Customer Service Post-COVID-19: How Call Centers Can Play a Role in Your New 2020 Strategy

Customer Service Post-COVID-19

As we move into the business reopening stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in virtually every industry are facing new challenges in how they manage customer and prospective customer calls. Although many companies were able to function throughout the COVID-19 crisis, rules permeated by states and cities sending their populations into lockdown are experiencing different challenges.

Some may have an overflow of calls due to pent-up demand and the fact that it may not be possible to bring all of their operator staff back to work due to social distancing requirements. Many will need to reduce their costs for staff but need call overflow support more than ever to sustain their business.

One thing that all business leaders know for sure is that each call their companies receive is vital to their future. They are mindful that, in today’s environment, their staff’s ability to ensure a top-quality customer experience may suffer for many reasons, and that creating new processes to address this may take longer than expected to implement with an internal staff but are still desperately needed – and quickly.

When you work with a professional call center, you never miss an opportunity to please customers and grow your business.

A call center operates as a seamless extension of your customer service staff, providing all of what your call answering staff does – but adds significantly more value. Your costs are considerably less than hiring staff to take calls and call center operators can serve your customers and prospects 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The right call center understands your needs in each area and creates a customized program to meet them, train their staff in your business’s policies and procedures, and optimize inbound customer service call management.

There are a variety of customer service call functions a professional call center can expertly handle for you, including:

In addition, call centers can help you better understand how to serve your customers in a challenging environment in which your needs may have changed. Important outbound customer service-related solutions include:

Responsive Call Center is Your Trusted Solution to Manage Customer Contact

For more than 40 years, Responsive Call Center has created and managed customer call flow for many industries, and now in a world with a new normal post-COVID-19, we are here to offer our expertise and assistance. Our experienced live operators are available all day, every day to handle your business calls the same way you would, so you do not have to rely on answering machines or automated systems as you try to keep up with the increased call flow. Our state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff allow us to make sure you never again miss your customers’ calls. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you best manage the calls that are most important to you – especially as businesses start to reopen after COVID-19.

Pay Per Call Campaigns

Pay Per Call Campaigns

Popular and effective, pay per call campaigns are a favorite of expert marketers who want to track their success. They use them to drive online sales and leads through digital channels in the most cost-effective way. Due to the increased volume of calls that accompany pay per call campaigns, businesses that deploy them often partner with a professional call center to handle the heightened call volume and manage its flow.

In a pay per call campaign, a company creates its call-based marketing campaign for an online publisher to launch. After launching, the publisher receives credit for all of the calls the campaign generates, at differing levels of compensation based on factors such as length of the call and whether the call yields a sale.

While pay per call campaigns, by definition, drive customers to connect with a company by phone, most businesses don’t have a call center to effectively handle this increase in phone calls. The result can be a loss of sales and even the company’s reputation if these calls are not professionally handled. The customer experience in making a call through a pay-per-call program should be very much the same as their calling a business directly. When these calls are professionally handled, they represent your brand just as you and your employees do.

Professional call center operators typically run the calls they take for pay per call campaigns through a single call center line. Equipped with scripts and protocols for maximizing each call, they can handle a surprisingly large call volume on your behalf. This operator staff can scale up or down as needed – a benefit most companies can’t leverage unless they outsource to a call answering service. Operators are also are equipped with the latest technology so that you have complete visibility and control over call traffic and customer experience. Calls can be filtered by time, region and other factors, and their flow is carefully managed.

Responsive Call Center has partnered with many companies to deliver effective call center solutions for customized pay per call campaigns. Our experienced team of operators has managed call flow for companies in many industries; they are available all day, every day to handle your calls as an extension of your team so you never miss your customers’ calls again. Contact Responsive Call Center to find out more about how we can help your pay per call campaign deliver sales for your business.

Snowed In? A Call Center Can Help You

All it takes is one bad snowstorm to disrupt your company’s telephone service. And when extreme weather conditions hit, your staff may not be able to get into the office to take your customers’ calls even if your telephone system is working. The solution to these problems is to have a contingency back-up plan with a professional call center based in a different location that can cover your customers’ calls when your staff is snowed in or your telephone service is down.

Professional Call Center Partnership

A professional call center partners with you to take your business’ calls whenever you and your staff are unavailable. If you are snowed in, they provide a full range of communication services based on your preferences and protocols.

Call center professionals work with you before a crisis to create scripts and protocols for agents answering your calls to follow. Protocols also include how you would like your calls routed and how you would like to receive your messages. With all these arrangements made prior to you getting snowed in, your call center agents are ready to take your business’ calls precisely as you have specified and can begin doing so at a moment’s notice. At Responsive Call Center, we can handle all of your communication needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on an as-needed basis.

  • Call Answering – Whenever you need call answering and message delivery back-up, Responsive Call Center’s experienced agents are available.
  • Message Notification – You decide how you would like your messages delivered – to your cell phone by text, by pager or via landlines, email, or fax.
  • Email – Responsive Call Center’s agents can answer both inbound and outbound emails as you specify.
  • Appointment Scheduling – Responsive Call Center makes sure this function continues so you never miss the opportunity to serve your customers.
  • Emergency Dispatch Scheduling – If your staff needs to be dispatched on an emergency basis, our professional agents can handle the task according to your company’s protocols.

For over 40 years, Responsive Call Center has been there for companies needing call management services during emergencies including staff being snowed in. We have trained live operators available all day, every day so there is no reason to worry about how your calls will be handled. You’ll never rely on answering machines or automated systems again, and your customers will sing your praises for it.

Contact us to find out how we can help you best manage the calls that are most important to you when your team is snowed in or unavailable for any reason.

Expanding Operations? It May Be Time for a Call Center

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As you expand operations, you will want to carefully evaluate its customer service performance and set new goals. In that process, you may find that your resources to achieve these goals require a boost. Often, outsourcing customer service to a professional call center is the answer to a company’s ability to provide exceptional customer service as it grows.

Here are five ways to tell if outsourcing your customer service to a call center operation is right for your business:

  1. Booming Business/Not Enough Staff
    • As you grow, it’s important to be sure that your customers are still receiving the care and attention they expect. When you review your customer service performance in light of the growth you have experienced, chances are good you will see that you require more support. One way to make sure this crucial aspect of your company’s growth is being handled properly is to outsource your customer service to a call center. Otherwise, you may need to add staff that your business may not be ready for yet.
  2. Need to Scale Staff as Required
    • If your business has a seasonal aspect or if your customer service requirements fluctuate, it’s important for you to have the ability to scale related staff up or down. You may have found that managing this function internally is difficult due the excessive cost and staff needed to do the repetitive hiring and training involved. If so, the problem can be solved by working with a call center that you can contact whenever you need customer service help – rather than taking the time and expense to hire more staff.
  3. Need Professional Customer Service Staff
    • One way to boost customer loyalty and keep expanding operations is to make sure your company is making the most of its customer service function. If your staff is struggling to service customers and use each contact with them as an opportunity to provide more products and services, it’s time to work with a call center. Our call center staff is highly trained and experienced in customer service techniques. They follow any protocols and scripts your company has to make certain your customers are receiving service you are proud to offer.
  4. Need to Save Money
    • Building customer service staff and investing in the technology to make certain that your company’s customers are receiving the best care is expensive. If saving money is important to you, it’s time to consider working with a professional call center that has top-quality customer service professionals and state-of-the-art systems and technology ready to support your company.
  5. Need 24/7 Customer Service Coverage 365 Days a Year
    • Every time one of your customers contacts your company there is an opportunity to expand operations. However, hiring staff to be available on this constant basis is expensive. Consider working with a call center so you never miss a call and know that your customers are being helped by professionals – and at a much lower cost than using internal staff for the purpose.

Why Responsive Call Center is the Right Call Center for Your Expanding Business

For more than 40 years, Responsive Call Center has created and managed call flow for companies in many industries. We have live operators available all day, every day to handle your business calls the same way you would so you do not have to rely on answering machines or automated systems. Our state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained staff allow us to make sure you never again miss your customers’ calls. 

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you best manage the calls that are most important to your business. 

 

The Call Center Experience

The Call Center Experience

As more and more businesses work with call centers to boost their company’s customer service and sales programs, the industry has kept pace by creating state-of-the-art operations facilities. All successful modern call center operations have a carefully planned and comfortable work facility, the latest communications, connectivity, and data storage technology, as well as a motivating culture.

Carefully Planned Work Facility

Call center headquarters are typically designed in an open office plan that facilitates communication among staff. While many have cubicles to provide some level of privacy for staff conducting individual tasks, their walls are generally around half the size of typical cubicles to best meet the need for team communication among operators. Cubicle walls are typically freestanding and portable, so they can be moved according to the changing staff requirements of the center.

Desks and other work surfaces are adjustable to meet the varying ergonomic needs of individual staff, and adjustable chairs are chosen with staff comfort in mind. They typically have small wheels that allow for fast movement in small spaces. Managers usually have offices stationed around the periphery of the cubicle area. These all will have glass walls on the side of the offices that face the cubicle area for staff supervision purposes.

Restrooms and break rooms are important respite areas for call center staff, who are usually doing intense, repetitive, and highly time-sensitive work.  These are typically outfitted with a greater amount of supplies than those of more traditional businesses to support shift work. Break rooms will be outfitted with a range of snack, beverage, and meal options available from computerized vending machines – in addition to complimentary cool water, coffee and tea. The staff enjoys their breaks at the room’s tables, chairs, and sofas.

Communications, Connectivity, and Data Storage Technology

At the heart of all call centers is the technology used to communicate among staff and with clients. Also key are the data storage systems. These include:

  • Desktop computers with several screens that allow for multi-tasking
  • Wireless headsets that facilitate the operators’ ability to type and retrieve files relevant to calls
  • Central tracking software that distributes waiting calls in the order they were received and gauges the time operators spend on each call
  • Uninterrupted power source so the center functions under any circumstance
  • Data storage devices
  • Data connectivity devices
  • Voice connectivity devices
  • Interactive voice response (IVR) system to collect sensitive data
  • A customizable customer relationship management (CRM) system to suit individual clients needs

Motivational Culture

Having a motivational culture within a call center is essential. Perhaps more than anything else, the culture of a company affects how its staff delivers customer service. Several techniques have proven successful over the history of the call center industry, such as:

  • Visible and accessible managers
  • A program to recognize and reward success on a regular basis
  • A protocol for suggestions from staff
  • Available coaching and skills-building education
  • Consistent policy implementation

Responsive Call Center has all of the above and more.

Responsive Call Center has managed call flow for many industries, including medical, legal, transportation, HVAC, plumbing, real estate, property management, construction, government, leisure & travel, and much more for over 40 years. We have live operators available all day, every day to handle your business calls the same way you would so you do not have to rely on answering machines or automated systems. 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.

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?

Where Should Your Call Center Location Be

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.

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.

Manager’s Step by Step Guide: Call Center Key Performance Metrics

Call Center Key Performance Metrics

One of the most important tasks in call center management is utilizing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to gauge the success of staff in their call answering and problem-solving capacity. These call center metrics are measurable values that show the level of effectiveness of your team in achieving the goals you set.

Call Center KPIs

Research conducted in 2017 by call center software provider Talkdesk showed that there were four impactful KPIs that should be included in the call center metrics of successful businesses. Their rates of occurring vary by industry and the company has noted the average benchmark across all industries as guidance for setting metrics for a successful call center (see chart below).

  • • Average Abandonment Rate – The number of calls that are terminated between the Interactive Voice Response (IVR ) system and the moment an agent answers divided by the total number of inbound calls a call center receives – not including those callers whose needs are satisfied within the IVR system.
  • • Average Time in Queue – The average amount of time the caller spends on hold in the queue while waiting to be connected to a call center representative. Customers experiencing long wait times are more likely to abandon calls and may choose to never call back. This is a missed opportunity to connect with your customer to ensure they are happy, promote your brand and potentially upsell.
  • • Average Speed to Answer – The average time the agent took to answer inbound calls including the amount of time while the agent’s phone is ringing; however, this does not include the time the caller spent in the IVR system or waiting queue. This KPI is associated with efficiency and accessibility and is a contributor to customer satisfaction.
  • • Service Level – This call center metric measures how accessible a business is to their customers and is a good indicator of a company’s ability to plan for call volume fluctuations and execute their staffing strategy. This is clearly tied directly to customer service quality and inbound call center performance; thus, this is usually at the core of a manager’s call center metrics toolkit.

Inbound Contact Center KPIs by Industry

Industry Average Abandonment Rate Average Time in Queue (secs) Average Speed to Answer (secs)
Totals 9.07% 17.28 8.97
Software & Internet 11.12% 14.32 9.24
Financial Services 11.62% 22.95 8.07
Retail & Consumer Products 9.02% 17.86 8.93
Other 7.46% 9.80 8.53
Consumer Services 7.21% 13.32 8.94
Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals & Biotech 8.21% 11.38 7.99
Manufacturing 6.71% 15.53 7.61
Travel, Recreation & Leisure 7.17% 45.38 10.73
Computers & Electronics 5.03% 40.40 10.34


Chart Source: Talkdesk

Given the benchmarks for your industry, it is important to set KPI standards and make certain that they are reached. Using a 24-hour call center such as Responsive Call Center can help you trim costs and efficiently and effectively set KPI standards, as well as ensure that all quality and call center metrics meet your standards.

Contact Responsive Call Center today to learn how we can help you maximize your KPIs.

Offshore, Onshore versus Nearshore Call Center Solutions

If you are considering outsourcing your business’ call center, you have numerous options.  In the process, you will want to evaluate such factors as how close the center needs to be to your business’ location, the cost of the center’s operation, and language and cultural requirements.

When considering the location of your call center services, you have three options: onshore, nearshore, and offshore.

Onshore call center outsourcing is a popular strategy that involves a business selecting a company located in its region or nation to provide its services. The benefit to the business is a reduction in labor costs and access to skilled labor with a very slight risk of language or cultural barriers.

Nearshore call center outsourcing is when a business selects a company in a country nearby the country where the business is located. Typically, businesses that choose this option experience slightly greater cost savings over the onshore option and have similar access to skilled labor with reduced risk of language and cultural barriers.

Offshore call center outsourcing involves a business selecting a company in a foreign country to provide services despite the strong possibility that agents will speak a different language than that of the business’ customers. While this strategy usually offers the highest cost savings and access to skilled labor, the risk of language and cultural barriers is higher.

However, this risk can be mitigated for US-based businesses depending on the country selected to provide outsourced call center services. Currently, more than 38.3 million people in the US speak Spanish in their homes – a figure that is more than twice that of 1990, according to the American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau. Given this statistic, it’s easy to see why Nicaragua and Peru are becoming the countries of choice for businesses that outsource their call centers offshore.

With populations that include large numbers of English-speakers who are very familiar with US culture, these countries are fast becoming an alternative to Asian countries for quality call center services with as much as a 50% cost reduction over onshore options. Both Nicaragua and Peru are also the answer to providing bilingual services to customers as the countries and companies who do business there properly train a willing workforce that shows no signs of dissipating.

Wherever You Want to Be, Responsive Call Centers Can Help

Responsive Call Centers’ near and offshore call centers provide exceptional service thanks to our specially selected personnel. Our representatives in the US and Latin America are fluent English and Spanish speakers. Every offshore international call center representative is tested for proficiency in English and Spanish, including reading and writing skills, fluency and pronunciation. They’re tested after an intense three-week training program to ensure they can respond to US-based customers both in the English and Spanish language.

Considering nearshore or offshore call center solutions for your growing business? If so, contact the team at Responsive Call Center today to discuss the many options available to you.