Building Out A Call Center Infrastructure
A boom in business may necessitate the need for a call center infrastructure build-out. For small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs), not having the available capital to invest in something like an on-site call center, a call center outsourcing company would be the next best option. Even for those capable of investing in an on-site call center, they’ll quickly find out that to set it up properly, including hiring talented call-takers is no easy feat. With all the time, energy, and money required, getting it wrong is out of the question.
To help you determine if your organization is ready for a call center whether on-premise or outsourced, we’ve compiled seven critical steps to launching an effective call center infrastructure build-out.
Step 1: Take an honest inventory of your organization to ascertain if your business is ready for a call center.
One of the most important things any organization should do before establishing or outsourcing a customer care call center, you should be sure that your organization is ready for it. To achieve this, you should be able to answer Yes to the following questions:
✓ Is your organization’s customer base growing so fast that your staff has trouble managing the increasing traffic?
✓ Do you need specialized customer care agents to handle topic-specific customer service calls?
✓ Do you feel it’s necessary to hire additional sales associates to handle inbound marketing campaigns designed to expand your organization’s reach more quickly?
✓ Is your organization’s operating capital sufficient to start and maintain an in-house or outsourced call center?
If you were able to place a checkmark next to each one of those questions, then it’s safe to say your business is ready to start a call center infrastructure build-out. While many enterprises still prefer to hire sales and customer service representatives locally, a growing number have switched to outsourcing outside talent. Not only is doing so economical but saves them the trouble of interviewing, vetting, hiring, and training new staff members. They also don’t have to worry about spending additional capital on expanding office space and purchasing all the necessary equipment.
Step 2: Do your research and outline your organization's goals.
It goes without saying that for any company to be successful, its leaders must have the long road ahead fully mapped out. This is a crucial step in forming an effective call center infrastructure. You can use the following processes to create a road map for your call center to follow.
Write Down Your Goals
Before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to write down a list of your goals. List what exactly you intend to achieve from creating or outsourcing a call center.
Conduct a Needs Analysis
After you’ve compiled a list of possible goals for your business, it’s time to conduct a needs analysis. When doing this, it’s a great idea to reach out to important people such as fellow leaders, investors, stakeholders, as well as current staff members. Their feedback will be instrumental in helping you build an effective call center infrastructure build-out. Ask them about some goals they, too, have for the growth and development of the organization. Also, ask them what issues they feel need addressing and how they think employing a call center will help resolve those issues. Of course, you can add any other questions to your needs analysis as you deem fit.
After conducting your needs analysis, it’s time to consolidate all of your data in order to identify your organization’s pain points, what solutions are currently working, and how a call center can potentially help in those areas.
Step 3: Allow Your Organization's Goals to Guide Your Hiring Choices.
Once your organization has clear goals set in place for your call center infrastructure build-out, you can make choices that align with your budget, objectives, and organizational needs. This helps you and anyone you hire understand the purpose of your call center, making the hiring process easier. For example, if the purpose of your call center is to boost sales, you’ll want to hire candidates who are proficient English speakers, familiar with the customer relationship management (CRM) your company uses and have a reputation for producing results.
It goes without saying that finding a candidate with such skills involves a far different hiring process than finding someone to merely help answer the phone, transfer calls, and take messages. Your organization’s goals can also be used to figure out how many call center employees you need to hire. To do this, you’ll have to quantify your analytical data. From there, you can tell the number of call center agents required to cover your needs, the number required to continue expanding and be able to pinpoint any excess caused by hiring too many people.
Building an effective call center infrastructure build-out takes a different process depending on the company. Either way, if you have thoroughly conducted an analysis of your organization’s needs and defined your goals, that information can be used to assist in making your hiring decisions. By doing this, you’re ensuring that the people you hire are aligned with your goals.
Step 4: Make Sure Your Call Center Has the Right Tools
Before you even begin hiring a call center team, it’s crucial to be sure that you have the correct tools for them to do their job successfully. Below, we’ve listed some of the most important tools we think you should consider investing in before building or outsourcing your call center.
Your organization will need a centralized place to store all of your customers’ information if you’re outsourcing a remote call center. A great way for everyone on your team to access customer information, including remote employees, is through a CRM. A CRM is important for both in-house and off-site call center employees.
Time Analytics Software
Track how many hours your remote call center employees have worked and how they’re spending their time using time analytics software like Time Doctor. Keeping track of their time is important for a number of reasons:
- Tracking their time makes sure you only pay them for the time they have actually worked. Time analytics software begins tracking employees’ time from the moment they actually start working until they stop.
- It’s easy for you to integrate your company’s payroll and invoicing systems into most time analytics software solutions, making paying remote workers a lot simpler.
- Time analytics software makes it quite easy to track how often your employees are actually working versus doing other things.
- Time analytics software allows you to see if your company has too many people on the clock or if they’re getting swamped by inbound calls.
Cloud-Based Call Center Software
You’ll need to acquire a cloud-based call center software solution if you’re planning on hiring remote workers for your call center. Cloud-based software programs allow employees around the globe to access import data, whether your company’s needs are outbound, inbound, multi-channel, or blended. The only thing they’ll need to do is log in, and you’ll be able to track all of their interactions through a single system.
Whenever you’re setting up a cloud-based call center software solution, these are a few of the key features you should be looking out for. Keep in mind that not all solutions offer these sets of features. However, you can still identify which features are most critical to your specific needs and pick them accordingly.
Step 5: Consider the Type of Skills Your Call Center Employees Need
Before you can start the hiring process, you should think about what type of skills your call center agents should possess. This is an important step since anyone working in your call center will essentially be acting as employees of a physical storefront. They will be virtual representatives of your company and your brand; any interactions customers have with these call center agents will directly impact their overall opinion of your company and have an impact on its reputation.
Some Additional Food for Thought
Your business is growing. It took unwavering dedication and commitment to get this far. As a reward, you’ve earned the trust and loyalty of countless customers. To continue growing and expanding your company’s reach, you feel it’s time to allocate incoming customer service to a call center. If you’re contemplating investing in a call center infrastructure build-out, you should get well acquainted with everything it entails and all the options that are available to organizations of all sizes.
Back in the olden days, long before the mass proliferation of digital technology, calling an organization with a well-managed call center gave one the impression of professionalism. When speaking with pleasant and accommodating customer support agents, callers assumed they were dealing with a large, well-organized company. Some of the most iconic call center photographs were taken during the 1960s when the idea was still fairly new. They featured smartly dressed operators, sitting with a perfect posture, and a warm smile on their face as if each call they took meant the world to them.
However, as most of us can attest, decades of developmental and innovative stagnation in call center culture left a dirty stain on customer service in general. In an article published by Vice1, employing call center agents as customer service/slash inbound marketing/problem solver/verbal punching bag is a relatively new phenomenon. The original call centers were merely switchboards with operators transferring inbound calls of all sorts to the correct department.
Most small- and medium-sized companies weren’t big enough to warrant a switchboard, taking customer service calls handled by regular employees, office staff, and even the owners themselves. In an interview with Vice, Barbara Woolman Preston, the daughter of Delta Air Lines founder C. E. Woolman explained how her father would invite passengers over to his house for dinner if there were delays. Woolman was even known to allow passengers to spend the night at his house if delays lasted until the following day.
“All of a sudden he would call mother and have four people he was bringing home for lunch because they’d had a mechanical [delay with the aircraft] and they were on the flight, so he just brought them home for lunch. And mother would say, ‘Barbara, run out in the yard and pull us some corn.’ And I’d go pull about 36 ears of corn and bring them in, and she’d drop them in the water, and lunch was corn and bread and butter and coffee. And that was what we had to offer, and that’s what the airline passengers got when they were delayed,” Preston related.
Today, digital technology facilitates even the smallest business and newly launched startups to offer their customers an equally courteous and professional support experience. However, the huge difference with today’s call center infrastructure is that organizations no longer have to invest hundreds or even millions of dollars hosting it themselves. Advances in cloud-based phone systems now allow the outsourcing of call center processes at much lower operational costs. It also greatly decreases downtime while improving connectivity.
Contact center infrastructure includes software and hardware designed to run a contact/call center. This includes automatic call distributors, integrated voice response units, computer-telephony integration, and universal communications or universal queue management, integrating any of these multiple channels for a call/contact center.
Omnichannel support call centers offer a full spectrum of in-person and technology options, depending upon what your operation needs to contract. Additionally, your call center provider can also offer a host of technical customer support features. How much or how little you include in your outward-facing presence is dependent on how personalized your call center services need to be.
Your provider can help you decide when and where within the engagement process speaking with a live person meets your customer expectations and preferences. Automated systems can be set up to “feel” like your staff. The staff, too, should be friendly, well-trained, excited about how they can help your customers and support the services you provide. Having a white-glove call center provider ensures your approach to personalization is captured in both aspects for your call center experience.
Technology can fill the gaps for repetitive and automated tasks: social media, autoresponder, etc. There are some things only a friendly voice, knowledgeable service, and product expertise can fill. A successful call center infrastructure build-out requires a balance between both aspects and your call center partner can guide you along the way.
Considering the addition of a call center, expanding or outsourcing your existing services? Give us a call to learn more.