Last Updated: February 2, 2023
At some point in life, every single one of us has interacted with a call center. They’re not that simple, though. Do you really know what is a call center and what the responsibilities are of call center representatives?
In this article, we’ve highlighted the key points about a call center and its purpose, including what forms there are and what you need to know if you’re interested in starting a call center.
What Is a Call Center?
A call center is a business department in which customer service representatives handle calls (inbound or outbound) based on business needs and requirements. Frequently, call centers serve several purposes, such as telemarketing, billing, debt collection, and more. For these functions, they need to use some of the most reliable virtual phone systems out there.
Essentially, call centers to facilitate communication between brands and customers, whether related to support and service inquiries or ensuring requests are routed to appropriate departments.
|DID YOU KNOW? Typically, Mondays are found to be the busiest days in call centers.|
How a Call Center Works and the Purpose It Serves
A call center represents a communication channel that the clients use to request or report an issue to a business. Call agents working as service representatives and customer support answer calls from clients who need assistance addressing a particular problem. After a problem has been reported, the representatives work to solve it; the issue can be solved during the first interaction or in a follow-up call.
Even though every call center differs in some way, most operate using a similar responsive system. Shortly after clients alert the service department about a problem, the call agents respond to the report and provide a solution.
The Different Forms of Call Centers
When it comes to types of call centers, they can operate as inbound or outbound calls. Let’s see in what way they differ:
Inbound Call Center
In an inbound call center, the customer support representatives handle incoming customer calls. In this type of call center, the agents respond to the requests of the customers and try to assist them according to their needs. Before connecting to a call agent, customers are usually asked a couple of questions via an IVR system (interactive-voice-response) which is designed to direct the calls to the appropriate department.
If you’re thinking of opening a call center, you should be aware that commonly, inbound contact centers are used by businesses that want to offer product, technical, and billing support on a large scale. These agents are trained and equipped with certain instructions to assist with resolving requests and questions as quickly as possible and measured on KPIs as customer satisfaction and resolution time.
Outbound Call Center
On the other hand, according to the outbound call center definition, these agents are the ones who are placing calls instead of receiving them, mostly as part of a promotional campaign or sales. The targeted audience for these types of calls is managed and defined through the company’s CRM (customer relationship management) system. This process is automated by specialized software, such as the predictive dialer, which allows agents to make a significant number of calls rapidly.
These two call centers are subject to regulations such as TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) which specifies when and how agents can call a residential phone number. Some modern contact centers can perform outbound communication via clients’ preferred methods like email or text, which some consider less intruding than phone calls; this is one of the call center pros
|DID YOU KNOW? Phone service is preferred by 76% of Americans over any other channel.|
|A call center is a business department in which customer service representatives handle calls (inbound or outbound) based on the requirements and needs of the business.|
|Call centers serve several functions, such as telemarketing, billing, debt collection, and more.|
|A call center represents a communication channel that the clients use to request or report a certain issue to a business.|
|Inbound and outbound call centers are the two main types of call centers.|
What Is a Virtual Call Center?
The main difference between a virtual call center and a regular office-based contact center is that in a virtual call center, the customer service representatives are working from home and the centralized ‘location’ is software.
The call agents working in a virtual call center can be located in different countries and time zones across the globe. This enables the company to provide 24/7 customer support; it cost much less to run compared to the traditional call centers as well. To be sure that employees are doing the job right, the company can use some top-rated time-tracking software.
Wondering how a virtual call center works? Instead of landline phones, virtual call center representatives sign in to call center software which uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to access cloud calling, emails and messaging. The call agents take care of customers’ needs by recording the information in the organization’s CRM, and all data is stored in the cloud. All the managers and agents working at the virtual call center can access the updated account history from anywhere.
What Is the Difference Between a Contact Center and a Call Center?
The terms contact center and call center are frequently used loosely to refer to one another, but there are differences between them.
Call centers are supposed to handle inbound or outbound calls via copper-wired phone lines and VoIP. Today, clients want to interact with organizations through different digital communication channels. Organizations can address customer interactions through social media, live chat, email, messaging, and more.
The difference between a call center and a contact center is that contact centers ease omnichannel contact with customers by providing businesses a 360-degree view of their clients across different touchpoints. This is enabled by integrating with a company’s CRM so every interaction can be managed and tracked from a centralized dashboard.
Even though many organizations provide customer interaction via channels other than a phone, the term call center is accepted and often used interchangeably with the term contact center.
|DID YOU KNOW? According to a global customer service report, 95% of respondents claimed that customer service is crucial for brand loyalty.|
How to Start a Call Center
If you want to establish a call center on your own, you need to be well informed about every step of the way. Make sure to follow these steps:
Determine Your Goals
First, determine the goals of your call center. Why do you want or need to start it? Consider what you will need to run a successful call center; the main goal will depend on your specific needs, for instance:
- If you run a startup or a small business, your goal could be to increase lead generation and attract new clients.
- If you run a larger business, your main goal may be customer satisfaction and better overall technical support.
When opening a call center, after setting your goals, consider the call center metrics, which will serve as KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure the call center services’ success.
Decide on a Budget
Come up with a budget and calculate how much money you can spend on starting a call center. Doing the math will help you to determine how much it’ll take for your call center will operate, such as the number of employees, the location, and the type of tools and technology.
Identify the Type of the Call Center
When thinking about how to start a call center business, it’s crucial to determine which type of call center will fit your business the most. Each type of call center has its unique benefits, so decide which one will suit you best based on your needs.
You can choose between inbound vs. outbound call centers or on-site vs. virtual call centers.
Build a Team
What’s a call center representative? To get the best of the best, you have to find suitable people that will help your call center be successful. To make it easier for you to decide who would be the best choice, create a list of the characteristics the support worker should have. For example:
- Are they able to work flexible hours?
- Is prior experience a key or not?
- Should they prefer a small talk or go straight to business?
These types of questions will help you find suitable candidates for an interview, and at the same time give a potential candidate an idea of how a call center works. You should be clear about the nice-to-haves vs. must-haves in a call center resume.
Train Your Employees
Always make sure that your employees are fully equipped and well trained so they can fulfill their roles! You can either train them at an office location, on-site, or online. In a virtual call center, employees receive support in settings and are up-to-speed on all necessary software and tools the company uses.
Don’t forget to provide the agents with a call center script to assist newer employees and to keep brand messaging consistent.
Find the Right Software and Tools
What’s a call center without high-speed Internet? It’s a waste of time! One of the most important things is securing high-speed Internet, whether it’s for an in-house or digital call center. There are some other tools and software you can consider using, such as VoIP. This kind of software allows agents to make calls through a data network vs. an analog phone line.
Even though we are all living in a digital era, many customers still prefer reaching companies by phone because they prefer speaking to a real person and seeing immediate action. For high customer satisfaction, every business should be able to meet the needs of all clients, starting from those who spend most of the time on social media, to those who want faster replies over the phone.
Call center services aim to receive a maximum number of calls and resolve issues rapidly with a phone call. Customer service is the extension of support before, during, or after the purchase of a service or product.
A CSR is a customer service representative, also known as a call agent, who is an employee in contact or call center and helps clients with their issues. CSRs play a significant role in influencing the client experience, and they do their job using phone, chat, email, or social media.
Wondering what is a call center and what they do? Every call center has a team of representatives who manage inbound or outbound calls and keep track of open cases.