A call center can benefit your business by increasing leads, improving conversions, and providing improved customer service. By using one your customers are more likely to buy after they have their questions answered or more likely to become loyal customers if their complaints are heard and addressed. In short, using a call center does almost everything you need to enhance customer communication and build customer rapport, from generating leads through telemarketing to assisting them with customer service issues.
Although you can outsource your need for a call center, in some cases, it might be more cost-effective and convenient to have your own call center, especially if you are doing a large volume of business and would like more control over the entire process. Over time, too, you can always find new ways to improve your call center by fine-tuning your hiring, selection, and training process, as well as by upgrading your technology as advanced hardware and software becomes available.
If you do decide to create your own call center, here are five guidelines you should consider:
1. Choosing The Right Call Center Software
The right software allows your agents to make more calls each day. Without it, using manual dialing, you will have a low call rate because your agents will waste most of their day leaving messages on answering machines, listening to unanswered calls, getting busy signals, discovering disconnected lines, or dealing with fax machines. Software like predictive dialer, an automated phone dialing system, will allow your agents to increase the number of live conversations they have each day because the software only connects them when real people answer the phone. It’s called a predictive dialer because the algorithms predict the average time it takes for a call to be answered as well as anticipates when agents will be available to take the call. On average, the software increases talk-time by 300%.
2. Hiring The Best Call Center Agents
When hiring a call center agent, it’s important to go beyond evaluating their previous experience working at a call center, their attitude, or their personality. While, these, of course, need to be considered you also have to determine if they have the right hard and soft skills to be successful on the job. Does the candidate have good working memory, work quickly, and pay attention to detail? Are they friendly, organized, and effective interpersonal communicators? Will they be flexible when it comes to switching assignments and schedules and remain calm under pressure?
3. Deciding On Your Standard Operating Procedures
It’s essential to develop clear policies on the following issues:
- Shift coverage.
- Flex time.
- Paid time off.
By understanding these basic administrative issues, as well as developing many other policies, employees, supervisors, and managers will have a clear idea on how to handle the many different scenarios that come up. If an employee wants to change shifts, they will know how to make requests. And if a manager aspires to maintain proper staffing levels, they will know what guidelines to follow.
4. Training Your Team
Although it can be difficult to schedule training and coaching time because agents will spend most of their time working the phones, it’s important that it gets done. Training should include customer service training, technical skill development, and refresher courses on confidentiality, security, and compliance issues. For best results, develop classroom style human resource training, support groups on how to handle difficult calls, on-the-job coaching, and software-based training.
5. Monitoring Your Team To Improve Performance
How do you know if performance is increasing, staying about the same, or decreasing? Subjective impressions aren’t enough. Your call center also needs metrics. You need metrics on averages; for instance, the average length of conversations, the average length callers were on hold, and the average length callers abandoned waiting for an agent. You also need metrics on how many sales were made or resolutions achieved.
Following these five guidelines will make it easier for you to convey your customer-centered vision to your call center agents. They will help you clearly articulate what you want to happen, and it will help you develop policies, procedures, and educational strategies to create the changes that you’d like to see.
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