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.

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.

It’s Time to Comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation

It's Time to Comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation

Even though all companies doing business with residents of the European Union (EU) will need to comply with its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 25, 2018, most will miss that deadline, according to a recent survey of corporate tech decision makers conducted by Crowd Research Partners.

The survey also found that only 7% of companies it surveyed report being in compliance with the regulation that requires substantial protection for the personal data of EU residents and thorough notification to them if that data is breached. And 28% have not even begun the work to be GDPR compliant by the deadline, the research found.

The high cost of GDPR compliance is likely one reason for corporate inaction. According to respondents to PwC’s survey of thousands of businesses that operate in the EU more than 77% of companies plan to allocate $1 million or more on GDPR compliance and compliance efforts – with 68% saying they will invest between $1 million and $10 million and 9% expecting, to spend over $10 million to address GDPR obligations.

However, ignoring GDPR compliance can bring stiff fines from EU officials: Penalties can run as high as 4% of an enterprise’s worldwide financial revenue. Those working to be compliant are investing resources in initiatives that include Privacy Shield and binding corporate rules, as well as model contracts for EU cross-border compliance. They are also centralizing data centers in Europe and de-identifying European data to reduce their GDPR risk exposure.

Businesses affected by the GDPR specifically include all companies that do business in the EU; companies that process the data of EU residents with more than 250 employees; and companies with less than 250 employees whose data processing rights impact the rights and freedoms of data subjects on a more than occasional basis and include certain types of sensitive personal data, in other words, any company that does business with an EU resident in any shape or form.

The type of identity information the GDPR requires businesses to protect includes name, address and ID numbers; web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags; health and genetic data; biometric data; racial or ethnic data; political opinions; and sexual orientation.

GDPR compliance also specifies the roles that are responsible for ensuring compliance as the data controller, data processor, and the data protection officer. The data controller defines how personal data is processed and the purposes for which it is processed. The controller is also responsible for making sure that outside contractors comply.

In addition, companies need to make certain that their data management vendors are compliant. The EU considers vendors an extension of the companies they work with for the purpose of gathering, storing and protecting their data and managing data breaches. This means that all company contracts with vendors must be updated to reflect that systems and practices have been put in place to comply with the GDPR. As with individual businesses’ contracts, these vendor contracts need to define consistent processes for how data is managed and protected, and how breaches are reported.

“Organizations should not see [GDPR compliance] as just a regulatory compliance program,” said Peter Gooch, cyber risk services partner at Deloitte. “Having the right privacy requirements embedded into an overall customer engagement strategy can also be a competitive advantage. All businesses rely on consumer loyalty. A breach can put the company’s existence at risk.”

Your Answering Tone – Why It Matters and How We Can Help

Why Answering Tone Matters

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Maya Angelou

First impressions can make or break a customer relationship. When your initial opportunity to connect with a customer happens over the phone, certain standards need to be upheld for a successful impression to be made. An answering service may just be the answer to establishing consistent quality call management in your business. Remember, it’s not only what you say but how you make the customer feel by your tone, attentiveness and ability to respond, effectively.

What is “Tone”?

Tone as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is, “A quality, feeling, or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing.” For instance, a salesman may provoke excitement and loyalty in a new customer by cheerfully offering an insider discount or deal as if he were a close friend. In this same line of thought, a customer support representative could let out a huge sigh or respond in a low, monotone voice, indicating exhaustion, frustration or boredom caused by the customer’s inquiry. Either way, positive or negative, the vibe given off will be felt by the customer and, ultimately, will determine whether or not he or she returns.

The Impact of Tone on Customer Satisfaction

“In the first survey conducted by Software Advice, 65% of customers preferred their support staff to have a “casual” tone”. The use of natural, less formal language, including contractions and exclamations, can be a major benefit over the phone, according to statistics, but it is also a safe route to maintain a neutral tone. Human connection and the ability to relate to customers on a personal level helps gain trust and cooperation in service support situations. A common tip for a top-notch phone voice is to smile while speaking; your smile will be reflected in your tone to the customer. In addition, there is a tone for each specific scenario. For example, if a customer is angry, a call representative would not want to laugh or crack jokes. The easier it is for the customer to gain acknowledgment through tone signifiers that he or she has been heard and is on the way to a solution, the higher acquisition and retention rates will be.

Conquer Quality Call Management

One highly ranked option to ensure consistent quality call management in your business is to employ an answering service, such as Responsive Call Center, to handle incoming and outbound customer calls, around-the-clock. Answering service professionals are highly trained on phone etiquette and customer satisfaction, and reps are an actual extension of your brand and provide customer confidentiality. Are you on top of your team’s tone?  Request a free consultation from Responsive Call Center today!

5 Things to Look for in a Call Center

Things to Look for in a Call Center

We all know how frustrating it can be to be put on a lengthy hold. No one enjoys waiting on the phone to speak with someone when there is a pressing need or concern. However, making your employees bounce between providing customer service in addition to completing their job can result in unanswered calls, rushed responses and uncompleted tasks. These problems can damage your customer rapport and ultimately hurt your company. Outsourcing your calls to a call center alleviates a lot of stress on your company and provides customers with the individualized attention they want and need. Finding the right call center can be quite tricky, as the differences between various companies lies in the services offered. By hiring a call center, you are creating an extension of your company; be sure to select a call center that understands the needs of your company and your customers.

Tips for Finding the Right Call Center

Take a look at these 5 tips for finding the right call center for your business:

1. Variety of Call Services
Finding the right call center service provider has a lot to do with finding a company that is specialized in a variety of services. You want to make sure the company you select can offer the services that match your company today and can keep up with your company’s future growth. Look for a company that offers Inbound Services such as customer service, order management and CRM systems, as well as Outbound Services such as quality assurance, telemarketing, credit card processing and employment screening. By hiring a company that offers both inbound and outbound services, you are assuring a long-term relationship and consistency for your clientele; both of which promote customer loyalty and drive your business toward success.

2. CRM Loyalty Call Center Services
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions help call center agents connect to clients by accessing the correct information and knowledge about a customer’s history in order to ensure customer satisfaction. This provides call center agents the tools to understand your customers and meet their needs quickly and efficiently. There are many different platforms for CRM and finding a call center that offers customized CRM platform options and can integrate with your existing company platform is vital. By employing a call center who can seamlessly join your company, you can improve your company without changing it.

3. More than Calls
Find a company that offers more than call services in handling customers. Some call centers offer services such as database management. This means that the call center is doing more than just answering or making calls; they are analyzing calls and providing insight about your customers for your company. By hiring a call center that offers database management, you are helping your company improve your customer base by creating segmentation models that enable targeted marketing campaigns. This can also improve customer retention rates by studying customer behavior and satisfaction. Other services such as lead screening, fulfillment services, and credit card processing can greatly improve customer satisfaction as well.

4. Human Capital
Be certain that the call center you hire employs agents that are constantly trained and updated in call center service skills, product knowledge and business understanding programs. These agents should also be in close contact with supervisors who are well versed in problem resolution and effective management. Find a call center that consistently examines and evaluates service representatives to ensure proper training, knowledge of your company and how to tend to your customers. Finding a center with onshore representatives in addition to bilingual representatives promotes customer comfort and acquisition.

5. Experienced and Prepared
Finally, consider qualities in a call center that would ensure your company is properly cared for during emergencies. Find a company that is experienced and prepared. Your services need to be available 24/7 regardless of emergencies. While hiring a call center to handle customer support alleviates your work load, it also places a lot of responsibility in someone else’s hands. Find out whether the call center offers several onshore and offshore locations and can continue to function despite natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes in case services need to be transferred temporarily. Make sure the call center offers recovery strategies and recovery teams as well should emergencies such as fire or flood occur.

Responsive Call Center has 40 years of experience managing inbound calls as well as outbound call center services such as telesales, telemarketing, lead and employment screening, credit card processing and disaster recovery among other services. Responsive employs specially trained agents available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in several call center locations across the United States in addition to international call center operations. They offer state of the art technology through telecommunications hardware and software solutions as well as customer management, database management and fulfillment and order tracking. Contact Responsive Call Center to help you improve customer satisfaction and growth today!

Professional Phone Skills

Professional Phone Skills

A customer contacts your firm; their first impression of your corporation is typically made by the receptionist or representative. It is their job to uphold a professional appearance throughout the entirety of their job tasks. Answering the phone is just one of the many tasks in which they are assigned to, but it is the most important.

Some representatives are born with the natural talent to engage clients where it matters most. While others have to work a bit more to effortlessly come off as friendly and helpful. Here is a guideline of professional phone skills to help those strive at providing quality assistance.

1.       Timely Manner

Whether it is a receptionist or virtual office assistant taking calls, it is important to always be on time and answer the call within the first two-to-three rings. A customer that calls and allows the phone to continuously ring is probably not going to leave a voicemail. This means that new business is potentially lost and your reliability has sunk. The more reliable the business, the better chance customers will use your services.

2.       Be Polite

Every customer that calls is a VIP customer. You want to greet and assist the 1000th caller the same as you did with the very first client you ever spoke to; professionally and pleasantly.

The top five phrases, from 2014, that customers hope to hear from your company include:

  • Let me take care of that for you.
  • I’m not sure, but I’ll find out for you.
  • I’m sorry.
  • Thank you for contacting us. How can I help you?
  • I see you’ve been a customer for many years. Thank you for your loyalty.

These are simple phases, but the reality of it is, your client is a human being and they should be treated as though their business matters to you.

3.       Listen Carefully and Stay Organized

This skill is key to success. Clients do not call to get the run-around. Make sure to take detailed notes and practice active listening. Make sure to focus on what the caller is saying and determine what the best action is, whether it is to transfer the customer to another department or quickly assist right-then-and-there.

4.       Communicate Effectively

Do not speak to quickly nor to slowly. Do not mumble; rather speak with confidence and clarity. Do not use slang words or company jargon. Adjust your tone and pitch to ensure that you are willing to help and serve this customer. As well, a skill that you can easily implement is to speak with enthusiasm and at a comfortable pace.

5.       Verify

If you need clarification or are taking down important information, always take a moment to repeat what was indicated and verify if it was incorrect. This includes the phone number, address, credit card information, current issue and so on, depending on situation.

6.       Rules of Hold

Before placing a customer on hold make sure to ask the customer for permission. If the client agrees to the hold, the customer is not meant to bewaiting for long, extended periods of time. In fact, if you are planning to have the client on hold for even more than 2 minutes, you should ask the customer if it is more convenient to call the customer back once you know more information. One minute can feel like forever, and a client’s time is precious; this is an important skill to always implement.

7.       Thank you

A skill used in professional etiquette is to always thank the customer.

8.       Best Face forward

Customers want to feel that they are welcomed. Put a smile on, even while on a phone. It is guaranteed that that small amount of positive energy will be transmitted through the phone line.
It is important to go above and beyond for a client regardless if it is on the phone or in person. Follow this guideline of professional phone skills to boost the customer experience. For further assistance in providing an outstanding first impression to your clients, contact us today for your free quote!