Will Technology Kill the Call Center? (Video)

How Technology is Changing the Call Center
Software Advice recently hosted a Google Plus debate called “Will Technology Kill the Call Center?” Representatives from IntelliResponse, Avaya Inc., Drumbi, and Etech Global Services got together to talk about how technology is changing the way customers get in touch with company call centers.  Each of the panelists was asked the following four questions:

  • How have you seen consumer contact channel utilization change in the last decade?
  • What role has technology played in this change?
  • How might technology impact the way customers contact a company in the future, and the kind of service they receive?
  • Will technology eventually render call centers irrelevant?

Click below to watch the entire video debate:

All of the panelists agreed that the growth of contact channels is one of the biggest ways call centers are changing.  For example, customers now have many different options to get in touch with companies outside of voice communication, such as self service, live chat, and virtual agent support.  This is in large part due to the fact that consumers demand instant gratification, and contact centres must meet those expectations.

However, voice is not going away entirely.  As Laura Bassett, the director of customer experience management at Avaya, puts it, “once a customer gets to voice contact, they are at a crucial juncture in the interaction.  The company needs to be much smarter when they get there.”

Therefore, it no longer makes sense for companies to put the lowest cost, lowest skilled people at the front lines of customer service, as was frequently the case in many traditional call centres.  Rather, a company’s very best, most knowledgeable individuals should be available to provide the high levels of service that customers are demanding.

If the customer service function is outsourced, it should be to an outsourced call center that focuses on providing high quality service rather than the lowest possible cost.

If you have any thoughts to share, feel free to leave a comment on the Software Advice blog at Google+ Debate Results: Will Technology Kill the Call Center?

Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Making the Most of Your Call Center Agents

Your call center is a pool of unused talent that can help your growing company with more than just the basics.  While it certainly helps to have a staff on hand to answer calls for your business, call center agents can do a lot more for you if you give them the right training and opportunities.

From basic online marketing to scheduling, you can make better use of these valuable employees, which can save money and bring in new business for your company.

Get Creative

Your call center representatives often have been trained in a variety of tasks beyond their current job duties, including scheduling, marketing, and lead generation.  This makes it easy to use your agents in creative ways around your company.

  • Lead generation: Having your phone representatives generate leads with new customers or upsell current customers can ease the strain on your sales team while maintaining the same amount of sales.  Phone reps can make quick sales themselves in the course of their work or forward customers to your sales team.  If your sales team software is integrated with your call center software, your reps can make better use of leads by inputting them directly into the system.
  • Live Chat: Internet shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from your website if it employs live chat.  Live chat extends your business hours beyond a typical 8-hour day and makes it available to customers in other time zones.  Extending your hours with live chat or having chat live 24 hours a day can help bring in new customers for your business.

Ditch the Script

A great way to improve your call center customer service is to give your agents the freedom to use their own words with your customers.  Customers dislike hearing an obvious script that may not answer their specific questions or needs.

  • Having a script is good for dealing with new or heated customers but can be limiting in other situations.  Give your reps the freedom to use their intuition and knowledge of your company to confidently take their customer service to the next level.
  • Train your reps with a loose script to get them familiar with what you’re looking for in a customer service interaction.  Over time, encourage them to back away from the script and use their own words and knowledge when handling calls.
  • Give your reps guidelines for ways to handle common situations.  If they know their goals for the conversation, they can use the right attitude, verbiage, and objection responses while successfully avoiding a generic script.

Call center agents can bring an impressive array of skills to your business.  Taking advantage of those skills can help you avoid hiring new employees, support your sales team, and greatly expand the flexibility and responsiveness of your customer service.

The preceding blog entry is a guest post by Megan Webb-Morgan, who is a web content writer for Resource Nation.  She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as call center software.  Find Resource Nation on Facebook, too!

What are the most valuable contact centre metrics?

There are a vast number of different reporting metrics available to the modern contact center to help gauge performance; some more valuable than others.  Jonty Pearce of Call Centre Helper online magazine recently conducted a three-month study to determine what contact center professionals considered to be the most important metrics in their customer service operations.

To read the original article upon which this blog post is based, click on the following link (highly recommended!):  The top 10 most important contact centre metrics.

Results of the study were as follows:

  1. Quality Scores: a subjective rating that measures the overall caller experience and how effectively the agent was able to deal with the problem.
  2. First Call Resolution: how many calls it took for a customer to get an issue resolved.
  3. Customer Satisfaction: the percentage of customers that are happy with the service received, generally measured through post-call surveys.
  4. Service Level: the percentage of calls answered within a certain number of seconds (I.e. 80% of calls answered within 20 seconds).
  5. Average Handle Time: the average length of a call from start to finish, including wrap-up and after-call work.
  6. Right Party Connects (outbound): how often the call reached the correct person, as opposed to answering machines, no answers, etc.
  7. Net Promoter: the number of people who would recommend the company’s product/service to others.
  8. Forecast Accuracy: how well contact center predictions lined up with actual results.
  9. Revenue Per Call: a quantification of how much income is generated per call.  More useful for telemarketing/sales calls.
  10. Utilization: total percentage of time an agent is available to take calls, including ready time, talk time and wrap-up time.

Looking at the overall results, there appears to be a shift towards quality of service rather than basic efficiency.  In the past, Average Handle Time was typically the most common judgment of call center effectiveness, but it now only clocks in at #5 overall.  Other historically popular efficiency measurements such as Abandon Rate and Average Speed of Answer did not even make this top ten list at all, while Quality Scores, First Call Resolution and Customer Satisfaction topped the charts.

This shift from general efficiency to quality makes complete sense, as there is growing evidence to suggest that customers are becoming less and less tolerant of poor service, and are more and more willing to publicly complain about a bad experience.  In this vein, the Net Promoter metric is a particularly interesting statistic for companies to measure, especially in this age of social media where a single person can have a wide-reaching impact on a company’s reputation.

Overall, the results of this study indicate that, more and more, contact centers are being thought of as the promotional mouthpiece of the business.  Organizations are recognizing that good customer service can be a powerful tool to build a company’s reputation and drive more sales.  It’s all about keeping customers happy.

Why Talking to Your Customers is More Important Than Ever

* This following blog post is a guest article by Imogen Reed. *

With so much focus on the Internet these days, it’s no surprise that fewer and fewer of us are talking on the phone.  It seems that e-mailing, tweeting, and Facebook messenger are the order of the day.  But in business, it’s not always so clear cut.  In fact, the companies that seem to do the best are those that are able to do a little bit of everything.  So in a world where every business is preoccupied by sending emails, is there a solid gold opportunity to boost your business by actually talking to your customers?

A lost art

There are plenty of people out there who now regard conversation as something of a lost art, and the dominance of the web seems to play no small part in that.  But having a conversation with a real human being is one of the best ways to make progress in business and personal relationships – so why aren’t more companies doing it already?  The telephone is one of the key components of good customer service, and most consumers will tell you that they’d rather speak to a person than send an e-mail any day of the week.  This means a couple of different things for existing companies: first, it means that if you’re not already using the phone as part of your customer service process, you should be.  And second, it means that you can actually gain a competitive advantage by doing so.

Start talking more and get the edge

By now, consumers are used to much customer service being carried out over the Internet.  People are in fact more surprised when a business suggests they give them a call rather than sending an e-mail or using a web form to get in touch.  Even the online ticket systems that apparently make things more efficient can be frustrating and time-consuming to use.  But implement a call center, or a team of phone-based customer service reps, and you’ll find your customer satisfaction skyrockets.  Couple that with the fact that so many other businesses are focused solely on the online field, and you’ve got a recipe for CRM success.  You’ll give often jaded customers a refreshing surprise by offering them a real human being to attend to their issues, rather than a template e-mail which (as we all know) is one of the most impersonal ways to be treated by a business.

The benefits of the spoken word

One of the great things about telephone customer service is that it doesn’t necessarily require any additional work than any other form of customer service.  For example, if a customer sends an e-mail to make a complaint or raise an issue, your company might start acting on it right away, but it could take 48 hours to reply via e-mail.  This can leave the customer feeling frustrated and annoyed.  On the other hand, if that customer is able to pick up the phone and speak to you directly, they’ll feel reassured in the knowledge they actually spoke to somebody about it – even if they leave the conversation with no more info than they started with.

Talk is cheap (and effective)

Considering the huge roster of benefits that telephone customer service can bring, it’s a very affordable solution.  It’ll almost always result in an uplift in customer satisfaction levels, and it’ll improve your reputation.  Plus, you could always combine your use of telephone customer service with its online variants, meaning you’ll have all the bases covered.  After all, it’s always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place, so if one form of customer service ‘goes down’ somehow, the other can pick up the slack.  Why wait for your competitors to get the edge and start speaking to your customers when you can quickly and easily arrange for a team in a call center to be the voice of your company?  In an ever-changing world, speaking to a human being to solve problems will always be the preferable choice for your customers.  So if you’ve spent a good proportion of your company’s history tending to customer concerns only via e-mail and the web, you may well be missing out on a golden opportunity to take your customer service to the next level.

To learn how Tacamor call center agents can help you build better relationships with your customers, contact us today.

What Frustrates Customers Most?

When calling in for customer service, we all have our own individual pet peeves.  For example, some people do not like being put on hold, while others may have trouble with voice recognition systems.  There are many possible things that can turn a consumer off and create a negative impression of the company.

Consumer Tipping Points, a recent benchmarking survey released by ClickFox, indicates the things that create the most frustration for people seeking customer service.

#1.  Having to speak with multiple agents and start over every time (42%):  It is bad enough having to explain your problem in the first place, but being forced to regurgitate the situation to numerous different agents is the single most frustrating thing, according to nearly half of all consumers surveyed.  This commonly happens when the initial agent does not have the ability to resolve the issue, and must escalate the case to a different support level.  Often, he or she will do a cold transfer, which is simply sending the caller on to another agent, essentially starting from scratch.  A more effective solution would be a warm transfer, where the initial agent outlines the problem to the next agent before connecting the caller.  This way, the new agent already has a good handle on the situation, and the caller does not have to repeat him or herself, thus avoiding a lot of unnecessary frustration.  An alternate solution would be to increase the level of training and expertise for front line customer service representatives.  This would give them the ability to solve more problems, thereby reducing the number of different support levels required, and lowering the overall number of transfers in general.

#2.  Being kept on hold for long periods of time or not getting the problem resolved on the first try (17%):  Time is valuable to everyone, and people have better things to do than be kept waiting on the phone.  A customer service call should function like an efficient fast-food drive-thru.  You drive up to the order station (place the call), order your food (explain the problem), pick your meal up at the window (the agent resolves the problem), and drive away (hang up).  Keeping the customer waiting for extended periods during any point of this process can be very annoying.  Also, a customer service representative who does not resolve the issue during the first call would be like a drive-thru attendant forgetting the French fries, forcing the person to go through the drive-thru all over again.

#3.  Rude or inexperienced representatives or difficulty navigating a website (13%):  This one is a no brainer.  Dealing with rude or unpleasant people is never enjoyable, and speaking with agents who do not know what they are doing is not much fun either.  This problem can be remedied by taking the time and effort to hire genuinely nice, friendly people, and by providing adequate training for customer service agents.  Getting the right people in place and getting them prepared for the job will also help cut back on employee turnover, which can be a huge problem in the call center industry.  The other part of this response, difficulty navigating a website, is also very important because visiting the company website is often one of the very first ways that people interact with a business.  Being turned off by an unattractive or convoluted web page may end up deterring many potential customers.  The most effective corporate websites have a clear and logical design, where relevant information is easy to find.

#4.  Frequent service interruptions, or not being understood by IVR/speech recognition applications (12%):  When you pay for something, you expect it to work.  After all, you are giving them your hard-earned money.  It is not unreasonable to expect consistent and reliable service.  However, when it does come time to contact the customer support center, it sometimes can be a chore simply to reach the right person.  A well-designed IVR menu that incorporates some speech recognition can be an effective way to direct callers to the appropriate departments, but a poorly designed system that results in having to constantly repeat answers or that sends callers to the wrong departments, can be hair-pullingly frustrating.

#5.  Long windows to wait for a service technician, and fee/price increases (6%):  Most people have busy schedules, and making someone wait around for an entire morning or afternoon for the repair-person to show up can be a huge hassle.  This is especially frustrating in cases where the technician is unable to make it, and the service appointment needs to be rescheduled for another day, thus wasting even more time for the customer.  The frustration associated with fee/price increases is self-explanatory.  People like to get good value for their money, and frequent cost jumps will urge them towards considering terminating the current service in favor of a competitor.

Understanding the most common sources of customer service frustration is extremely important for all contact centers, both outsourced and in house.  Only by knowing and measuring these key issues can steps be taken to fix the underlying problems, and deliver a better overall customer experience.

So, what do you think is the most frustrating thing about customer service?

 

Building the Perfect Call Center

For building customer loyalty and maintaining an exceptional business reputation, call centers are a critical piece of the puzzle.  Many companies today are seeing the value in having a top-notch customer service operation, recognizing that delivering excellent service is more important than ever before due to the abundance of choices available to the modern consumer, and a growing intolerance for ineptitude.

But, how exactly do you build the perfect customer service call center?

It is certainly not an easy thing to do, which is why more and more businesses are choosing to outsource their call center operations to a dedicated customer service provider.  But regardless of whether a business wants to outsource customer care or keep it entirely in house, there are a few common components that must be in place in order to create a truly exceptional customer service call center.

1.  The Right People:  You can have all the best equipment, technology and procedures necessary to deliver great customer service, but it won’t be worth a darn without a good team of agents working the phones.  Success in the customer service field requires a specific skill set and personality type.  Agents need to be good listeners who are able to understand and diagnose problems, often with limited information.  They also must be able to deal with the occasional angry customer, with the ability to diffuse tension and get to the bottom of an issue without becoming too emotionally involved.  Most importantly, though, they should be genuinely nice people with an overall positive attitude.  A smile can go a long way in the world of customer service, even on the phone.  Finding the right type of people to hire for your customer service call center is not always easy, which is why most call centers have extremely high employee turnover rates.  However, the rewards for building a staff of loyal, skilled and dedicated customer service representatives are immense — a positive and supportive work environment, cost savings from reduced turnover, and most importantly, the ability to provide truly superior customer service that will differentiate you from the competition.

2.  Reliable Infrastructure and Technology:  While at its core talking on the phone or responding to an e-mail may seem to be relatively simple things, there is actually a lot going on in the background at a typical contact center to ensure that everything happens smoothly and efficiently.  There must be a contact management platform in place to direct calls to agents, and the equipment must be good enough to facilitate clear communication back and forth.  Downtime must also be minimized and/or eliminated, because if customers cannot get through to the support line, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will soon go elsewhere, most likely a competitor.  To keep things running smoothly, software and hardware must be regularly maintained and kept up to date, and there should be redundant power and communications systems in place to deal with blackouts, etc.  It is also important to have a skilled and reliable network administrator at the helm to oversee systems operation.

3.  A Detailed Plan:  There are many decisions that must be made in the creation of a customer service strategy.  For example, should a live agent immediately answer all calls, or should an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu be in place to direct calls to the appropriate department?  Because there are different ways to measure customer service, which call center key performance indicators should you focus on?  Is Average Handle Time (AHT) the most critical thing, or are other metrics like First Call Resolution (FCR) more important?  How about self-service?  Do you want to give callers the ability to manage some account functions like cancellations or bill payments on their own via touchtone keystrokes?  There are a lot of costs associated with operating a call center, many of which are not always immediately obvious.  Have you taken things like higher power bills, employee turnover costs, equipment wear and tear, software licenses, management time and energy, and facilities maintenance costs into account?  The answers to all of these important decisions should be clearly outlined in your company’s overall customer service strategic plan.  This will be your road map to success in delivering an enhanced customer care experience.

No two call centers are exactly the same, but these common elements are found in the majority of successful customer service operations.  Incorporating them into your own plans can go a long way towards building, or partnering with, the perfect customer service call center.

Is Tacamor the perfect call center for your company’s needs?  We are true customer care experts with the right people, processes, and facilities in place to deliver the highest quality customer service.  Contact us today to find out how we can help your business!

Motivational Quotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we all require a little something to help us make it through the day.  Here are some motivational quotes related to business, customer service and teamwork to provide a little lift in times of need.

  • If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.”  – Unknown
  • “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect.  They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.”  – Donald Porter
  • “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends.  If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”  – Jeff Bezos
  • “Sales without Customer Service is like stuffing money into a pocket full of holes.”  – David Porter
  • “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”  – Unknown
  • “When a Company compromises its principles one time, the next compromise is right around the corner.”  – Zig Ziglar
  • The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.”  – Sam Walton
  • “A company’s character is known by the people it keeps.”  – John Ruskin
  • “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”  – Samuel Goldwyn
  • Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game.  Service wins the game.”  – Tony Alessandra
  • “Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  – Andrew Carnegie
  • “It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”  – Robert Yates
  • Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.”  – Kate Zabriskie
  • “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”  – Babe Ruth
  • In business you get what you want by giving other people what they want.”  – Alice MacDougall
  •  “You’ll never have a product or price advantage again.   They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.”  – Jerry Fritz
  • “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”  – Vince Lombardi
  • People expect good service but few are willing to give it.”  – Robert Gately
  • “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”  – Michael Jordan
  • “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”  – Vista M. Kelly
  • “Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.”  – Anne Frank
  • “Organizations exist only for one purpose: to help people reach ends together that they couldn’t achieve individually.”  – Robert H. Waterman
  • “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”  – Steven Covey
  • “Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.”  – Nelson Boswell
  • “To my customer.  I may not have the answer, but I’ll find it.  I may not have the time, but I’ll make it.”  – Unknown
  • “A smile is a curve which can set a lot of things straight.”  – V. Borge

Are you motivated to improve your customer service department?  Contact Tacamor today to find out how!

When (and when not) to take it personally in the customer service industry

Call center work can be a tough racket sometimes.  Customer service agents often will have to deal with people who are irritable, angry, or downright mean.  In this line of work, it is important to have a thick skin and not take everything personally.  Here are a couple of examples of when it is appropriate to take something personally and when it is best to let it slide off your back.

Anger – Customer service agents will have to deal with angry customers.  It simply comes with the territory.  No company is absolutely perfect, and when a mistake is made, people will naturally want to take out their frustration on the first person they talk to about it, which is usually the customer service agent.  It is important to realize that, although you as the agent will have to bear the brunt of this anger, it is really being directed at the company and not at you personally.  As a key representative and voice of the company, you will have to do your best to take ownership of the issue, diffuse the emotional situation, and resolve the problem.  However, in this type of case, you should never feel that you are personally responsible for the customer’s hardship.  If the caller speaks in an angry tone or makes a sarcastic comment, the best thing to do is to ignore it and focus on fixing the underlying issue.  Don’t take it personally!

Praise – Most people have felt under-appreciated at some time or other, and call center workers are no exception.  Dealing with upset customers can take its toll on anyone.  However, sometimes a caller will be so happy at getting his or her issue resolved that they will offer up a genuine compliment or some other form of praise in gratitude.  Something like, “Wow, you have been very helpful!” or “Thanks so much for fixing this problem – I really appreciate it!”  In this type of situation, you should definitely take it personally!  Remember that you and you alone solved the customer’s problem and brightened up his or her day.  Sure, you may have had help with a troubleshooting script or some other aid, but in the end, you are the person who had to listen to the customer, appropriately diagnose the problem, and provide an effective solution.  That’s not always an easy thing to do, especially over the phone, so a successful resolution to a problem is certainly something to be celebrated, and any compliments received by callers should be taken as personal reinforcement that you did a good job.

Let the insults roll off your back, but take the compliments to heart!  That is one of the most important keys to being a successful customer service agent.

Customer Service Leadership

In order to be considered successful, a company must grow.  In order to grow, a company needs to somehow differentiate itself from the competition.  Focusing on high quality customer service in order to deliver the best possible customer experience for consumers is a particularly effective strategy that many businesses are putting into action in order to set themselves apart from competitors.

But, if there has never been much of a focus on customer care in the past, how can a company suddenly become a customer service leader?

A commitment to customer service is not something that can simply be tacked onto a business as an afterthought.  Rather, it needs to be fully ingrained into the culture of a company, and really, the only way for that to happen is for senior management to buy into that philosophy and actually put the ideas into practice.  Only when upper management fully embraces this philosophical shift and starts to demand improvements in key customer service metrics will it trickle down through middle management to the front line workers.  After all, if the CEO of a company does not care about providing excellent customer service, why should the employees care?

One of the best (and easiest) ways to become a customer service leader is to outsource call center work to a firm that specializes in providing high quality customer care.  This usually means outsourcing to an onshore or nearshore customer service provider rather than going offshore.  While a business might be able to obtain a lower overall rate through an offshore call center, the quality of customer care may suffer.  Language barriers and cultural differences often come into play and detract from the overall customer experience.  Industry consultant David Filwood indicates that, “It’s not a racist issue; people relate over the phone to people they perceive as being from their region.”

According to a recent Globe & Mail article, many North American companies that initially outsourced their call centers offshore are now bringing them back due in large part to low customer satisfaction.  Sears Canada spokesman Vincent Power recently remarked, upon bringing the company’s repair service call center back to Canada, “There’s now a higher degree of satisfaction for calls related to parts and service than there were before.”

A leadership decision to outsource call center operations offshore to the lowest cost provider indicates that customer service is simply not a priority for the company, and that they are more concerned with cutting costs than delivering a great customer experience.  Conversely, finding the right nearshore or onshore outsourcing partner shows that customer care is a high priority for senior management, and that they are willing to forego the lowest possible rock bottom price in order to keep their customers happy.

Having upper management make the strategic decision to focus on improved customer care, and then actually taking steps to implement the strategy, is the first critical step that a company must take in order to become a true customer service leader in the industry.

Tacamor specializes in providing high quality inbound customer service and level 1 technical support.  Put us to work  for your company and see first hand how we can improve your overall customer satisfaction!

Building Loyalty Through Customer Service

Keeping customers happy is more important than ever before.

The logic is pretty simple.  Receiving exceptional customer service makes people feel good about a company, which in turn makes them more likely to be loyal to that company in the future.

In fact, in many cases a good customer service team can be even more powerful for building loyalty than continually delivering a good product or service.  A study by Marketing Metrics indicated that if a company consistently delivered its product or service without any problems, customer loyalty would be approximately 60-70%; that is, existing customers would be about 60-70% likely to keep buying their current brand of product or staying with their current service provider if nothing else changed.  However, if instead the company screwed up somehow (I.e. service interruption, defective product, etc.) but fixed its mistake through excellent customer service (I.e. immediately acknowledging the problem and quickly resolving the issue to the customer’s satisfaction), customer loyalty levels increased up to 95%!

People don’t expect companies to be perfect, but they really admire the ones that care enough about their customers to admit their mistakes and provide superior service to fix problems.

But why is customer loyalty so important?

One big reason is that people are simply becoming less and less tolerant of poor service these days.  The Harris Interactive Customer Experience Impact Report indicates that 86% of consumers have quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, which is up from 59% just four years ago.  This is important because losing customers is expensive!  It has been estimated that it costs about five times as much to acquire a brand new customer than it takes to retain an existing one.

The deterioration of a company’s reputation due to poor customer service is another important consideration.  According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about his or her experience.  Plus, with the proliferation of social media services such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, this number can be even higher, causing more potential damage to a company’s brand.  This trend can also work in a company’s favor, however, as happy customers will generally tell 4 to 6 other people about their positive customer experiences.

The bottom line is that customer loyalty matters, especially in our modern economy where people have more choices than ever before.  People will not be shy about taking their business elsewhere, so companies must focus more and more on keeping their customers happy if they want to remain competitive.  Delivering great customer service is no longer the exception… it’s the rule.

Outsourcing your contact center operations to a highly qualified customer service provider like Tacamor can get you on the right track towards keeping your customers happy and building loyalty.  It might even save you money, too!  Request a quote today to find out how Tacamor can help your business.

Random Words of Kindness

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the things that are most appreciated.

It doesn’t always take something major to make a person feel good.  Little things like holding a door open, helping someone pick up a dropped coin, or even a simple smile can make a person feel on top of the world.

The same is true for customers.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and a kind remark here and there by a customer service agent can go a long way towards building a stronger relationship between a company and its customers.

Of course, delivering quick and effective customer service is usually the best way to keep callers happy, but a random word of kindness can be the icing on the cake that really strengthens the bond with the caller, and makes him or her feel special and appreciated.

There are many different things you can say to customers to make them feel good.  Some possibilities could be:

“I notice that you have been a customer of ours for ____ years.  I would just like to thank you for your business.  We really appreciate it!”

This indicates that the company does not take the customer’s business for granted, making him or her feel valued.

“I see that you also called us last month about another issue.  How did that go?  Did everything get resolved okay?”

This comment demonstrates a level of caring and concern on behalf of the company for its customers, and a commitment to high quality service.

“You have been one of the nicest callers I’ve had all day.  It has been an absolute pleasure dealing with you.”

This type of comment singles out the person in a good way, making him or her feel special compared to everyone else.

“I see that you’re on the __________ plan.  That’s a great choice.  I love that plan because _______________________.”

This statement indicates that the caller made a good decision, making him or her feel smart about that choice.  A personal endorsement by the agent also helps to further promote the company’s offerings.

In each case, these types of remarks help to build upon the overall customer service experience for a caller.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much to delight a person, and little statements like these can help to create (and maintain) customer loyalty, which should be a primary goal for any business.

Tacamor customer service agents can increase customer loyalty for your company.  Get in touch today to find out what we can do for you!

The Hidden Costs of Operating a Call Center

Many companies struggle with the decision of whether to keep their call center operation in house, or outsource it to a professional customer service provider.  Although improved quality of service is a major reason why many companies are choosing to outsource, the issue of cost remains a huge factor in the decision making process.

So, how do you compare the cost of running an in house call center against the cost of outsourcing it to a professional?

At first glance, it would seem to be an easy question to answer.  You calculate how much you are paying your current team of agents, whether per minute or per hour, and then compare it with a quoted rate from a call center outsourcer.

That’s all there is to it, right?

Well, in a word, no.

The reality is that there are a multitude of other costs that should be taken into account when properly weighing an outsourcer’s quoted rate against your own expenses.  Some of these costs are much more obvious than others.

Here are some essential costs, many of which are “hidden,” which should be factored into the equation when comparing outsourced versus in house call center expenses.

  • Payroll – This is the most obvious cost, and in some cases is the only one taken into account by many companies when deciding whether or not to outsource.  Strictly speaking, this is what you pay out to your call center staff in the form of wages and employee benefits.
  • Facilities – Your call center has to be located somewhere.  What is the cost of the building or office space?  If you outsourced your call center operations, could you put this newly vacated space to better use, or save additional money by closing it off completely?
  • Equipment – A good call center requires many different types of equipment, including computers, phone systems, wiring, furniture, etc.  In addition to a substantial up front investment to initially acquire these items, there is also a need for continual maintenance and upkeep for equipment.  Desks and chairs will wear out and need to be repaired, while computer systems will eventually become obsolete as technology improves, and need to be upgraded or replaced.  If you outsource, your company will not have to worry about these maintenance costs, since they would be borne by the outsourcer.
  • Technology – Similar to ongoing maintenance costs for physical equipment, there are also substantial costs related to keeping the level of required technology up to date.  Operating systems and software applications will need to be constantly upgraded to newer versions, and networks will need to be improved to keep up with the constant demand to be better and faster.  A good contact management platform and/or CRM system can be very costly, and often requires a certain level of technical expertise to operate effectively.  What is the cost of acquiring and implementing the necessary call center technology yourself versus letting a professional outsourcing company handle it?
  • HR Costs – In addition to payroll, there are other costs associated with maintaining a staff of workers.  How much does it cost to hire and train agents?  What about the cost of employee turnover?  Attrition rates in the call center industry are usually very high, and there can be a substantial cost associated with having to recruit, hire and train new customer service agents on a continual basis.  The cost of sick leave, employee motivation and other day-to-day HR issues should also be factored into the overall cost equation.
  • Operating Fees – Nobody likes paying expensive monthly bills.  Call centers are notorious power drainers.  How much would you save on your monthly electric bill by outsourcing your call center operation?  What about toll-free and/or long distance charges?  Do you have the appropriate insurance required for a call center operation?  How about on-site security and remote monitoring of the premises?  Janitorial expenses?  All of these things are not free, and the expenses can quickly add up.
  • Time – This is a very important cost that can be easily overlooked.  Running an in house call center requires a great deal of time and energy from upper and middle management on a daily basis.  If customer service is not your core business, and a substantial chunk of time is being diverted towards keeping your in house call center running smoothly, what is the opportunity cost associated with this lost or wasted time?  Outsourcing your customer service immediately eliminates most of the day-to-day hassle associated with call center operation, freeing up time for your star employees and managers to focus on more profitable activities that can make your business grow.
  • Customer Satisfaction – How effective is your in house call center?  Are your customers happy with the level of service they receive from your agents?  Outsourcing to a customer service professional can lead to better service levels, which can improve a company’s overall reputation and drive more sales.  This potential for increased revenue should be considered when measuring the costs of outsourcing.

The choice between outsourcing a call center and keeping it in house is a critical one for many companies.  When making the final decision, it is important that all of the relevant costs are taken into account, including the many non-obvious, hidden ones.  Only then can you get an accurate idea as to whether or not call center outsourcing makes sense for your business, and make a truly informed decision.

Does call center outsourcing make sense for your business?  Once you have calculated your total costs, get in touch with Tacamor today to request a quote, and see if we are the right call center for you!

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