or language barriers and an immediate feedback loop. Do the research and the math and decide if you need to learn more about a U.S. based outsourced contact center might boost your ROI.
Publish Date: January 11, 2016 5:00 AM
When analyzing call center productivity – or researching call centers at all – it’s always tempting to make “call center” and “cost center” black and white terms. After all, aren’t there only two options in business … make money or lose money? Well, notwithstanding non-profits or human services (happy to break even), those two directions are pretty cut and dried. Problem is: presuming a call center is an island unto itself deforms the question in the first place. Business operations involve a dozen departments, and each of those is usually a moving target. So, “do I want a call center or a cost center” is not the right question. (Spoiler: You’ll find out here that there’s such a thing as Cost Center ROI.)
Who’s Your Customer?
One suggestion would be to begin with the customer and end with the business. You’re making decisions that will have long-term revenue, brand, and reputation imprints. Pretending there’s no “white space” between your revenue and your call operations would be an MBA 101 mistake of dramatic proportions. How many companies have brought back control of their contact centers to the United States? Although Citi, Neiman Marcus and Nationstar Mortgage are among the larger notable companies that have moved back to the U.S., it’s widely known that Dell and Intuit (technology), Merrill Lynch and HSBC (financial), and Delta and United (airlines) have moved back – but not “officially” and for all time, as these companies might reverse course or do some offshore later.
Whatever the case, an unhappy customer is not a good place to look for repeat business. FI Group concluded that customer support agents that can be understood clearly were able to resolve 88 percent of their problem calls. When customers report that the agent was difficult to understand, the calls are only resolved 45 percent of the time. In those conditions, it would be hard to prove that you’re “putting the customer first,” let alone having any effect on cost center ROI. Plus – and just as bad for the business – the costs of unresolved problems and angry customers offset savings in salaries. The most complex calls (also known as “contextually sensitive” calls) require a comprehensive understanding of language and cultural awareness. So, as always, cost center ROI (or any ROI) comes back knowing your customer.
The Bad Reputation of the “Cost Center”
Every business operating to make money, whether for profit or not, that is using a contact center, or considering one, for inbound customer calls should not be thinking, “call center or cost center.” Why? Cost center ROI doesn’t have an impact on profits, right? Maybe. At first, your tendency might be to agree; there’s no cost center ROI because a cost center cannot generate revenues. In the traditional, “old school” sense, you’d be right. But try getting rid of your HR department and see if that affects your ability to generate profit. Most company’s cost center ROI does not have a “direct” impact on big sales.
With this line of thinking, it’s hard to make a case for the reality of cost center ROI in lean times, but where would you go without public relations, R&D, customer service, and investments in new equipment? That’s not how smart organizations work. We’re talking about generating revenue, seeing ROI, not leaving money on the table. Choosing to operate a call center or accept it as a cost center is essentially the difference between choosing more avenues of business income or merely maintaining a center with predictable costs where managers are rewarded for “underfunding” their units. That’s enough to make any CEO light-headed; “you mean I have to lose money to make money?!?” That pushes against many “academic-based” basic strategies learned about growing and maintaining healthy businesses.
Business Process Outsourcing
Once a business has committed to making their call center a means of revenue and not a costly “necessary evil,” the next decision revolves around the logistics of doing so. Outsourcing to companies with skills that are matched and specialized to a business’s objective can be a significant first step toward success. Call center or cost center start-ups and changes require smart BPO, which must include carefully analyzing the cost savings of U.S. call centers. Business executives owe it to themselves to closely examine the benefits of these savings as they directly relate to increasing ROI – using SMB specialized call center outsource companies who pride their centers on productivity.
Cost savings of U.S. call centers? That’s right — savings and U.S. in the same sentence. The trend in recent years of outsourcing call centers or cost centers to offshore companies has unearthed a fair share of challenges. A much deeper examination of real costs is in order. Superficial monetary figures may seem favorable at first, but those savings will dwindle quickly if said challenges exist. How can a call center be effective at performing tasks that increase ROI if they are unable to establish a satisfactory service transaction for the item the customer called in about in the first place? They cannot.
Cost Center ROI: Digging Deeper
Outsourcing to U.S. companies for the management of your call center means fewer barriers between your business, your customer, potential sales and retention. Keeping call center outsourcing with a U.S. based company can thwart many of the chief complaints that people have about customer service call centers, one of those being language confines. Is it a gross error in judgment to assume that because a person can speak the English language that they have full command over comprehension, which often impedes rationale when dealing with complex customer service issues. Thick accents can be trying for some customers, especially those who are elderly or slightly hard of hearing. Add these things together and often customers feel as though their experience is like fuel being added to an already frustrating situation rather than relating it to a simple phone call that turned a problem into a satisfactory solution.
Sometimes there is no satisfactory solution. Tight reins on offshore outsource companies often equates to limitations on the ability to make decisions, adjustments, corrections or even above the call of duty type customer service extensions. These obstacles account for a company’s inability to monitor a contractor’s daily activity or security practices. U.S. based call center outsourcing keeps the extension of business operations within easy travel distance. It also avoids language barriers and keeps this critical aspect of customer relations close to home for regular inspection, monitoring, training, and security. In short, a business can entrust a call center with critical parts of the business without feeling as though they have compromised control. The Wall Street Journal published an article in 2008, which addresses many concerns of both offshore and outsourcing in general. This article is especially helpful in determining where the land mines might be hiding with any types of outsourcing and will encourage clear and concise communication when choosing the right company to handle the job.
Home Is Where Customer Service Is
Customer service standards in the U.S. have stringent expectations among consumers, especially those living in the U.S. Naturally, outsourcing of call center activities are well suited to U.S. based and staffed companies. In addition to adhering to higher worldwide standards for service, U.S. based companies are also proponents of continued education and training. High-quality standards for equipment and communications services, fast turnaround times for issues that need to be resolved and abiding by U.S. business and employment laws are just a few more reasons to entrust your business with a U.S based call center. These facets of business become critical when assessing the bottom line. Keep in mind, whether a call center is an outsourced third party or not, your business name is being represented to the customers calling for service. Employees of the outsourced company will also somehow associate their overall daily working environment and experience as being tied to the values of the contracting company.
Cost Center ROI. Call Center ROI.
As a savvy businessperson, you’ve already decided. If your inbound call system is structured in such a way that little or no revenue is being generated, or it’s organized to do so but is not successful because customer service is failing, and clients are unsatisfied, you’ve likely identified the need to do something differently.
Establishing a call center using a reputable U.S. based outsource company can positively change both of those scenarios. Every business does something to make money and that service or product offered should resonate with every precious customer contact opportunity. Increase ROI by maximizing these opportunities with better service, better sales, more referrals and stronger customer retention. Entrepreneur Magazine published this fantastic article that overviews some of the innovative means by which companies are being served by outsourced organizations. This type of ingenuity makes it an excellent time to tailor a more productive call center for your business – and not to think of cost center ROI as something separate from any element of successful sales.
Call centers can and should be designed to generate more ROI than web leads alone, by way of bridging the needs and desires of customers with the niche of the business. Whether you name it a call center or a cost center becomes less interesting when realistic objectives are met within your corporate ecosystem – “productivity” and “customer satisfaction” become the metrics of call center success.
Publish Date: December 21, 2015 5:00 AM
For many people, buying “made in America” products is a top priority. For many businesses, the fact that their products are made in America is a major selling point. Now that so much manufacturing has been moved overseas, though, does buying American still matter? After all, many products that are technically assembled here in the U.S. are made of components that originate around the world. Further complicating matters is the fact that there’s no surefire way to determine whether or not something was really made in America or not. With these points in mind, what does buying “Made in America” products even mean anymore?
Defining “Made in America”
The altruistic among U.S. may assume that any time a product is labeled as being “made in America,” it must have been built here. Sadly, that’s often not the case. Sometimes, its parts come from overseas, but final assembly occurs on our shores. Other times, the entire process and all parts originate here. All too often, however, products that are almost entirely–or entirely–made overseas bare “Made in the U.S.A.” labels too. The motivation for this deception is clear: profit. According to a Consumer Reports survey, eight out of 10 Americans prefer buying American-made products, and around 60 percent are willing to pay up to 10 percent more for the privilege.
Of the many labels you’re apt to run across regarding the origins of a product “made in America,” the following are the most common:
- Made in America – Per FTC guidelines, this label can legitimately be used by products that are manufactured in North America. Therefore, they may have been made in Mexico or Canada too.
- Made in the U.S.A. – Technically, only products made completely and solely in the United States may bare this label. There’s a catch, naturally: U.S. territories count as “Made in the U.S.A.” too, so Americans living on actual American soil may not have built such products.
- Assembled in the U.S.A. or America – As implied by the term “assembled,” these products are typically made up of components that originate overseas, but final assembly happens somewhere in the United States.
- Flag Symbol – This is probably the most misleading label of them all. The FTC has no official guidelines deterring companies from slapping American flag labels on their products. Consumers see the flag and often assume a product was completely made in America. Many times, however, the product wasn’t built here at all, and none of its components were, either.
FTC Standards: What Classifies as a “Made in America” Product?
Due to the confusion regarding which products are legitimately made completely in the U.S. and which are merely labeled as such to boost sales, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, established standards regarding which products are allowed to bare “Made in America” or “Made in the U.S.A.” labels. The FTC requires all or almost all of a product to have been made in the U.S. for it to bare the label. Only a negligible amount, if any, of foreign components are allowed, and final assembly must take place in America.
Unfortunately, the FTC isn’t set up to actively enforce these guidelines. They typically only investigate matters that are brought to their attention. Not surprisingly, competitors often tattle on each other for using such designations. Therefore, you can’t safely assume that products with Made in America labels were actually made here.
Country of Origin Marks
When in doubt, look for the country of origin mark on a product to tell if it’s made in the U.S.A. or not. The mark is required by U.S. Customs for all imported goods, and it’s typically found on a very obvious. part of a product. For example, in a refrigerator, you might find it inside the door.
Why Buy American?
People prefer buying American for many reasons. If you weigh the pros and cons of buying American, you’re apt to adopt the same policy yourself. After all, there are very few disadvantages to doing so. In fact, the one that’s trotted out all the time–that American-made products cost way more–is becoming increasingly less true. Besides, as evidenced by the Consumer Reports survey, many people will gladly pay more to buy American.
Of the many reasons people give for preferring to buy American, the most popular include:
- Supporting Workers and the American Economy – When products are made overseas, jobs go overseas too. By purchasing American-made products, you may help keep jobs in America or even bring more here.
- Quality – American companies often adhere to far more rigorous. quality control protocols than companies in other countries. Safety issues may come into play with some products too, prompting many to seek out American-made goods.
- Work Conditions – Even if someone is unfazed about buying goods made by foreign workers, the fact that such products have been made by children or in sweatshops may prompt them to seek out American-made wares.
Reshoring – The Resurgence of American-Made Goods
Now that the recession is well behind U.S., many U.S. companies and top brands are reshoring, which means bringing manufacturing back to U.S. soil. For example, Apple made waves with its announcement that the Mac Pro will be built in Austin, Texas, instead of Shenzhen, China. Walmart recently announced plans to boost spending with American suppliers by $50 billion over the next 10 years. According to the Department of Commerce, manufacturing output in the U.S. increased by about 45 percent between 2009 and the end of 2014. The Reshoring Initiative, which seeks to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., has successfully gotten more than 300 companies to do so since 2010.
Does it Matter?
In today’s increasingly global economy, does buying American even matter? Most would agree that it does for the reasons listed previously and many others. With that being said, though, be a savvy consumer. Don’t blindly purchase products just because they claim to have been made in the U.S.A.. If buying American matters to you, do your due diligence. Identify companies that legitimately design and manufacture their products here, and then give them your business. At the same time, remember that it often simply isn’t possible to find a particular product that’s only been built here in America.
Publish Date: December 14, 2015 5:00 AM
Until recently, “Job Boom in Oakland” would not be phrase you’d hear often. No news of bustling business, new enterprise headquarters, and job growth. So, when CallSocket owner, Tom Henderson, announced that he’d create 2,000 jobs in his Oakland call center by 2016, the news piqued a few ears in Silicon Valley. Three years later, CallSocket has grown to 200 employees, and continues to grow as it brings on clients like Jacuzzi, University of Phoenix, Deutsche Bank, and Leidos Engineering.
“When we launched CallSocket in Oakland, business analysts were intrigued,” said Chief Revenue Officer, Costin Miclea. “Oakland’s call center heyday was many years ago. Some don’t remember that Oakland was headquarters to Wells Fargo, Clorox, Providian Bancorp, and BofA. Tom’s an Oakland native, so he saw low costs in square footage as an opportunity to invest in his hometown.” Henderson recruited top talent in the contact center industry, and provided the resources needed to fund infrastructure and operations. Now at capacity in the iconic Tribune Tower, CallSocket’s client demand has stoked expansion into more real estate to keep up with this incredible job boom in Oakland.
Of course, business process outsourcing (BPO) isn’t new, but call centers are known for difficult operations and tight margins. Everyone remembers the call center exodus to offshore, low-wage countries like India, the Philippines, and Argentina.
But unhappy customers can change things quickly. Big brands suffered. ROI started a downward slope, as customers wanted to talk to agents they could understand and who could resolve concerns quickly. Call centers started coming back to the U.S.
The back-to-America development worked for a call center like CallSocket, where Oakland residents jumped at the chance to be trained and mentored in a city exploring ways to boost commerce and employment. For some, CallSocket is a “second chance,” as not all of its new hires have bachelor’s degrees or well-established work histories. Neighbors like Pandora, Ask.com, and Tribune Tavern, certainly prove that “job boom in Oakland” is a phrase we’ll start hearing more often.
As for job boom in Oakland, Henderson says, “We feel fortunate to take on such a unique challenge. CallSocket presents a chance to create many winners.”
Publish Date: December 1, 2015 5:00 AM
Call Center work can be very difficult and keeping agents motivated and empowered is an uphill battle, but there are a few psychological theories that can help build an environment that nurtures agents and benefits customers. These 5 Psychology theories that can improve your call center
A way of establishing a positive mindset before carrying out an action, priming allows an agent to change the focus from their needs to how they want the customer to feel about the interaction, which puts the focus on how they can help the customer best.
Whereas most call centers focus on strict rules and scripts that control everything an agent does, those in a more autonomous environment, one that gives them the authority to solve problems and give them control of the call from beginning to end, feel more responsibility for the experience of their customers and show more workplace satisfaction.
Dunning Kruger Effect
This theory says the less skill a person has, the more they will overestimate their ability. This manifests when agents think that their skill level is the highest they can go and never push themselves to improve their skills. Creating an environment where learning is rewarded and the benefits of improvement are seen makes agents who are always looking for ways to improve their own performance.
Directed Attention Fatigue
A call center agent’s main focus is the call, but with all of the different things they need to do for that call, their focus is taxed. This can cause the brain to become exhausted. While rest is the only way to alleviate this exhaustion, break rooms and zen rooms can help counteract the effects.
The repetition of call center work is probably the biggest problem in a call center as the agent’s brain looks for patterns in a call. Once a pattern is seen, they tend to stop listening to the customer which can cause problems. Priming the agents can help combat this tendency and improve customer relations.
Publish Date: November 20, 2015 5:00 AM
Cities with high job demand should be at the top of your list of concerns with you’re looking to relocate, whether for climate or geographical reasons, or for the ability to provide a more secure future for you and your family. In determining cities with high job demand in America, we defer to the experts, who continually follow trends in American cities that have low unemployment and more job demand than other cities in America.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bethesda area had a 3.8 percent unemployment rate in April 2015, compared to the national rate of 5.4 percent. The high job demand in many different industries has made Bethesda one of the top cities for relocation in the country. Industries that are growing in the Bethesda area include healthcare, hospitality, specialty trade contractors, accounting, and food service. In addition, Maryland is ranked first in the nation for schools, another factor that encourages people to relocate to an area.
Austin, Texas is another city showing high job. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in Austin is $53,946, slightly higher than the median income throughout the country, which is $51,939. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate in Austin is just 3 percent, far below the national average. Like Bethesda, healthcare is a growing industry in Austin, but the technology industry is not far behind with more tech companies relocating to the area. The low unemployment rate combined with a higher than average median income makes Austin one of the top American cities with the high job demand.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports almost three percent growth in the population of Jacksonville. Much of this is due to relocation of job seekers who have found high job demand in the area. Jacksonville’s unemployment rate is just over five percent, slightly higher than in the other cities, but the addition of several new companies and the location of national headquarters in the area are helping jobs grow in the finance and manufacturing area. In addition, the IT market has shown considerable growth in Jacksonville.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
For those looking for a more secure future, Grand Rapids, Michigan offers a 3.3 percent unemployment rate, significantly lower than the national rate. There is a diversity of businesses in the area as well as a relatively low cost of living, which makes it an excellent location for job growth. In addition, the Grand Rapids area has a high-quality education area making it even more attractive to businesses, which can lead to high job demand.
Columbus, Ohio has an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, significantly lower than the national average. Columbus has emerged as a technology sophisticated city and is home to the world’s largest private research foundation. In addition, several institutes of higher learning in the area encourage the high job demand as well. It ranks 30th on the Forbes Magazine list of best places for business and careers. The median income in the area is $54,434, higher than the national average.
One of the reasons that Seattle is on the list of American cities with better employment opportunities is their low unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. Seattle is listed ninth on Forbes Magazine’s list of best places for business and careers – with a median income of $70,727. The city nickname, “The Emerald City,” is in reference to the lush green forests in the area, but that nickname is quickly being replaced with “Jet City,” due to the influence of Boeing, one of the largest employers in the area. However, the city also has a growing tourism industry, as it is the major gateway for Asian and Alaskan cruises.
Cities with High Job Demand, Low Unemployment
These are some cities with high job demand and unemployment rates that are lower than the majority of other cities in the country. For those who are not opposed to relocation, these cities offer better opportunities and more chances for advancement than in other areas of the country. With lower unemployment and the ability to create a more secure future for your family, it is worth investigating possible positions in one of these areas of the United States.
Publish Date: November 6, 2015 5:00 AM
Running a call center is an exercise in providing customer satisfaction with every call. That means that the customer’s experience needs to be managed to give them what they want when they want it. Yet, customer experience management can sometimes be lost in the flood of calls that come into a a contact center. That’s why, it’s a good idea to make sure your employees know how to set up best practices to meet exceptional customer service standards every time.
Best Practices for Customer Experience
It’s not hard to do, but it does take a little forethought. Here are ways that you can create the best experience for your incoming callers without making a huge effort. These 8 simple practices can keep your operations flowing smoothly and your customers happy. Here are the best practices for customer experience management today:
1. Manage Expectations
A customer should know he wait time to get their call answered and who they need to call to get their issue resolved. Representatives need to manage expectations promptly so that the customer does not feel they have being promised one thing and offered another.
2. Adopt State-of-the-Art Technology
No one is going to spend hours on a website with tons of glitches, no matter how badly they want to talk to a representative. The same is true of extensive phone trees that need to be navigated. It should be easy to log an issue and shouldn’t require them to hang in there until the Apocalypse happens on their screen.
3. Hire Knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives
Your employees should be knowledgeable in the areas that they serve and know where to direct people when they aren’t the experts for that issue. This will help them to always provide the solution for a customer, even when they don’t have it themselves.
4. Keep Track of Calls
In order to handle issues that may be escalated, you must have a good way to track incoming calls and the issue that is being addressed. If it needs to be escalated to a different representative, that person can just open the log and read the issue without making the caller repeat themselves endlessly.
5. Get Contact Information Promptly
Dropped calls and bad information can lead to irate customers. Make sure your call representatives are keeping the contact information updated for each issue, in case a call is dropped or it needs to go to another department for a response.
6. Be Pleasant and Courteous
It goes without saying that your manner of greeting a customer can impact the entire tone of the call. Be as pleasant and as courteous as possible. Remember that a lot of times people call with a problem and may already be stressed, so don’t add to it.
7. Provide Solutions
A customer may not know what they need, only that they have a problem that needs a resolution. They are calling you, the expert, to help get information they may not have. Don’t just focus on what they ask, also provide alternative solutions that they may not know exist.
8. Collect Feedback on Calls
You may need to collect feedback using a rating system about calls or interactions customers had with your representatives by using an email survey. Or, you can simply listen in on a few calls every day to make sure they are up to standard. This will help you weed out trouble spots and devise training in specific areas that need more attention.
Publish Date: October 10, 2015 5:00 AM
Choosing a call center can be difficult for any business owner, but if you’ve never used one before, then you may not even know where to begin. On the surface, all customer service centers may appear the same, and any of your options will meet a bare minimum standard of speaking English and answering the phone. It’s important, however, to look beyond the minimum at a number of additional factors before making a firm decision.
The first choice to be made is one of location. Locations outside of the United States can be cheaper, but the lower price does require some sacrifices in quality and, more importantly, customer satisfaction. 78% of American customers have an unfavorable opinion of overseas call centers. There are two major reasons for this, with the first being the language barrier. An overseas call operator will be able to speak English, but their accent is likely to be thick, which will make it more difficult for customers to engage with the operator effectively, dragging out the duration of the call and leading directly to a loss of efficiency. Once the customer determines that there is a language issue, the second reason for their disdain comes into play: American customers don’t like dealing with call center operators who they perceive as not knowing or caring about the product or service. If your product is American, then your American customers will expect to deal with a customer contact center within the United States.
Once you have chosen the location of your center, you should consider whether an on ground or cloud based contact center is right for you. An on ground center will likely cost a bit more, as there is overhead involved. You will also need to have a relatively consistent call volume, as the agents at an on ground center will likely be full time employees. If your business volume fluctuates, then a cloud based service is likely better for your business, as these agents will only be paid when there are calls to be answered, lowering your contract cost. A final consideration here is cloud security. If your call data is particularly sensitive and you have concerns about cloud storage and transmission security, then an on ground center is for you.
If a center has a good location and service type for your business, there are still other factors to consider. The center should not only have security mechanisms in place to protect your data. They should also have systems in place to protect the consistency of their service, and by extension the access to that service by your customers, in the case of a disaster or outage. This is more critical to some businesses than others, especially those involved in credit and financial services, but any business will suffer if its customers cannot achieve easy access to customer service. Once you’ve determined outage preparedness, you should also take a look at the technologies available to the center that will allow more detailed analysis of the calls made, services rendered, and impact on sales and profitability. A center with a higher level of technology is almost certain to increase your retention rates and boost sales. Finally, it’s important to determine which other businesses are using a particular service and what those businesses are saying about it. When choosing a call center that’s right for your business, you can never be too careful, and you certainly cannot ask too many questions.
Publish Date: September 21, 2015 5:00 AM