What is the Difference between a Call Center and an Answering Service?

Difference between a Call Center and an Answering Service

When deciding whether you need an answering service versus a call center, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. An answering service simply takes calls, routes calls, takes messages, and notifies you of emergency calls. A call center can also function as an answering service but it takes more complex and longer calls. Let’s examine the similarities and differences a bit further to ensure your business chooses the correct support.

Call Center Services

Call centers are set up differently than answering services in that they handle more operational support tasks like:

  • Customer service calls
  • Order and shipping management calls
  • Overflow calls
  • Virtual receptionist needs
  • Tech support services
  • Bilingual representative services
  • CRM & loyalty/renewal program

Answering Services

When determining if your business needs a call center versus answering services, an answering service would handle these types of tasks:

  • Sudden increase in call volume
  • Shorter call duration
  • Message taking and call relaying to another department
  • After hours answering and call routing
  • Live chat answering
  • Message forwarding

Both services answer calls and function as employees from your business. Call centers and answering services both also handle inbound and outbound calls. However, answering services are different from call centers in that agents typically are not providing additional information to the caller. Answering service agents are trained to properly take messages and route calls. In a call center, the agents are providing additional information and answering call questions. The call passed through an answering service will be much shorter in duration than one routed through a call center. Answering service calls are simpler in nature than call centers.

When understanding if your business needs a call center or answering service support, think of the nature of the call and how you would want the call to be answered and handled. From there, Responsive Call Center will work directly with you to map out a call flow and benchmarks needed in terms of call length. Responsive Call Center will provide your team with a recommendation if an answering service or a call center will be needed and which solution is best for you.

Responsive Call Center agents are trained to handle all different types of complex calls across verticals. Responsive Call Center agents work directly with your operations team to ensure quality, brand and message are carried through and every call is answered. Whether your business provides a medical or real estate service, the Responsive Call Center team will set up an introduction and on-boarding call directly with your employees to train in the company’s culture and expertise. The Responsive Call Center agents become a direct extension of your company providing your team the scalability and automation that is needed at this time. Free up your management and sales team to address core business related issues while the Responsive Call Center agents take care of your clients.

Let’s get started today to understand what type of service works best for your business and create a plan.

Our state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff allow us to make sure you never miss your customers’ calls again. Contact Responsive Call Center to find out more about how we can help you best manage the calls that are most important to you.

Where Should Your Call Center Location Be?

Woman speeding thru the office on the scooter with a rocket strapped to her back while her happy multiethnic co-workers are watching her succeed in the workplace. Plenty of copyspace.

 

Now that you have decided that having a dedicated call center is right for your business, the next point of consideration is where it should be located: onshore, nearshore, or offshore. Your decision will likely be impacted by the industry your business is in, your budget, and the needs of your customers.

The location you choose should be one you can affordably visit to monitor operations for quality and regulatory compliance. It should also offer you access to talented employees at a cost you are comfortable with. Employees at the site should have access to training on your products, services, and policies as necessary, in an environment that provides data security for your company and customers. They should also speak all of the languages your customers do so they can provide the best customer experience and service.

These issues considered, here’s how the three options for call center locations compare.

Onshore/Domestic Call Center

Located in the United States
• If your company is located in the United States, this option provides the least concern regarding any language or cultural barriers for your customers and the best assurance that your brand will be properly supported.
• Your call center operations would be close to your company’s base, making travel for training and oversight convenient.
• Your understanding of and compliance with any regulations that govern your industry is likely to be better.
• Data security can be easily created, supported, and monitored.
• Usually the best option for call centers highly driven to provide premium customer service.

 

Nearshore Call Center

Located outside the United States but nearby in either Mexico, Central America, South America, or islands near those places
• Travel to your call center in these regions is not difficult in terms of time and cost.
• Your call center would likely have access to agents who speak both Spanish and English well – two languages that are most common to customers in the United States.
• Potential employees will likely understand the cultural aspects of life in the United States.
• Labor costs are generally lower than in the United States.
• This option is typically best for smaller call center operations.

 

Offshore Call Center

Located in areas distant from the United States, such as Eastern Europe, Asia, India, and the Philippines
• If the cost of labor is your primary concern, having an offshore call center may best meet that requirement.
• You would likely locate your call center in one of the larger cities in any of these regions so you would probably have access to a large labor supply that speaks multiple languages.
• Many potential employees will likely understand the need to work hours that are compatible with business hours in the United States.
• You may find that governments in these locations will offer incentives for companies that offer jobs in their countries.
• This option is typically best for large call center operations.

 

Whichever call center option is right for your business, Responsive Call Center can provide a dedicated call center solution that helps your business grow. We have been helping businesses like yours nationally and internationally for more than 40 years manage their inbound, outbound, and business process outsourcing services to satisfy each of their unique needs.

We provide real-time technological solutions to optimize workflow and our call centers utilize a myriad of telecommunication applications, including Interactive Voice Response (IVR), Workforce Management (WFM), Softphone Software, and computer telephony integration (CTI) enabled phone systems.

Contact us to find out more about how our dedicated solutions can work for your business.

Outsourcing Live Chat

Benefits of Outsourcing Live Chat

Customers and potential customers who visit your website want answers to their questions as quickly as possible. If they have to wait for you and your staff to answer by email or phone, you may lose business in the process. Live chat is a web-based service that allows businesses to communicate, or chat, in real time with visitors to their website. It is commonly used to provide immediate customer support and information to clients and customers.

Having live chat on your website helps you retain business and grow your business in real time. These services are even more effective for your business when you outsource live chat.

Outsourcing live chat can work wonders for your business. Consider the following:

  • Live chat helps to increase sales
    • • Live chat is 100 times faster than any other digital support channel.
    • • An American Marketing Association study found that businesses using live chat increased sales by an average of 20%.
    • • An eMarketer study found that 35% more people made purchases immediately after using live chat, as opposed to other channels.
  • Live chat helps you retain business
    • • eDigital research showed that live chat has the highest rate of customer satisfaction, compared to email and voice.
    • • Industry research shows that live chat helps improve customer loyalty.
    • • Live chat provides transcripts of customer information which helps you stay in touch with them.
  • Reduces staff and operations costs
    • • A Technographics study shows that handling customer service functions via live chat is 50% less expensive than using live calls.
    • • No need to allocate or increase staff to handle your live chat function.
    • • No need to pay for extra staff salaries and benefits.
    • • No need to buy expensive technology to facilitate live chat.
    • • Industry research shows that skilled live chat operators can handle many interactions simultaneously.

Responsive Call Center can provide your company with top quality live chat support as well as other services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – or just when you need it.

Take a moment to contact Responsive Call Center today. Let’s discuss how we can help you grow your business.

How to Stay in Touch in an “Always On” World

answering services

The right telephone answering service will be an expert at helping you employ a variety of communication methods to help you stay top-of-mind with your customers. At certain points of customer contact, it is crucial to know and employ the best communication methods for the purposes of positive customer response and conversion rates.

Here are a few tips on how to create and use the best direct response tactics:

Create a Customer Journey Map as Part of the Communication Plan

This will detail every step of your customers’ contact with your business so that you can align your communication with them to sync with each step in their process.

Communicate As Your Customers Do

Pay attention to how they communicate with their audiences and your company, and model your communications with them in the same way.

Create a Communication Plan to Address Customer Pain Points

Pain points that customers experience when interacting with your business can actually be opportunities to grow your business with them if they are handled well by staff. Creating a communication plan to address each of these is an important step in making that goal a reality.

Create a Communications Plan for Leveraging Your Customers’ Best Experiences

With the advent of social media, customers’ recommendations have become even more important than ever before. Create a communication plan to incentivize your happiest customers to spread the word.

Create a Communications Plan to Entice Back Inactive Customers

Chances are good that these prospects can be brought back into your company’s fold with the right contact and incentives.

Support Customers’ Preferences for Call, Text and/or Email Responses

Give your customers as many options as possible when it comes to communicating with your company.

Validate Your Customers’ Purchases

Make sure to have a communication plan to thank customers for doing business with you and highlight the positives of their purchases.

Keep Communication Simple

Make sure that all of your options for customer communication have as few steps as possible.

Timing is Crucial

Are you communicating with your customers when it is most important that they hear from you? Make sure that your communications don’t lag behind customer activity or desired activity.

Build Helpful Content into Your Communications Plans

When you offer information that your customers likely will find helpful in running their business or their own marketing efforts, they see you as adding value to their interaction with you and you build brand loyalty.

Make Sure Your Customer Communications are Consistent

Customers want to know that they can depend on you no matter what the reason is for contact with your company. Make sure your communications with them are consistent in terms of voice, frequency, and quality.

 

For more than 40 years, Responsive Call Center has created and managed customer communications plans for numerous industries, including medical, legal, commercial services (plumbing, HVAC, etc.), real estate and property management, construction, government agencies, and charities. Our team of live operators are available all day, every day to handle your business calls the same way you would; you will see the difference when your business no longer relies on answering machines or automated phone systems. Our highly trained staff will make sure you never miss your customers’ calls. Contact Responsive Call Center to discuss the ways we can help you manage your calls.

Making Your Customer Service Memorable

The differences between call center agents with a great attitude for customer service and those whose attitudes need some improving are often very clear. Because the effects of both are going to impact your business, it’s important to not only look for certain traits in those you hire for the job but to also train people with certain behaviors in mind. The following tips highlight how to ensure your agents are successful at providing quality customer service.

The Ultimate winning traits when it comes to customer service.

  • Knowledgeable Agents
    Successful call center agents know the company and what it offers well. Make sure that your staff is sufficiently trained and updated regarding products and services regularly. An agent who is prepared to answer your customers’ questions will deliver memorable customer service.
  • Organized Agents
    Organized agents can navigate customer issues using the tools they are working with because they are set up and ready to be deployed.
  • Rapid Response
    Agents who provide a rapid response to customers are ready to take the next call as soon as they finish the one prior. This gives customers a smooth and pleasant experience when they contact your company.
  • Attentive Listening
    Successful call center agents are completely engaged in their conversations with customers, actively listening to the points they are making so they can provide solutions that match customers’ expectations as closely as possible. Making your customer feel like the agent’s number one priority is key in providing memorable customer service.
  • Patient Agents
    Call center agents must always be prepared to encounter frustrated customers. In these situations, being patient means allowing customers the opportunity to explain their situation in full, not reacting negatively to them, and calmly providing an explanation and solution.
  • Clear Communication
    Using industry jargon to explain solutions to customers can become confusing. Make sure to clearly communicate situations and solutions in clear, layman’s terms – keeping answers concise and as free of extraneous information as possible.
  • Empathetic Interaction
    Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s position to understand their viewpoint. An empathetic interaction with the frustrated customer involves reassuring them that their issue is understood, that it will be given attention, and the specific steps that will be taken to resolve it – as well as a timeline for doing so.
  • Positive Attitude
    Displaying a negative attitude toward customers will always have negative results. No matter how upset customers can be, agents must keep a positive attitude that centers on using positive language that reassures customers their issues will be resolved.
  • Adaptable Agents
    Because change is a constant factor in call center agents’ daily experience, they should have the ability to easily adapt. They need to be prepared to handle a variety of customer demands, switching between channels, and technical issues. Because each customer interaction is different, successful call center agents need to adapt quickly and go with the flow and provide the best solution possible for each customer.

Responsive Call Center’s team of professional and experienced call center agents knows what it takes to provide excellent customer service for your callers. Contact us today to discuss how our team can partner with your brand to provide memorable customer service experience for every one of your callers.

Ultimate winning traits for customer service