So your business is on the rise, you get more and more customers each month, and people are actively contacting you. Some of them are new prospects, and they want to learn more about your product/service. Others are your existing customers, and they need some advice or help from you as an expert. At first, a mobile phone can be enough to handle all customer queries, but when the amount of calls gets overwhelming, you know it’s time to do something about it, preferably without spending a fortune.
Many business owners are tempted to think it will be enough to hire one person and have them answer calls and messages from customers. You can ask your clients to send you an email or leave a message on Facebook. However, people still prefer to make calls when they have an urgent issue. And at the end of the day, it’s not even about how much one person can handle.
Source: Statista (2016). What are the main drivers of growth within your contact center(s)?
According to the stats, 88% of contact center industry leaders claim customer experience and expectations to be their organization’s main driver of growth. Indeed, if your customer base is large, people will be calling on your inbound line a lot. They will be dialing simultaneously, but they won’t be able to get through all at once if all you have is a mobile phone.
This is a sure way to customer dissatisfaction, and you don’t want that. So here we are again. You do need an IP telephony with multiple channels and a call center software. In fact, it will bring a number of benefits to your company:
● you’ll have your own business phone number;
● you’ll be able to serve multiple clients simultaneously;
● you’ll have a dedicated customer support department, which will release some of your team members from this burden and let them focus on their actual job;
● you’ll enhance your brand image by providing an excellent support;
● you’ll constantly receive new data about your leads and customers, and these are by far not the only advantages.
It all sounds great, but it doesn’t look like something you can get for free. However, if you think that setting up your own call center costs a fortune, you’re plain wrong. Indeed, some 10 years ago companies had to buy a heavy on-premise equipment and hire extra staff to make it work. Now, you don’t even need to have a separate office space.
Setting up a call center with a minimum investment
VoIP technology combined with cloud-based call center software solutions will do the same job for a much lower cost. In case you want to establish a small support department at your office, all you need is to buy a call center software and a couple of PCs with headsets, ensure a stable internet connection, and then hire a few agents. This will already be much cheaper than the entire on-premise facility. To further reduce the cost, you can outsource a support department. This way, you’ll only need to pay for the service of remote agents. However, there’s a small disclaimer. Although outsourcing is great for such services as consulting, receiving applications, identifying needs and making appointments, it’s not very suitable for more complicated processes like sales of sophisticated products.
Most cloud-based solutions for a call center are very reasonably priced. You only pay for what you use, meaning that there are different service packs and payment plans, so your final paycheck is kinda customizable. In addition, cloud telephony software vendors take up the service and customer support of their product for the entire period of your cooperation for free. This minimum assistance will be enough for a small call center.
For a smooth start of a cloud-based call center, you only need to take three basic steps:
– set up a call center software and connect IP telephony;
– integrate a good CRM system;
– hire in-house or outsource a team of enthusiastic and professional agents.
Call center software and basic settings
First, you’ll need to obtain a virtual phone number that you’ll be using as your business line for incoming and outgoing calls. It will enable you to easily take calls from smartphone or browser without the limitations of traditional telephony. Combined with functional software, it will allow you not only to answer multiple customers at once, but also to track call history, record conversations, leave voice messages, and much more. It all depends upon the kind of software you choose.
If you reached the point when you need a call center, this means you have people to serve. Some customers will call you multiple times, and they won’t be very thrilled by having to answer the same questions from agents every time they reach out. That’s why you need to integrate a decent CRM system to keep track of all the customer interactions. It’s great if your call center software supports API integration to coordinate multiple apps, but it’s even better if it already has a built-in CRM.
You can purchase software with all features in the world and integrate a CRM so fine it will automatically send out Christmas cards to all your clients, but it won’t do a thing to your business if you hire the wrong people. No matter whether it’s an outsourced support department or in-house team, you must choose the people who’ll be capable of doing their job well. In reality, it’s almost impossible to find experienced call center agents to match your exact industry, but it is possible to recognize people who are capable of learning, and willing to do so. The essential abilities for a customer support agent include listening skills, patience, positive attitude, and natural communication.
All in all, setting up a call center these days is not as expensive as it seems. With a little research and dedication, you can easily create a great support department that will become a decent face of your business.