Maintaining efficient and wholesome interactions with your customers is one of the most important aspects in maintaining healthy business operations. In today’s age of intense competition, customers have access to unlimited brands and offers. Maintaining customer loyalty is increasingly becoming a challenge.
One of the key aspects of driving customer satisfaction is establishing a proper forum and channel for communication. Small, medium and large businesses need to establish call-centers if they wish to survive in today’s competitive markets. It is the most efficient method for managing concerns regarding customer service and generation of potential leads.
Types of Call-centers
According to the needs of the business and nature of operation, call centers can be divided into 3 categories.
- Inbound Call-centers- These call centers handle all the communication that is generated from the consumer end. This can involve customer complaints, product or service related queries and other forms of customer support.
- Outbound Call-centers- Such call-centers are mainly concerned with lead-generation or follow-up. Here the communication is initiated from the business end and can include sales and marketing tactics.
- Blended Call-centers- Such call-centers house employees who have access to both making and receiving calls. Such blended forms of call-centers are an efficient way of achieving both the above results, but it requires well-trained individuals.
Some Key Things to keep in Mind
Establishing a call center software requires tracking and understanding the timings and durations of calls. Some of the key points that should be noted are mentioned below.
- Identify load-periods- Understanding when the amount of customer calls increase during the day or the week and identifying the overall pattern will help in planning the size and scope of the call-center.
- Pin-pointing bottlenecks- The existing processes of handling customer communications that being used must have bottlenecks. The processes via which lead is identified and acquired, and the ways customer queries are recorded can be susceptible to numerous flaws. If these are not identified, then such bottlenecks will be carried over to the systems used in the call-center.
- Root-cause analysis- What is main reason behind failure in lead conversion or inaccuracies creeping in during interactions with customer? The root cause of major issues such as brand abandonment, long-waiting time and failure in proper customer support must be identified. This will help in identifying the exact features and functionalities that would be present in the newly established call-centers.
Steps to establish a Call-center
The various steps involved in establishing a robust call-center are mentioned below.
- Identifying employee capacity and accommodating them- If the above mentioned points have been considered during the planning phase, then the business will have a clear idea regarding the objective and scope of the call-center. Once the total number of employees required for the call-center has been identified, proper facilities must be constructed which can cater to all the employees comfortably. This includes construction of office spaces, accounting for the number of hardware such as computers, network connections and office supplies and other HR requirements. The calculations made should also take into account plans for future growth and thus must be scalable.
- Deciding the location of the Call-center- Call-centers need not be located in the vicinity of the main offices of the company. Outsourcing is one of the most popular business trends that is particularly effective in managing call-centers. The linguistic skills and managerial talents that the company decides upon will govern the location of the call centers. Once appropriate country and city has been identified according to the business the considerations, the main things then involves making the offices of the call-center easily accessible. Most of the times, call-centers are placed in locations that are centrally located as this makes it easy for employees staying various locations to commute. Customers do not operate in shifts and can call anytime, ensuring ease of travel and accessibility is one of the most important things to ensure punctuality.
- Selecting the Right Technological Platforms- While there a lot of technological staples that a call-center needs, solely relying on the essentials will not make for a strong communication platform. The technology that is selected should be based upon the nature of the consumers and the kind of industry. For example, if most of the consumers of a particular product are more active on social media platforms then investing in excessive telephone based solutions doesn’t make sense. One should make a special note of the various CRM or customer relationship management platforms that are available today. Through the use of SaaS (Software-as-a-service), easy-to-use software platforms and dashboards are available which provide clear visibility and control over the various customer interactions and status of leads. Additionally businesses must identify if they wish to segment the calls and of so must pick the appropriate routing technologies.
- Track the entire consumer experience- While it is important to ensure productivity in daily activities, call-center executives must set aside a fixed period of time each day to track and monitor the entire journey that the consumer makes with the company while interacting or purchasing the product. Taking a step back and analyzing entire processes can reveal useful patterns which might further enhance productivity.
For example, executives might be able to identify the peak times for one particular language. It can then lead to better shift management by switching the relevant linguistically capable employees to that particular shift.
- Allocate proper funds and resources- Constructing and beginning the operations of a call-center from scratch takes about 6 months. While it is possible to squeeze the entire operation down to 3 months, it is not advisable to do so due to quality concerns. Allocating the right amount of capital and available resources is vital in the success of the call-center. It takes about 18 months to two years for the various processes within the newly established call-centers to regularize and achieve their full productivity.
- Allocate a single-point of contact- Companies must always appoint a single person who will be responsible for the smooth operations of the entire call-center. Ideally, an experienced employee is usually transferred to this role. The manager who is given this responsibility must be adequately skilled and must have decent years of experience. This manager will have one of the largest teams under them and as such must be able to handle the workload that comes with it.
- Hire effectively and train rigorously- The company must understand its needs and hire appropriate candidates accordingly. The hiring process must be wrapped up before the opening of the call-center. The hired employees also need to be trained for a fixed period of time in order to ensure that they fit into their various roles almost immediately.
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