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From the blog

Tips for Hiring an Inbound Call Center

When considering what kind of inbound call center your company should partner with remember that the companies who have clear goals of what they want to accomplish are the ones who have the most positive and profitable experiences.  Notice how I refer to the relationship between you and your business outsourcing center as a partnership.  “If you look at it like you are just hiring someone to cut your lawn then there are bound to be problems” says Michael Shapiro an outsourcing expert.  “These companies are often the first point of contact for your customers and you need to trust that they are going to do what they say.”

The first step is to analyze your needs and try to gauge the volume of calls the outsourced center will be handling for you.  Most commonly businesses hire inbound call centers for customer service and technical support.   When estimating call volume don’t forget that many calls centers have become contact centers where customers use email, instant messaging and online chat to get their customer service questions answered.   These options can be real money savers because they allow agents to chat with many users at the same time and answer emails during slow periods thereby allowing more service with fewer agents.  If you think this fits into your customer service model, make sure the contact centers you want to work with offer these services.

Get to know your call center.  Since your inbound call center is going to be  talking to your customers, look at how they treat you as a customer.  Think about your initial contact with the sales person selling the service.  Ask to talk to some of the agents and see if their company is someone who wants to grow with you or do they just want to cash your check every month.  If it’s possible,  visit the facilities and take a look around.  Are the employees treated with respect and given a nice work environment?  If the call center agents are located in a dark, wet basement somewhere do you think they are going to give your clients a positive experience.

All of these questions become even more vital when partnering with an offshore call center.  Offshore call centers are often a lot less expensive than those located in the United States.  It may not be convenient for you to visit but you can still ask for photos of the offices and find out if they employees are given benefits such as heath insurance.  And again, asking to talk with some agents should give you a good idea of how your customers will be treated.

For inbound customer service, it’s a good idea to decide if you want dedicated call center agents or shared agents.  Dedicated call center agents as the name implies, are agents who work only for your company and are bill a flat rate per month.  Dedicated agents offer many advantages in that they can be more deeply trained in your product and they will have a clear focus on your business.  These agents are also popular as virtual office assistants since they can get to know their clients personality and the corporate culture of that particular business.  In most businesses dedicated call center agents are the preferred method unless you don’t get enough inbound calls to justify the expense or if you are just looking for a short call coverage period, like only weekends.  As you might have guessed dedicated agents will be usually be more expensive but tend to produce more satisfied customers.

As with anything, the more knowledge you have going in and the more time you spend finding a call center that you can partner with, the better experience you and your customers will probably have.

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