Call centers are essential to the way we do business. They provide consumers and clients with a key point of contact whenever they have something they need to discuss. That might be anything from a potential new purchase to an issue with an existing product or service.
The exact functions of the call center have evolved over the years, but fundamentally they continue to perform the same role. Whether your business is selling fax software or it offers consulting services, a call center is an indispensable hub of operations and customer service.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what call centers are, what they do, common problems they experience (and how to address them), and how to boost call center productivity.
Call centers handle phone calls with existing and potential customers. They can handle inbound calls from customers or make outgoing calls to them (they commonly do both). While some companies have in-house call centers, others outsource these functions to other firms which specialize in providing these services on behalf of others.
In addition, call centers can perform a number of different functions. They may serve, as we’ve noted, as a point of contact for consumers in need of assistance or who want to make inquiries. They may also be used for the purposes of conducting market research or hunting down new leads through telemarketing.
There is often some confusion about the difference between a call center and a contact center. The clue is in the respective names. Call centers generally only deal with voice calls, while contact centers handle other forms of communication, too. Things such as emails and live chat. However, most call and contact centers today are hybrids of both functions.
Call centers play a hugely important role, but they’re prone to a range of problems. If these aren’t resolved, they can do real damage to businesses. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common call center problems.
Staff turnover is a huge problem for any business, but call centers are particularly prone to it. After all, working in call centers - dealing with often disgruntled customers and clients - can be tough, and draining on agents’ mental health.
As well as high rates of staff turnover, this can also translate into absenteeism. Agents should therefore be offered good support as well as financial incentives to encourage them to stay in the job.
Another common problem facing call centers is that many of the agents employed in them don’t understand the technology they’re using. They, therefore, don’t use it as well as they should.
This can cost you valuable business as well as inflicting avoidable frustration on customers. Such issues can generally be resolved, however, through more thorough training.
It should go without saying that it’s important to resolve customer calls as quickly as possible. If they can be resolved on the initial call, this is ideal for both the call center and the customer.
This is what’s known as first call resolution. If calls are consistently being passed between multiple agents, this may be indicative of a wider problem.
Following on from our earlier point about turnover, call center agents often become disengaged from their role because of the strain they find themselves under.
This is why it’s so important to find ways of keeping staff engaged with their work. An emphasis on training and team building can help to maintain both morale and focus.
Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with some of the problems facing call centers, we now need to discuss what measures can be taken to maximise productivity and improve performance.
We’ve discussed already how call center agents can find themselves under a great deal of pressure. This takes an inevitable toll over time.
The most important thing to remember here, then, is that you need to pay attention to staff and give them the space to air their concerns. If these concerns are openly discussed and addressed, this can help to significantly lower staff turnover and thereby improve productivity.
Furthermore, call center staff need to be trained properly so that they know what they can expect in the job. This will leave them in a better position to meet the challenges they inevitably confront, in addition to helping them bear the strain of the job more effectively.
It will also help to maintain employee engagement and keep agents focused on the work they’re doing.
Finally, call center operators are only as good as the tools at their disposal. Their employers must make sure that they have the right call center software to hand. This will help them in their efforts to juggle the various demands of their job.
Again, however, they must be trained properly in how to use it. Otherwise the business as a whole won’t get the benefit it should.
Call centers are vital to businesses and perform an essential customer support function. Some call centers are in-house operations while others are outsourced to third parties. Some online research will help you find the best UK call center solution for your business.