The above video acts as an introduction to many themes that will be covered in more detail throughout this guide. Once complete you should have a good idea exactly how a call centre functions, the technology that makes a large number of calls possible and exactly how you can choose the right systems to offer an excellent level of service for your customers.
How a Call Centre Works
A call centre is a place where a company's business calls are made and received (both outgoing and incoming). Call centres are used most frequently for the purposes of providing customer support, customer service, market research and sales operations. With the range of mediums now covered call centres are sometimes referred to as contact centres.
Businesses of all kinds use call centres and, of course, as most people have experienced, many British companies outsource their call centre requirements to foreign countries like India and the Philippines.
Call centres are often housed in large offices with workers either making or receiving calls. The numbers of staff in a call centre can range from as few as ten to over 200.
Banks are an obvious and well-known user of call centres and employ them to deal with account holders' day to day requirements such as making payments, checking account balances and funds transfers.
These kinds of call centres focus on inbound calls, but equally call centres focus on outbound call operations as well, such as consumer survey companies or companies trying to sell products like life insurance or home improvements. Even utility companies, keen for customers to switch to their services, use call centres regularly.
Indeed, call centres are used by all kinds of companies and having the right telephone system is therefore vital for the smooth running of any call centre, no matter how small or large.
Finding the Best Call Centre Telephone System
A good call centre phone system should be able to blend a number of features into a single integrated system.
The first and perhaps most important of those is the ability to take inbound as well as outbound calls. A company should enable more than one way for its customers to make contact, this can be done via voicemail, fax, email and online with instant support and social medium channels.
Therefore most call centre systems these days are VoIP based, meaning that they use an internet connection for all these purposes. This can save a company a lot of money on call costs as most VoIP based telephone systems allow you to make free, or at least very cheap calls.
Furthermore, a good call centre telephone system can allow you to link more than one site together into a single call centre unit, which can simplify the logistics of running a call centre significantly.
Benefits of a Call Centre for Your Business
An efficient call centre above all allows organisations of any size to offer a high level of service to customers and potential clients. By having staff on hand to solve problems, answer questions and take payments, a call centre can have a huge impact on a business's overall level of success.
One way a well run call centre achieves this is by enabling companies to centralise their operations more effectively. Call centres can be concentrated in one or possibly two locations as opposed to many smaller offices in disparate settings. This makes things like office maintenance, staff training and the upgrading of equipment much easier to manage.
There are several advantages to using call centres. For larger businesses the ability to outsource operations to overseas territories, such as India or other Asian countries where labour is cheaper (and taking advantage of their timezones) means that significant streamlining can be achieved. This is covered further in the virtual call centre section below.
Call Centre Technology
The kind of call centre telephone system you use can greatly influence the experience your customers have with your company.
Most call centres will use an inbound system whereby calls are assigned to employees in the order in which they are received. For some smaller to medium sized companies, maintaining their own call centre can be expensive so many outsource their call managing requirements to independent call centres.
Some of these outsourced call centres manage the calls of several companies all at the same time. A fair percentage are in India and places like the Phillippines, but there are also a lot in the UK as well.
In fact, certain larger companies like Npower, for instance, like to use call centres in the North East of England. The reason being that they think customers feel more assured by the sound of a Northern accent as it's considered to sound more friendly and less officious.
Call Centre Phone System Providers
This is important because you want to make sure that you have the right system for your particular requirements.
There is, as you might imagine, lots of different kinds of call management software on the market. So much so that choosing the right one for your company can at times be confusing.
This is why comparing suppliers can prove very useful because it enables you to compare the features and capabilities of the various systems before deciding which one you want to use.
8x8 Call centre software simultaneously increase business productivity and enhance customer experience. Put simply, it is a win-win solution. The software is multi-channel compatible, allowing you to easily integrate telephone, email and web chat channels for a streamlined process. Innovative inbuilt smart routing matches the caller with the best agent for their needs, and advanced reporting and monitoring makes it easy to spot trends and monitor employee performance.
BT's contact centre solutions offer a number of key benefits including cost savings and helping to retain both staff and customers. By equipting your call centre with the latest technology your workforce will be able to carry out their everyday tasks a whole lot more efficiently, boosting morale leading to great levels of satisfaction all round. BT's call centre soltuions also allow you to manage calls more effectively regardless of the size of your team.
Cisco's call centre software can be custom managed depending on individual handsets/users and offers a number of advantages to improving a business's communications process. This data rich approach enables call centre's to run at optimum efficiency by establishing when customers should be contacted and the approach to take depending on different quires.
NFON's call centre phone systems solutions offer a number of benefits to organisations of all sizes. Specialising in both inbound and outbound call centres the main component is the quality of the phones each user has access to. These feature packed hand or headsets allow call centre employees to provide a level of service that is fitting of any type of business.
What is a Virtual Call Centre?A virtual call centre offers a business of any size a fully-featured IP phone system without representatives being located in one place. Phone calls can be directed to representatives across the globe, working from the comfort of their homes, without callers ever realising they’re being directed to employees in separate locations. Virtual call centres are used to provide customer service, technical support, event registrations, and other situations where operators are needed to handle phone lines. The solution can also be used for outgoing calls, allowing a company’s telemarketers and marketing representatives to work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Features of a Virtual Call CentreWhile virtual call centre solutions can vary from provider to provider, they generally offer advanced call centre features that can be managed through an internet portal. Each call centre agent connects to accept calls either through a PC or VoIP phone set.Features offered by virtual call centre software generally include:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) - This feature allows menus to be set up to direct calls to specific people or departments.
- Virtual Queuing - Gives callers the option to leave a number and receive a callback when an agent is available.
- CRM Integration - Connect call software to existing CRM solutions to automatically log data on each call that comes through.
- Management Tools - Supervisors are given access to monitor and control team activities, making it easier to manage employees located offsite.
- Call Recording - Each call can be recorded for quality control purposes.
- Historical Reporting - In call centre management, the ability to capture data on call volume trends is essential to future resource planning.
Virtual Call Centre BenefitsIn switching to a virtual call centre, businesses often weigh the benefits against a traditional phone system. A virtual call centre offers the following advantages:
- Lower Initial Cost - A traditional phone system generally requires a fairly large up-front capital investment, making it demanding on a business’s budget.
- More Flexible - A virtual call centre can adapt to company changes, allowing for updates as a company grows. If a new employee needs to be added, the business can often do so from the console. Traditional phone companies require a request for these changes that can take extra time.
- Remote Access - The ability to allow staff to work from anywhere gives businesses the opportunity find the best talent, regardless of location. Businesses also save money on office space.
- Reduced Operating Cost - Virtual call centre solutions usually charge a monthly per-user fee that is significantly cheaper than the per-line charges traditional phone providers bill.
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