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.