Choosing the Best Contact Center for Your Business
Identify the needs of your company and your customers to determine if a contact center is effective and efficient for your business.
Articles published November 5, 2019 by Bobbie Jo Barry
Customer service is a commodity. Even if you are outsourcing your customer service to a third-party contact center, you need to be able to trust them to serve as your brand ambassadors. The people who interact with your customers on a daily basis must be friendly, professional, and able to speak with authority on your products or services.
In other words, if you are in the market for a third-party contact center, choose carefully. Identify what your needs are and set out to find the service that can fulfill those needs.
Below, we’ve outlined a number of essential considerations to make in your search.
Why employ a contact center?
There are a number of reasons why a company might opt to outsource their customer service. What’s yours? Consider that you are an expert in your own respective product or service. Why not outsource your customer service to experts in the customer service field? More than a few companies make the mistake of trying to handle everything in-house, rather than outsourcing to experts who can drive efficiencies, provide cost containment, and deliver best practices.
Consider your needs and, more importantly, the needs of your customers. Some companies elect to partner with a contact center because the frequent calls are distracting their employees from their primary responsibilities or diminishing the quality of their work. Others question the quality of customer service they are able to provide with their current in-house workforce.
Ultimately, it comes down to sustaining or increasing productivity and maintaining or improving the level of customer service you are able to provide.
What type of call center?
It is important to distinguish between a contact center and an answering service. The former provides a very simple service. Equipped with a script and basic information about the client, answering service employees can field a high volume of calls and provide general customer support, frequently taking a customer’s name and message for a call back.
Contact centers are more specialized, serving markets that require their employees to have an intimate knowledge of their client’s business. They are often considered a direct extension of their client, and those answering the calls are expected to be subject matter experts.
How is the contact center structured?
Not all contact centers are created equal. This is why it is so important to outline your needs before wading into the open market. Determine whether you need an inbound call service or an outbound call service – or both. Cold calling, conducting surveys, and making follow-up customer calls are among the services that an outbound contact center can provide.
There is also the question of whether you require a contact center with dedicated agents or shared agents. The former are limited to your account and your account alone. You are their entire focus. As subject matter experts educated on your product or service, they can address customer concerns and inquiries with accurate and timely information and support.
Companies that covet consistency and familiarity for their customers tend to prefer dedicated agents. Shared agents, who handle calls from multiple different clients for the contact center, are typically more suited for clients with more general needs that can often be resolved using 10 or less Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
What is their availability, as well? Consider whether you need 24/7 support.
Don’t forget about location, either. Your contact center does not have to share the same location as your company headquarters, but take into account the needs of your infrastructure and where your customers are generally based. This can be especially important in terms of language. If you serve a wide customer base, consider for a call center that employs bilingual team members.
Contact centers located in the Midwest of the United States offer unique benefits for companies. The neutral dialects ensure customers aren’t asking the agents to repeat themselves, and the desire to help others is generally inherent in the values of people born and raised in the Midwest. These are important but often overlooked qualities that must be considered.
What kind of reporting will you be provided?
Make no mistake, the employees of your contact center are your brand ambassadors. They deal directly with your customers, and their interactions can have a sizable impact on how those customers perceive your business. Reporting offers a peek into what those perceptions may be.
Transparency is important. Ask your contact center what type of reporting they can provide. It can range from summaries of each phone call to real-time data analytics, and some even have the ability to customize their reports to deliver data in the format you prefer. There are contact centers that will even provide you with audio recordings of calls for your review.
You should also be asking about their ability to integrate with your customer database. If they can input customer support data into your CRM, that puts more valuable customer information at your fingertips, from their most common pain points to their most frequent inquiries.
What are their policies and procedures?
Every company should be on the same page with their contact center in terms of communication. Even before you’ve started working together, discuss the planning and design of their program, how frequently you’ll be in contact, and what those communications will look like.
Ask about their hiring practices. What technology certifications, language proficiency, and prerequisite experience are required of their employees? How they evaluate their employees internally is also of value to you. Are there metrics used to measure the performance of each employee? Do you value the same performance metrics as the contact center?
Contact center outages directly affect your customers, so be sure to also inquire about their security procedures and privacy policies. How are they storing your data and what security measures are in place to protect that data? Do they have recovery contingencies in place if data is lost, stolen, or corrupted? A disaster recovery plan is essential.
Ready to start the search for your contact center? Connect with Aureon and connect with customer service solutions.