How to choose a call center: getting started

GREAT MAZE LONGLEAT ...........................photo © 2007 Simon ‘Kelp’ Keeping | more info (via: Wylio)
Few business decisions have as much potential to revitalize your customers’ impression of your company as choosing a call center. A great call center can quickly transform the way people think about you and your products, helping them resolve difficulties and allowing you to build brand loyalty. With so many surveys showing customer service to be even more important than price for consumers and especially businesses, you need the right call center on your side.

However, choosing the best one for you and your customers can be a real challenge. There is a dizzying mix of options available today. Do you need an in-house or outsourced call center? Inbound or outbound? Offshore or nearshore? Shared or dedicated? And once you’ve determined the type that works best for you, how do you decide which of two seemingly identical centers will be the right fit for you?

Good questions. We’ll explore the more detailed elements in another post, but first let’s make sure the basic terms are clearly understood. It’s time for some good answers…
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Dealing with angry customers: are you making this mistake?

Angry tigerphoto © 2004 Guyon Morée | more info (via: Wylio)
Let’s face it: of all the situations that customer service and technical support teams face, dealing with angry customers can be the most draining. The agent — and sometimes several agents before the caller is done — can be exhausted from being verbally pummeled. The time spent on the call skyrockets beyond any goal or target ever imagined. And at the end of it all, chances are good that you have not won back the customer, but won a new vigilante voice out there who will be attacking your company at the dinner table, in the workplace, and most dreaded of all, in a blog.

That’s why, in many call centers, the angry customer has another name: the “worst nightmare,” and every agent there dreads getting that call. Quite understandable.

So why does Tom Peters (Remember Tom? Possibly the world’s top business guru, he has been mentioned before here on Talkamore) in his book, The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence, make this outrageous statement?

“There’s nothing, but nothing, better than an angry customer.”

Even for Tom Peters, those are pretty strong words. There is merit in what he says though. As we noted in the past post that mentioned Tom, research has shown that [Read more...]

American call centers, Canadian call centers, and your customers

A call center can be a profit center rather than a cost center

A call center can be a profit center rather than a cost center

Taking care of business ultimately means taking care of both your customers and your profits. If you can make people happy while also generating a healthy profit margin, you’ll be just fine. Of course, one of the big challenges is that it almost always costs more to care more. Customer service and profit margins don’t always walk hand in hand, so if you try to increase one, it can often drive down the other. As your high-school math teacher would have said, customer care and profit margins are inversely proportional.

That’s an oversimplification, of course, since increased customer service levels should actually lead to increased customer satisfaction ratings, which will in turn lead to more business and, eventually, higher profits. But there’s no denying that more money has to be invested in the first step well before the rewards are seen at the end. As a result, customer service investments such as call centers are often treated as cost centers rather than profit centers, and many companies have done whatever they could to drive those costs lower and lower. Hours of service were reduced. Staff training was cut back. Phone numbers were made less visible, and users were instead directed to Internet sites with prepackaged Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). And in the case of many larger companies, North American call centers were shut down, with the work being outsourced instead to some far-flung location. [Read more...]

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