What You Should Do Before Hiring a Call Center Service
By definition, a call center is a centralized office used for receiving or transmitting a large volume of inquiries by telephone. With changing times and evolving technology, not only do call centers to take on a whole new form but companies are more often interested in their services too.
Currently, the market size of the call center industry Worldwide measures nearly $340 billion, with a predicted rise of a further 46% by 2027, indicating a huge demand for this sort of service.
What’s interesting to know is that cloud-based call centers are becoming more popular now due to several reasons:
- They are 27% cheaper
- They have 35% less downtime compared to traditional phones
- They improve scalability and flexibility
Despite the perks and advantages of hiring a call center for your company, doing so also comes with a lot of risks. Here we will introduce you to some things to look out for before you decide to outsource this job. Although it can be a great tactic, there are some pitfalls to watch out for too.
First Things First
Check the tools that your potential call center provider uses
Knowing what your potential provider’s tactics and work are like will allow you to gain a better understanding of what you can expect in return.
Nowadays, there are tons of different call center tools that you should at least try to get acquainted with before choosing an agency, and you should find out what software they use. The development of technology allows for more features and solutions, both aimed at improving customer satisfaction and the comfort of agents. You can choose between a variety of options, including:
#1 Call recording
This is a highly important feature to have. One HubSpot survey shows that 69% of businesses rely on call recording to evaluate customer satisfaction and the quality of service provided. The list of its benefits goes on and on and we look at it from three angles.
First of all, call recording provides you with insights into agents’ interactions with your customers. In a situation where you don’t have control over the interactions that hired agents have with YOUR customers, recorded calls present a great opportunity to monitor and evaluate their performance. Secondly, you can gain insights into your customers’ queries.
Knowing the profile of your ideal customer allows you to prepare better for their needs. Lastly, when customers know their calls are being recorded, they get a sense of greater protection of their rights should things go wrong for some reason. Bear in mind various legal aspects too. For instance, call recording is highly restricted in some US states and as a business, you need callers’ permission to record calls before they even begin, which is called two-party consent.
With voicemail, you can create your own, personalized greetings or group voicemail messages. You can also listen to voicemails if customers call you outside of your business hours. A great addition to that is the possibility to listen to voicemails, as well as recorded calls from anywhere and anytime with cloud-based solutions.
#3 Call queuing
Calls are queued when all agents are busy at the same time and callers have to wait in line for the next available agent. This feature allows for the customization of call queues based on predefined rules. Such inbound calls are then directed to the most appropriate available agents within the right group or put on hold.
Having this feature is absolutely vital in terms of serving as many customers as possible. Without it, once customers find out that the line is busy, they may simply hang up. Not only can this damage your brand reputation, but also customer satisfaction. It might seem fundamental, but not every call center actually offers it. Do look for this feature as one of the essentials.
#4 Number porting
As a company seeking to hire a call center, this feature will allow you to avoid extra costs thanks to the possibility of using your existing phone numbers by porting them to the company’s software. A great way to save money.
#5 International numbers and toll-free numbers
This should be considered too, especially if you run an international company with clients based all around the World. Make sure the provider you pick allows for the acquisition of international numbers with both geographic and non-geographic codes. Even better if they can do so at standard local rates or even free of charge.
Nothing discourages customers more than having to pay for calling you, on top of already waiting and having to spend their precious time on it. Therefore, make their experience as affordable and comfortable as possible. They’ll thank you for it!
#6 Business hours and SMS messages
Make sure the provider you pick operates within your business hours. Decide when you will be available to receive calls and stick to those hours to maintain a well-organized workplace.
On the other hand, SMS gives you the chance to send your customers personal messages and notifications – when asking for feedback, for instance. According to Microsoft’s report, 90% of customers expect to be given the chance to provide feedback. This allows for more effective communication.
#7 Personalized greetings and music
Last but not least, do make sure the agency you choose has personalized greetings and music for when customers are waiting on hold. There is nothing worse than leaving your customers hanging with boring silence in the background, or not greeting them properly when they first get in touch with you. It’s all about manners, politeness, and etiquette!
Sounds like a lot to look out for? This is true and there’s even more, but don’t worry, A good example of a tool that offers all of the above, AND MUCH MORE, is CloudTalk. It provides users with World-leading call center features that meet and desire or demand you may have. This tool caters to the needs of companies like Mercedes-Benz, Fujitsu, Yves Rocher, Avocode, Karcher, and more. CloudTalk’s pricing plans are extremely affordable, and there’s a free trial available too. Pick between the Starter, Essential, or Expert (used by 70% of customers) plans and enjoy being able to satisfy your customers with a whole different level of call center experience.
The importance of reporting and analytics insights is well known. It is even more important when you put the fate of your success in someone else’s hands. Benjamin Franklin once said that “investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Before hiring a call center, you should look at how and when the agency/company that you pick will report on their work to you. Data analytics brings to you what’s not always visible to the eye.
Performance reporting promotes a continuous feedback loop that will give you the chance to evaluate an agency’s effectiveness and therefore your choice. Look for agencies/companies that offer regular reporting, since you don’t want to cooperate with a business that performs badly and only lets you know about it at the end of your contract.
Cost is often the key factor when it comes to making a final decision regarding any aspect of the business. One of those decisions could be picking the right call center provider. Many outsourced call centers have different pricing models: per minute, per account, per the features, you request, per customer, and many more.
Get familiar with what you are actually going to pay for and how much you will be charged for certain features before you fully commit to your choice. No one likes unpleasant surprises like hidden costs.
Customer Support More Complex Than Before
Another key thing to consider is the added layer of customer support. When hiring a call center, you basically put someone else between yourself and your customers. If you run a business that operates in a niche market, it may turn out that the agency won’t know your products or services, nor the type of customers that you attract.
Do some research and try to find out about your potential agency’s past and current clients. Read reviews and past clients’ experiences. Ensure the agency you choose will know how to serve your customers best.
You really want to make sure your customers receive the same quality of support and help they would receive from you. Interestingly enough, based on Microsoft’s report, 58% of customers consider good customer service as a very important factor that impacts their choice of brand. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of hiring a call center before fully committing.
How important is customer service in your choice of, or loyalty, to a brand?
You should be aware of the fact that hiring an external agency basically means giving access to your data to a third party. Firstly, make sure you’re actually allowed to do that. Second of all, really dedicate some time to researching your chosen agency. Don’t just pick the first one that pops up in search engine results. You really want to make sure that the sensitive data you’ll share with them will be in the right hands.
So Now You Know
Now you’re prepared to go on a hunt for your ideal call center company. With this list of aspects that you should pay attention to, you will be sure to make a great choice when picking a partner to meet your most sophisticated demands. In summary:
- Check what’s trending on the market and choose fancy tools to enhance your customer satisfaction, but make sure you only pick ones you actually need to avoid unnecessary expenses
- Check progress regularly
- Keep in mind the privacy of your customers as well as the costs involved with hiring a call center agency
With all of this in mind, you’re pretty much ready to go. Follow our blog for more useful insights into the call center industry.