Contact centers have assumed utmost importance in the business operations of large and small scale businesses over the past two decades.
Companies have realized the importance of having the dedicated personnel to handle communications.
For larger companies, it takes the load off their shoulders and allows them to outsource their huge bulk of calls and customer interactions.
For smaller companies, it allows the core group to focus on development of products, so that they can grow in the market. All in all, call centers serve the very important purpose of acting as the interface between the customer and the organization.
A virtual call center is a phone support system that offers businesses a virtual representation of their offices.
In other words, instead of the typical building with call center agents crammed in to take care of communications, a virtual call center allows its agents to work from their homes and communicate with a centralized server so that the team is wary of developments, and managers can keep a track of the work being done.
The virtual call center model has a whole lot of advantages.
Instead of a physical office space, it utilizes cloud storage to centralize data storage, and saves up on operational costs. It also relieves the company of geographical boundaries while hiring agents, because they will work from home anyway.
In addition, it gives them more diversity, which is always a benefit especially for the larger companies who are serving the international clients.
This in turn increases the customer’s confidence in your business.
In this article, we will talk about the ways that virtual call centers make business easier, allow people to work from home and contribute to an increase in productivity.
1. Saves operational costs.
Not relying on a physical office space brings with it a lot of savings in operational costs. The company can cut short the costs of required setup and supplies, building rent, fixed costs like equipment, paying for storage, physical amenities and other lease costs.
All that is required is the equipment to track and monitor the work of remote systems and ensure that all the relevant data is available at a server for easy retrieval and management.
This not only brings down the costs by a significant margin, it also reduces the hassle that a company has to face in its day to day operations, be it in terms of maintaining legality, custodial expenses, ensuring environments of workers, etc.
2. Allows employees flexibility.
One of the leading concerns of employees in call center jobs is the lack of flexibility that their job allows.
With virtual call centers, employees get to work from home.
This means that they not only get to attend their duties at home more easily, they can also choose their shifts in advance to ensure that their personal lives are not too disrupted by their job.
This significantly improves employee satisfaction levels, and prevents agent attrition, which is otherwise one of the biggest concerns that call centers have with regards to their employees.
Allowing your employees the flexibility they want also helps you find out the employees who put in extra effort when they can and determine your assets.
3. Hiring from a wider applicant pool.
Call centers are often hamstrung by their limitations in hiring agents.
You have to take into account only those people living in the same city, or at least nearby.
Virtual call centers allow an international pool of applicants if necessary, beyond any territorial boundaries, so that you can have the pick of the best agents available.
Not only is this a boon for the company, the applicants also get a shot to work with the biggest names in the business if they are good enough, regardless of where they are from.
There is no difficulty in monitoring the work of people who live miles away, and there is no difference in the approach of doing so with one agent who resides in the same city, and another in a different country altogether.
4. Managers can track every details.
When all the work is done digitally, every action leaves a trace that can later be tracked if necessary.
The process becomes more transparent, and managers get a better picture of what is going right or wrong with the strategies being followed.
Using software, virtual call centers are more effective in determining and monitoring the key performance indicators of the business for each and every individual employee.
Agents are always accessible online, so managers can also give them prompt feedback on their actions, which leads to more dynamic corrections if required.
5. Customers relate better to diverse agents.
If you are a large organization, you are likely serving customers in multiple nations, where each nation has its own quirks and uniqueness.
Customers from a particular country often tend to relate better to agents from that country itself.
This helps to establish a relationship of trust effectively, and ultimately leads to better sales and quality of service.
Therefore, it is a good idea to hire agents from those countries where get you the most business, so that customers can relate better and be more comfortable while talking to your agents.
This is only possible if your employees work remotely, in a virtual call center setup.
6. Round the clock service.
Again, for companies serving international clients, you have to work by their time zones, not yours.
Which means, you might have to schedule enough agents round the clock, including night shifts, to deal with the volume of calls coming in.
This could be a challenge for a traditional call center, but for virtual call centers you could ensure one of two things.
Either you could have international agents for whom the time zones align with your customers, or you could have dedicated agents working through the night from home.
Either way, virtual call centers make it easier for you to provide 24*7 support, which is necessary to progress in the market.
7. Full use of technology.
Virtual call centers allow companies to harness the power of technology to make operations more efficient and cut down on costs without compromising on quality.
By using the software, you can simulate the working environment with remote systems, all connected to each other for fast data sharing and information retrieval.
Moreover, using technology in this regard helps to get work done faster because your colleagues are always available online in case you need to communicate, any relevant information is available on your browser, help lines can be contacted if you are out of your depth, reminders and alarms are set in place to keep your work on track, and your own performance evaluation is available for you to improve upon.
8. More productive agents.
Happy agents are productive agents.
In a virtual call center scenario, not only are employees happier with their job profiles owing to the ability to work from home, have flexible times, get information at their fingertips and work according to their benefits, they are also equipped with the technology necessary for them to do their best work – be it in terms of extensive analysis on data, easy to use interfaces for their platforms, mechanisms like auto-dialers and predictive models, etc.
All of this combined, ensures a spike in productivity and leads to agents being able to provide a better quality of service.
The Case Study
In this article so far, we have talked about on what is a virtual call center , how it differs from the traditional version of a call center, what business benefits it can bring, the call center software that it involves and why it should be implemented.
We have also spoken on the effect it has on the customers in terms of gaining their trust and making them comfortable, as well as on agents by giving them room and keeping them satisfied.
The call center software solutions that are implemented in virtual call centers are easy to use interfaces, so the agents are able to work on the platform easily and navigate through all the options that are available.
There is a help mechanism in place for experts to step in, in case of any errors or confusion.
The system is built to be self explanatory and works according to the parameters that the company has defined.
To shed light on how important these virtual call centers can be, let us turn to a case study featuring a real example of a call center.
For the scope of this case study, Gammon Solutions is a telemarketing agency providing call center solutions for an established organization.
This case study will progress through the problem scenario and the challenges faced by the company, to studying the solutions they drew up and how these changes led to a growth in business.
The Problem Scenario
Gammon Solutions had been operational for more than 10 years.
In that time, they had grown from being a fairly local initiative to now becoming a truly global organization.
With this growth, however, came a massive increase in the customer base, and it was becoming difficult for the call center to manage the volume and diversity of queries coming in, and make effective marketing strategies.
They were looking to utilize telemarketing software solutions to diversify their efforts and cater to people more efficiently.
The problems that the company faced are listed below.
1. Scheduling and staffing was an issue because the call center needed to provide support round the clock, but it became difficult for them to find willing employees working at odd hours in that sort of volume.
2. The costs associated with housing that many employees were running too high, and were starting to cause an effect on the company profits. Moreover, expansion became an issue because it would prove to be so expensive.
3. The company could only hire agents within the locality, which limited its scope for improvement, and it hindered their chances of competing with bigger companies elsewhere.
4. The software they were using was not enough to deal with the volume and variety of data being flooded in and as such, led to inefficient reporting and pegged them back.
The managers at the company chalked up the following solutions to help them deal with the challenges that they faced.
1. They opted for a virtual call center setup, so that people could work from home for the different shifts and be more comfortable in case their shifts did not fall in the regular business hours.
2. Agents were asked to work from remote devices at home, which slashed costs associated with maintaining a physical office space.
3. The company invested in the best call center software to deal with the data they produced and draw out more efficient patterns and models from that data.
4. The company could now hire talents from anywhere in the world, which allowed them to get the best agents available and further boosted their productivity.
Once the initial investments with regards to purchasing and implementing latest technology, connecting remote devices to the network, providing training to the agents on how to go about the new platform and setting up monitoring devices and metrics was complete, operations progressed much faster, more smoothly and more efficiently.
Within the next year, all these surplus costs had been regained and over the next two years, the company saw unprecedented increase in the profit margins.
Customers were also more satisfied with the quality of service they received, and as a result the company continued to grow and gain reputation.
Thus, we can see how virtual call centers are the likely progression in the future.
They are more financially efficient, allow freedom to the employees, keep a good check on the quality of work and allow operations to occur more conveniently.
The advantages highlighted here also point towards the virtual call centers as being the better option in terms of getting customers to trust your brand and remain loyal to it.
Therefore, having a virtual call center setup and allowing your employees to work from home can transform your business for the better and help you take the next step.