A Call Center Buyer's Guide
Is the potentially peaceful environment of your office interrupted by phones that are constantly ringing? Are your employees overextended from handling a high volume of incoming sales and service calls? Would you like a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage your inbound calls?
If so, an inbound calling center might be just the solution you are looking for. These call centers employ experts to handle your sales and service calls for you while leaving your office free to focus on other aspects of growing your business. With their years of experience, specialized equipment, and goals of efficiency and satisfaction, an inbound call center is a great alternative to hiring in-house staff to manage your call volume.
Finding the right call center for your business will require some research, so let’s get started.
What is an Inbound Call Center?
An inbound call center is another name for a business that specializes in answering all sorts of incoming business calls. As could (and should) be expected, inbound call centers are adept at handling a high volume of calls that would, most likely, sink most in-house call centers. Some of the most common types of calls that inbound call centers handle include:
- phone orders
- customer service
- technical support
- inbound lead qualifying
- answering services
Many inbound call centers specialize in one type of inbound calling, but some inbound call centers – known as consolidated call centers – can handle several different types of inbound calls. If you are looking for more than one of the services listed above, it may be a good idea to consider consolidated inbound call centers so you can have all of your needs met at a single destination. However, if the types of calls your business receives are rather complex and require a very thorough understanding of your industry, you might want to consider a specialized inbound call center. Learn more about call center terminology so you can ask the right questions and find the best call center service provider for your business.
In-House vs. Outsource
If your business receives a small number of calls per month, the argument could be made for an in-house call center. An in-house call center can be more cost-efficient than outsourcing if you have a relatively low call volume, but keep in mind that there is a cost for the equipment, experience, and knowledge of trained professionals backing your in-house call operations. If your business receives a lot of calls, then the decision is hands-down in favor of an inbound call center.
Why? Once your call volume reaches a certain point, in order to be effective, you would have to upgrade your in-house phone equipment and software, reconfigure your office and hire new employees. You would also have to cope with any unexpected changes without the benefit of call center expertise. An inbound call center is specifically designed to deal with fluctuations, difficulties, and challenges. Let a qualified call center service do their job so that you can get back to doing yours. Find out the 5 Key Ingredients of a Quality Call Center.
Not convinced? Keep reading: the following situations are tailor-made for inbound call centers:
- Rapid Growth: Project launches or expansions into new territories can generate a plethora of calls over a very short time period.
- Unpredictable Call Volume: A dramatic seasonal upswing of inbound calls or unpredictable ebbs and flows of calls throughout the year can quickly overwhelm in-house staff.
- Testing: If your business is about to be flooded with inbound calls and you have not properly tested your phone system to ensure that it can manage this volume, you are risking the loss of potential sales due to technical issues.
- 24 Hour Service: If your business needs to provide customers with around the clock service and support, it can be challenging to maintain consistent staffing for these hours.
Benefits of Outsourcing
There are several benefits to outsourcing your inbound calls to a high-quality call center service provider.
Some of these include:
- Volume: Inbound call centers can employ hundreds of customer service representatives (CSRs) who are well-trained and experienced in effectively handling a high volume of incoming calls.
- Flexibility: Inbound call centers know that customer call volume can vary widely. They can add or reassign reps as necessary to your account ensuring maximum service for minimum cost. TIP: When shopping around, request a copy of the provider’s service level agreement. The fine print can widely vary from one provider to the next.
- Effectiveness: Inbound call centers specialize in effective incoming call management. This is the primary job of the CSR – to handle calls with professionalism and efficiency while meeting the needs of the customer. Unlike in-house staff, who are often balancing additional job responsibilities, these representatives are hired to solely focus on serving the customer.
- Cost: Outsourcing your calls to an inbound call center saves your business the cost of building, hiring, and training your own staff to do the job. By paying a fixed rate to a call center, you can instantly ramp up your money making strategy. Outsourcing means you’re paying for a necessary service, but you aren’t pouring capital into the initial set-up and continual maintenance fees. Note: Call centers have different methods of billing. Ask the provider about their payment policy before signing any paperwork. Learn the 5 mistakes to avoid when shopping for an inbound call center.
- Timeliness: Setting up your own call center takes time and effort. It could be weeks, if not months before your business sees a return on investment. By contrast, an inbound call center can begin taking calls for you overnight. If time is of the essence, hire a service with trained professionals to handle your call volume instead trying to ‘wing it’ with your limited resources.
Understand the Needs of Your Business
The most important thing to know before shopping around for an inbound call center is the volume of calls you expect to receive. When estimating your volume, try to be as accurate as possible. Hefty overage charges are often incurred if you go over your specified call volume limit. On the other hand, if you’re way under, you’ll end up paying for unused services, which nobody wants to do.
If you aren’t sure about your call volume, talk to several different service providers and ask for their input on how to estimate volume. This is what they do for a living. They will usually be able to give you some basic metrics to help you get an idea of trends in call volume based on your industry. It’s also helpful to document your seasonal call volume or any unexpected fluctuations so the call center can recommend the right type of service plan to meet the needs of your business. Many inbound call centers are willing to accommodate fluctuations with their pricing plans as long as call volume stays within a ballpark range of your estimated number.