Categorized | Call Centers

Back Office 5.13. Call Centers

So, what exactly is a “call center”? Well, it depends on who’s doing the talking.

In its most general usage, a call center is any centralized office―outsourced or not―for inbound and outbound calls. Some firms use “call center” to specifically refer to inbound calls; many use it to describe outbound call facilities, such as telemarketing or telephone survey facilities.

So, technically speaking, every telephone service we have described so far really is a call center. There you go.

However, we distinguish a call center as a centralized business communications unit handling all manner of telephone communications tasks: reception, customer service, outbound calls, etc. A contact center is a call center that also handles faxes, email, live chat, and other forms of communication.

Here’s what a call center actually is: many years ago it became apparent to business operations professionals that it’s better to have as many incoming and outgoing calls routed through a single center than it is to route the calls to various places―customer service here, sales there, technical support over there, etc.. By centralizing inbound and outbound calls, businesses could significantly reduce the amount of time callers had to wait and increase the overall efficiency of the company, that is, spend less money making and answering calls. That’s what a call center is all about: reducing wait time and making operations efficient. And, as you might imagine, call centers are largely for big businesses with a high volume of calls.

From your perspective, you really do not need a call center like IBM needs a call center. However, if you anticipate heavy phone usage―both outbound and inbound―you may want to outsource a call center to save time, money, and customer aggravation (because of reduced wait times). You gain cost savings and reduced wait time for your customers by leveraging that call center’s operational efficiencies.

Because you hire a call center to handle large volumes of calls efficiently, there are several measurements you should look for in addition to the qualitative attributes we discussed for telephone receptionists:

  • Average wait time―one of the central justifications for hiring a call center is to reduce the amount of time a caller has to wait to speak to an operator, so this number, the Average Wait Time (AWT) is critical.
  • Average handling time―since the other justification for hiring a call center is reducing costs, you want to know how much time each operator spends talking to a customer and performing all the follow-up, called the Average Handling Time (AHT).
  • Total calls abandoned―these are the calls that customers give up on expressed as a percentage. You’ve had plenty of personal experience with this: you make a call to customer service, get put on hold, and, after listening to elevator music for what seems an eternity, you hang up. A high TCA is not good for your business.
  • Successful resolution percentages―a critical measurement of a call center’s capability (and this applies to customer service outsource vendors, as well) is the percentage of calls that get resolved. Your business loses money every time a customer calls to ask something, order something, or register a complaint. You lose even more money if that customer has to call back to get resolution on the same issue.

While these are legitimate metrics to ask of any communications service―telephone reception or customer service―they are critically important to call center operations which are designed to perform well on these metrics. You will want to know beforehand how well the call center performs across all these performance measurements. Once you hire a call center, you will want these performance metrics specific to your business reported on a fairly regular basis (ideally in relation to the center’s overall averages).

5.13.1. EasyCall, Call Center Solutions

A leading call center solution, Easy Call Center Solutions, which maintains a global network of small (seventy-five employees) call centers, provides the following services:

  • Call center
  • Product and service inquiries
  • Order taking
  • Sales leads
  • Help desk
  • Complaints
  • Telemarketing
  • Collections
  • Appointments and scheduling
  • Follow-up calling

5.13.2. Entel Call Center

Entel is the world’s leading Hispanic market call center providers with services in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Trained in the Hispanic market and primarily directed at the Latino customer, Entel offers

  • Customer service
  • Inbound and outbound sales
  • Help desk
  • Collections
  • Surveys
  • Appointment scheduling.
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