Connie Barrow, an Operations Director with Armchair Call Handling in the U.K. took time out of her busy schedule to allow us in. She writes about what occurs in a typical day within her job in Andover, Hampshire.
My name is Connie Barrow and I am the operations director at Armchair Call Handling. At Armchair, we are a contact centre that provides overflow reception services to thousands of businesses across the UK. Our offices are based in the UK in Andover, Hampshire.
I arrive in the office around 8:00 a.m. and put the kettle on, ready for a strong coffee. At this time the majority of our call centre staff haven’t yet started and the office is the quietest! The first item on the agenda is to catch up on emails that have come in overnight and get prepared for the day. In our contact centre we have around 50 staff in at one time which means it can get pretty busy. Now and then, a staff member will call in sick meaning it is my responsibility to find a replacement and ensure staffing levels are appropriate for the amount of calls we are expecting to receive that day.
After ensuring that the logistics of the call centre are accurate and everyone is ready and available to start answering calls, I move onto client liaison. As the Operations Director, I am often the point of contact for many of our larger clients. I specialise in customer services for the automotive industry meaning I’ve seen and heard just about everything when it comes to the automotive world! I check my emails and see there is a response from the dealer principal of a large motor dealership who I have been attempting to contact recently. He has requested a phone call so I give him a ring.
We discuss the possibility of running an outbound campaign on behalf of the dealership. They do not have the staff levels to actively call potential clients to book them in for MOT and servicing, and this is a speciality Armchair provides. We discuss his requirements from the campaign and I give him a detailed idea of what returns he can expect and reassure him of the professionalism and value of our service. In my role, it is really important to build a good relationship with our clients so that they trust our services. A receptionist is a vital role in any organisation and outsourcing it can be a big step; so I must always be approachable, helpful, honest and trustworthy. During the discussion, the client is keen to find out about the costs associated. As this is a large campaign, I need further input from our finance department in order to ensure I can agree on the best price possible for him.
On the opposite side of our open plan office, our finance department is situated and I brief them on the client’s requirements and request their input on a suitable pricing structure. After this is agreed, I then consult our marketing team who are able to create a formal and professional looking proposal that I can present back to the client.
After this is completed, it’s time for my second coffee of the day. I am called over by a member of our outbound team who is struggling to get to grips with a client CRM they are using for a customer survey campaign. We have a brief discussion and it is clear that the whole team could do with some further insight into the IT and software required for the campaign. I call a meeting and we head into a meeting room where it is a bit quieter. In the meeting I go over the CRM and the necessary actions. Staff have the opportunity to ask me any questions and by the end, they feel a lot more confident in making the calls.
By now, it is around lunchtime. In our contact centre, that’s the busiest period so it’s necessary to have all hands on deck. I help out our inbound team and log on to our IT system. I help answer the influx of calls, greeting callers, taking details and relaying messages to the most appropriate person or department. Every call is from a different company in a different industry, so the variety is great. It’s also nice to get involved with the core of our business now and then so I can stay up to date with any changes and developments.
In the afternoon, we receive a few more sales enquiries, so I help to set up the accounts and brief the staff of the nature of the calls we can expect and any other key details. Early afternoon, we have our weekly management meeting, where myself and other directors discuss the previous week. We evaluate any issues we’ve encountered and set targets for progression. It’s a good opportunity for us to catch up on each other’s tasks and plan ahead for the future of the company.
Towards the end of the day, I look at a report giving the figures for our inbound department. I am interested in the volume of calls we take, particular peaks in call times and the time it took for one of our receptionists to answer the phone. I match these against our expected targets. I also create a report for the outbound department to see the progress we’ve made and prioritise particular campaigns and calls for the following day.
Between all of this, I am still continuously checking my emails, answering calls and helping staff. As a busy business, it can sometimes get a bit manic! As the company primarily deal with telephone communication, I often find that our clients and their customers want answers immediately which now and then can be tricky. However, I really enjoy the variety of tasks I deal with and the huge range of people I get to interact with every day. I hold a lot of responsibility for the smooth and efficient running of the company, which means investing a lot of time and effort in getting to know the business, our clients and most importantly our staff.
About Connie Barrow:
Connie Barrie is the Operations Director at Armchair Call Handling in the U.K.and is based out of Andover, Hampshire.
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2016
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