How long have you worked in the call center business? A couple of months? Or may be even years? Whatever the case may be, you are bound to have seen quite a few changes taking place. That is pretty normal considering the fact that developments and innovations are taking place every day. It would be quite difficult to point out the best contact center software solutions to you, for new technologies are coming up almost each day.
When you think of a call center, you must be imagining a brick and mortar office, with a bunch of agents sitting around and calling up customers or handling the incoming calls from customers. Well, the notion of call center or customer care still remains that in the 21st century, only with a few minor changes. You would agree when we say that the internet has entirely taken over our daily lives. It may be a clichéd line, but that’s only because it is true.
The easy availability of the internet has made possible virtual contact center software or virtual customer care. You might say that customer care was virtual anyway till a few years back, because you didn’t actually meet the agents face to face. However, nowadays, all customer care operations can be carried out through the net. How cool is that?!
But you know how people are? There are always going to be naysayers who’ll emphasize on the countless benefits brick and mortar traditional call centers present. Yes, we will never deny that; however, it is important to embrace the new and upcoming as well. Virtual contact centers have their own set of perks; plus, they are new – which automatically makes them a whole lot more exciting.
We wouldn’t suggest virtual contact centers if we didn’t think it would work wonders for you. Virtual contact centers have helped numerous businesses, especially small scale ones. They get the same level of services at nearly half the cost. What could be better than that? Truth be told, virtual call center software has revolutionized the field completely and has even introduced some benefits we didn’t even know existed.
Think about it, you no longer need an office to work out of. You are no longer geographically limited to one location only. Do you realize what that means? It means you’re free to design and expand your business as you please. No fears and inhibitions to get in the way.
But if you are indeed considering opting for virtual call center solutions, then there are a few things you need to know about it beforehand. Moreover, you need to study these perks and advantages thoroughly to gain a better understanding before you take the plunge. So here goes:
1) Virtual call center software solutions pave the way for remote call center reps. Remote agents would refer to agents who can work from home. Remote agents are now becoming increasingly popular in call centers owing to the number of benefits they offer. For instance, remote agents would eliminate the need for an office altogether. You could have ten or fifteen agents logged in at the same time and each in charge of a number of customers.
2) In the case of an emergency, what is your biggest fear? It is losing all your precious data which is a must while you deal with customers. However, the risk is more when it comes to manually saving and organising data. In virtual call center management software, the data is saved in the system. And you’ll be glad to know that recovery of lost data is the speciality of the virtual call center software. Disaster management thus becomes extremely easy and accessible for your call center as well.
3) What is the one thing that irks you the most about software and technology? The sheer number of times you will have to update the software. Are we right? Well yes, upgrading can be a pain when it comes to software. But lucky for you, virtual call center software comes with speedy updates. Whenever there is a new update available you will be notified instantly. As and when is convenient for you, you can upgrade your software for a better and enhanced functioning.
4) The worst part about most contact center software solutions is that you have to invest a lot when it comes to infrastructure costs. By the time you are done, you are left with almost nothing to spend on something else. However, with virtual contact center software, your infrastructure costs and your overhead costs are reduced to a great extent – almost nonexistent. You wouldn’t have to spend much on the software, the installation or even the upgrading.
5) Virtual customer care software basically allows you to provide customized solutions for your customers. When you are choosing your software for the call center, you must get one that is flexible and scalable at the same time. The kind of software you use should go with the kind of business you are running. Moreover, the software should be flexible enough to change according to the changing needs of your business.
6) We have already discussed how a modern “virtual” call center allows you to make use of the best call center software and how you can use remote agents to deal with customers. While that is a benefit in itself, virtual call centers demand that you build the software from the very roots. That strengthens your infrastructure to a great extent. And how does that help you, you may ask? Well, it actually gives you a unique quality called “ technological preparedness” – this means that you better equipped to deal with emergencies in the future.
7) If you have been working in this field for long, you should be familiar with the concept of ROI. It is a well known fact that the usage of virtual contact center software will help in boosting employee productivity. And when that happens, it automatically enhances the overall efficiency of the call center. That means you would easily be able to switch between the outbound and inbound calls at your call center. You would also be able to satisfy your customers better.
8) Let’s now come to one of the most obvious benefits of virtual call centers. That would be the geographical barriers which are demolished. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a remote corner of the world. As long as you can access the internet and have your data with you, you can run the call center from anywhere. Geographical locations were quite the inconvenience earlier – agents had to travel miles to just reach the office. Now, they can do so from wherever they please. This automatically enhances the efficiency levels as well.
9) Customers want customer care reps who can understand their problem, work on solutions and deliver answers in a timely and efficient manner. All of the above can be provided by virtual call center software. We won’t lie to you – research and statistics have shown that customer satisfaction rates are higher when it comes to virtual contact center solutions than your traditional customer care. After all, isn’t that what matters the most?
10) In most software solutions, adding new agents is a herculean task. You have to undergo a lengthy procedure to do so. But then again, if you don’t add agents to your team, how are you going to make progress? That is another thing you don’t need to worry about with virtual contact center software. Adding any agent, irrespective of their location, becomes really easy in this case. The integration of the software makes it scalable and it grows with your company.
11) When it comes to your software technology, the one thing that you must ensure above everything else is the reliability or the security aspect of it. Your database is going to have a horde of numerous kinds of information – which may range from trivial data to confidential data of your customers. You absolutely cannot risk losing such data or having your system crash. That is indeed your worst nightmare. However, there is something you could do. The virtual contact center software is probably one of the best examples of a secured software technology.
12) Adaptability is a major advantage of using the call center software in this case. Each business is unique in its own way. Most importantly, your needs and requirements are bound to change with each passing day. Whatever you had in mind for your business last year must have changed completely this year. Thus, you require a kind of software application that adapts with you. It should be able to grow with you, expand as your company reaches the zenith.
13) Emergencies are pretty common when you are thinking of customer care. Here is a list of some common emergencies that you may face at your call center – your system may crash or be out of service for a whole day. You could lose your data. Your services could be down due to some unforeseen circumstances. Whatever the case might be, your customer care shouldn’t be affected. And that is only possible if you use virtual call center software. This kind of software prepares you for any kind of emergency. It equips you to deal with them better and more efficiently.
14) When you implement a new software technology at your call center, one important question that arises is, “will your agents be able to handle it?” After all, they are the ones who would be handling the software in the first place. But don’t worry. The virtual customer care software is not only extremely user friendly but also comes with easy training programs. Your agents could take part in, learn the ropes and study it thoroughly. It shouldn’t take them too much time to understand how the software works and how to make the most out of it.
15) It is estimated, that in the next few years, telecommunication will entirely be replaced by social media or by web chat. Customers would rather talk to the customer care reps online or chat with them than actually call them up. Thankfully, the virtual call center software that you see in the market makes web chat seem like a piece of cake. If you manage to get your hands on the latest or modern versions of the contact center software, you will be able to use web chat to communicate with your customers easily.
16) Omnichannel customer care is the latest trend right now. There used to be a time when customers could only reach out to customer care reps through phone calls. But that is not the case anymore. Today, you have social media (and the various social media platforms), you have email, you have web or live chat and you have sms. These are just a few options you have. The best part about virtual customer care is that you get to provide an all round service, including all the myriad channels without it getting messed up or problematic.
17) Virtual customer care software allows you to analyse your agents’ performance with ease. Be it remote agents or your traditional agents, you need to know if they are working efficiently. This is all the more important in the case of remote agents since you wouldn’t be supervising them all the time. Virtual contact center software basically allows you to keep a tab on the overall performance of your agents and figure out where they’re going wrong.
18) The software technology doesn’t cost as much as you think it would. If you take a look at virtual call center software pricing, you will see how cheap it really is. It hardly costs more than your regular traditional software. If you were paying an amount of X for your regular software, why not spend a tad bit more and get the latest version of the best call center software? You will not only get the best possible software technology but will get a horde of benefits along with it!
19) Well, now you know why virtual call centers are taking over the business. But what you must remember is that there are several kinds of software available in the market. Why, you will find different kinds of virtual contact center software in the market! How do you know which one is right for you? What does your business need? Are you getting the right software at the best prices? If you have certain doubts in your mind, do not hesitate to indulge in a bit of call center software comparison. It always helps you make the right choice.
The case study
By now, we have told you what a virtual call center is all about and how a virtual call center can come to your aid. But there are some things you need to remember; before you actually take the plunge and have the software installed at your call center, you need a wholesome knowledge of how it works, what it does and what it would mean for your business – hence the need for a detailed case study.
Here, we have provided you with a proper case study which depicts a company who used the virtual call center software. We have studied all their steps in great detail and have even analysed them. We went to great lengths to analyse why the company in question decided to opt for such a virtual call center software solutions and how it affected them in the long run.
Travel agencies are rapidly gaining popularity today; that is probably because most people would rather book their vacations online through travel agencies which are cheaper and a whole lot more convenient. Icruise.com is one such travel agency with a huge customer base. Their exemplary service in all the spheres have helped them score brownie points with several customers. For instance, stats show that the company serves nearly 80,000 customers each year. So you can very well imagine the stress and pressure the call center guys are under each day every year. So let’s take a look at some of the steps taken by the company.
The final outcome
When it comes to booking your vacations online, people feel the need to communicate with someone in charge directly. They might have certain queries and doubts that they need to clarify before confirming the booking. A careful research showed that only about 20 % customers actually book their tickets online without any form of direct (voice, onsite) interaction with the company. The rest of the 80 % feel the need to consult with a call center agent before they book the tickets.
At icruise.com, the company has expanded from about five employees to nearly 120 employees. Out of these some hundred employees, about half of them are working remotely. That means, they usually work from the comfort of their own homes.
However, the issue was something else altogether. The company had a PBX software technology that was rooted to the headquarters. It was restricted geographically. While all that was fine, it also restricted the growth of the company as a whole. Plus, this didn’t allow for call recording and call reporting either. These cost too much and was too much of a hassle.
There was another issue at hand. The headquarters of the company was located in one of the most well known hurricane belts in the country. As a result, every time there is a storm of some kind, the headquarters end up losing power. That leads your system to crash and you already know what that means. Also, the company didn’t have a legit emergency plan in place for when such situations may arise.
Naturally, it was important to shift to a more modernised and better developed call center software solutions that would help eradicate the above problems. Basically, the company was looking for a better and more enhanced communications system. After pouring through the sales pitches of various vendors, icruise.com finally decided on a communications package that was the real deal.
The new contact center software solutions adopted by the company offered the following fab features – it allows for outbound and inbound calling, click to call services, live chat et cetera. Plus, you also get live routing solutions to make sure your customers hang up satisfied.
The new kind of virtual call center software that was implemented made it further possible to track effectiveness. Earlier, it was nearly impossible to track the effectiveness of the employees and overall call center. However, the new kind of software that the company used allowed them to make the most of the metrics and analytics that will help you track the overall efficiency rate of employees.
The click to call services and the broadcasting messaging services that were provided helped in increasing the sales rates per employee. Now that the employees here have all the various information and data at their fingertips, they would be able to represent the products better and in a more convincing way that definitely wins over customers. If your customers know your products better and know about the little details about the services or products, then that would lead to a sure increase in your sales rates.
We are all pretty familiar with impatient customers. They are the worst, absolutely! They do not want to listen to reason and want exceptional services immediately. However, the news software technology that was adopted by icruise.com helped them provide better service to impatient customers as well. Handling such customers is a trick that requires the all round support of a well-equipped software technology. That is exactly what icruise.com got with its version of the virtual contact center software.
Virtual call center software is really one of the best things to have happened to the field of customer care. It allows your agents to work remotely from the comfort of their own home, comes with features like live chat calling and call recording, allows for tracking effectiveness and so on. If you are still waiting around wasting time, then hurry up and get your own software technology today!
[Case Study] How to Turn Your Call Center into a Virtual Contact Center?
We have shown you the list of benefits that can be achieved if proper software is used. To increase functionality and productivity of the call center, it is important to use the call center software that is correct for your company.
I say ‘correct’ because it is impossible for a company to have problems that all stem from the software. Therefore, before taking the important step of changing your software, you should always be alert to the various other problems that your company may have.
Using the wrong call center software can end up doing more harm than good.
But, the question that now arises, is how do you even decide what is beneficial for your company, and what is not? How do you determine what call center software solutions will be the perfect solution to your problems?
The first step to this solution is to look carefully at what your current software does. Then, you should make a list of the things that you want your software to be doing.
Finally, to round off your research, you should look for examples from companies who used call center solutions and how they benefitted from it.
Before you determine what you need, I would advise you to carefully assess your current environment, and compare it with a company whose environment is the same as yours.
Their success stories can be your success story too, if you follow their examples about how using the best call center software for their company has changed their working methods for the better.
In order to help you with this process, I shall now present to you a case study from a company named PSK, named so for the sake of anonymity. PSK is a travel agency, offering their customer services online.
In this case study, we will learn about the problem scenario which arose in the company, the challenges that the company faced, the solutions that the managers of the company decided on, and the ultimate results that were received by the company.
The Problem Scenario
PSK is a company that is known amongst its customers as one of the best agencies for travel related booking. It offers its services online and via a mobile app, enabling customers to find better hotels at cheaper costs, better travel facilities and so on.
PSK serves over one lakh customers per year, which is the huge thing for a company that started out as a startup effort.
While the business was flourishing, online studies have shown that there was only forty percent of the customers who were actually using PSK for travel booking and still opting for the conventional means.
This was a waste of potential and the company wanted to tap into the future customers.
Paired with this desire was a problem, however. In order to successfully extend the horizon and get more people engaged with the company, they needed a virtual call center software that was not geographically restricted.
Having a travel agency be geographically restricted was stopping the company from growing.
The company wanted a software that would help them grow and yet be cost effective. They observed the working of their call center for over two months and came up with a list of challenges that they thought were hampering the growth of the company.
• They looked for a call center software that was modernized to suit their company style. It should be easy to use by everyone and cost effective at the same time.
• The company was looking for a proper call center management software that would effectively keep a track of the metrics and the analytics that would help their agents to deal with regular and important customers in a better fashion.
• They wanted a call center software that will help them track overall efficiency in terms of the number of calls that were successfully obtained, the number of calls that were unsuccessful, and call that never made it due to the queue. They wanted a system that would keep track of agent performance in a better fashion.
• Obviously, they wanted a call center software that would help them extend their geographical reach better. This would ensure that the company was reaching out to potential customers from different states as well.
After observing the call center and customer service team for a period of two months, the company came up with a list of solutions that the company decided to implement and test out.
Before doing this, however, they changed to a better and a modern call center software to completely overhaul the system.
The solutions as determined by the company are:
• The new software was modern. It was well programmed to do the task from a fresher and newer perspective. Therefore, it was also quite cost effective.
• It not only kept track of the metrics and analytics, but also provided call recording and live feedback that would immensely help the agents at the desk.
• It prevented call droppings. If the agents were not available, it successfully managed to play a customized reply to the customer to hold on, or try again in a while. This helped the company keep a track of the agents.
• It met with their demand of having a wider geographical reach. Customers from different regions felt no longer excluded. The number of customer for the company swelled considerably due to this fact.
Earlier, the company had difficulty in tracking customer calls and agent performance, leading to confusion. Now, it was properly regulated and worked without any manual interruption.
Since it was geographically reaching, it helped agents who worked from home to have the same features as those working from the office. The whole experience was smoother and better.
A proper call center can make your company stronger and better in more than one ways. It is really the core of any call center company, therefore a deep thought must be given before the final selection.
You should be open to experimenting with the variety of software available in the market, and tweak the system to get maximum results.