Providing professional customer service is a must for most businesses today. But at the same time, it’s a full-time job by itself. Tons of companies are struggling to find the time to fully focus on customer service with the resources they have in-house. That’s why many are turning to outsourced call center solutions to make sure their customers and clients are getting the time and attention they deserve over the phone. When it comes to outsourcing a call center service, your business will have two options: an on-premise call center or a remote call center service. We will address the differences as well as the pros and cons to using a remote service. Then, we’ll suggest some questions to ask before choosing a remote call center service.
What is a Remote Call Center?
A remote call center is simply a professional inbound call center service that utilizes remote employees. Compared to an on-premise call center, where customer service professionals work side-by-side at an in-person location, a remote call center hires customer service professionals that work from home (or remotely, off-site).
Why are Remote Call Centers Becoming Popular?
Now that cloud-based VoIP phone systems are widely available to professionals all over the world, the need for an on-premise call center is becoming unnecessary. Remote call center agents can easily stay connected with their team via VoIP solutions for call centers, unified communication systems, and other efficient technology.
Additionally, at-home Internet is improving and many professionals have the broadband needed to take calls from home. Call center providers no longer need to set up their agents on-premise and provide them with equipment. Most remote agents are self-sufficient and already have the equipment they need to work at home. From there, the call center provider simply pays the agent based on the number of calls they take. All in all, remote call centers are actually saving both providers and businesses who hire the company lots of money.
What Tasks Can a Remote Call Center Agent Handle?
Remote call centers are just as efficient as on-premise call centers. Most remote call center agents are trained as professional customer service representatives prior to working remotely. Therefore, they have experience handling common call center needs. Just like an on-premise phone answering service, remote call center agents can handle tasks for your company such as:
- Appointment setting
- Questions about an account
- IT and technical support
- Order processing
- Message taking
- And much more
Pros and Cons to Using a Remote Call Center
Many businesses acknowledge the benefits to using a remote call center, but want to weigh the pros and cons before hiring one. When deciding whether you want to outsource your call center needs to an on-premise call center company or a remote call center, make sure to review the following pros and cons.
- Cost-effective. Many times, a call center that utilizes remote customer service agents will save you some money monthly and annually. When a call center doesn’t need to incur maintenance and equipment costs of on-premise operations, they save money and you do too. And the best part is that you are not sacrificing on quality.
- Higher quality staff. Since the labor pool is not confined to a single location, this means that the call center company can choose from the best customer service representatives out there. Oftentimes this means they are able to hire a higher-quality and more experienced staff.
- Niche customer service needs. Similarly, since the call center is pulling talent from anywhere, it usually means they’ll have professionals on their staff that are a great fit for your business’s particular niche customer base.
- Around the clock service. Many on-premise centers close down during certain hours. But most remote call centers are able to hire professionals to cover customer service needs 24/7.
- Training and coaching. Since remote agents are working away from a central location, they won’t be able to get hands-on training directly from supervisors when an issue may arise. This can sometimes cause communication break-downs.
- No unified work culture. Partnering with a company with a strong sense of culture and teamwork is important to many companies. When hiring a remote call center, you may be missing out on the feeling of working with a company that has a sense of pride in who they are.
- Accountability. Remember that remote agents usually work privately from home. In this sense, there’s no one to take direct accountability over their conversations with clients and customers. An unmotivated remote agent can possibly cause customer dissatisfaction.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Remote Call Center
Even considering the potential cons of a remote call center, there are many reasons to be drawn to hiring one! Partnering with a remote call center can have a positive impact on controlling your budget without compromising quality. When you start to do your research and reach out to companies to see if they’re a good fit for your business, there are several questions we advise you to ask. Make sure to address the following questions and topics.
1. How will I be charged?
Each remote call center will have its own billing structure. They may charge you annually or monthly, depending on their available contract lengths. Additionally, call centers usually charge your company per minute or per call. Although remote call centers are known to be cost-efficient, make sure you roughly calculate your cost per month. This way, you will make sure you are not spending outside your budget.
2. Are remote agents on-shore or off-shore?
Remote call centers may use agents located within your country or overseas. If agents are off-shore, you may want to ensure they are fluent in your language, familiar with your industry and business model, as well as any other cultural barriers. Check out our list of 5 top-rated U.S. based call center providers.
3. How many agents will be assigned to my company?
When working with a remote call center, it’s always good to have a positive and transparent relationship with call center agents assigned to your account. When choosing a remote call center, ask how many agents you will be teaming up with. Also ask a little about their background and experience in your industry.
4. Do agents have experience related to my industry?
It’s always great to work with call center professionals who have experience helping customers and clients in your industry. This can result in better quality calls, shorter call times, happier customers, and a better reputation overall for your business.
5. Do you provide 247 support?
If your business needs inbound call center services for customers around the clock, make sure to ask the remote call center if they’ll be able to support this. You will also want to be sure to ask the remote call center’s hours of availability for helping you with your account.
6. How will remote agents deliver information to me?
It’s very important for many companies to get notifications about customer or client issues in real time. Make sure to ask the remote call center how agents will communicate important information. For instance, is there a specific software you need to set up to get real time alerts? Can the remote call center accommodate your specific notification requests?
7. How does your remote call center protect sensitive data?
It’s crucial for some companies to protect sensitive data. When hiring a remote call center, you need to be able to trust that they’re keeping private information confidential and secure. Make sure to ask what steps they take to protect your data, especially if you work in the healthcare industry and need to follow HIPAA guidelines.
8. How do you train and coach staff?
It’s likely your remote call center agents have lots of years of experience handling customer service issues. However, you still want to make sure agents are staying up to date on training and getting adequate coaching to maintain great service. Every reliable remote call center should have a training and coaching system in place to make sure remote agents are providing the best service on your customer calls as possible.
If you are in the market for a professional call center service, make sure to check out our Call Center Buyer’s Guide to learn everything you need to know. Also be sure to read about the best phone answering services.
If you are ready to compare prices for a remote call center or any other type of call center service, just use a simple online comparison tool! Answer just a few questions about your business needs and we’ll provide you with up to 5 free quotes that match your business.