How to Select Call Center Service Providers
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Call center service providers operate customer service call centers for small companies.
Call center services are used in a variety of industries and differ in terms of their coverage, capabilities, and the additional services they provide.
Coverage- Coverage categories include dedicated 24-hour coverage, coverage during normal business hours, and normal business hours plus weekend and/or holiday coverage.
Capabilities- In terms of capabilities, some call center service providers can enter sales orders, generate and qualify inbound leads, and provide customer service or technical support. Others process credit applications, schedule appointments, answer email, or provide answering and messaging services. Call center service providers that feature web-based support and live chat sessions are also available.
Additional services- Additional services may include credit card processing, transaction reporting, product or direct mail fulfillment, script writing, and foreign language support.
Most call center service providers monitor their employees’ telephone and email interactions for quality assurance (QA) purposes. Typically, an agent reads from a sample script and receives formalized training and periodic coaching from a call center supervisor.
Average handling time (AHT)
Average speed of answer (ASA)
Average time to abandonment (ATA)
Average holding time on trunks (AHT)
Technological capabilities and employee retention are also important considerations. Call center technologies include routing, reporting, automated retrieval, interactive voice response (IVR), voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), speech recognition, text chat, and Web integration. Call center providers that sponsor employee recognition programs and offer opportunities for advancement typically have greater levels of employee retention.
Call center service providers serve a variety of applications and industries. For example, messaging services are often used by doctors and nurses, home healthcare providers, security companies, heating and cooling contractors, and building maintenance personnel such as plumbers and electricians. Inbound call center services can dispatch medical personnel or technical support personnel according to client-defined escalation protocol. Outbound call center services may specialize in follow-up communications or soft sales, customer loyalty and customer care programs, and subscription renewals. Call center service providers that support special events, manage seminar registration, and place confirmation calls are also available. Organizations that specialize in order taking and customer service can help businesses fulfill requests for information (RFI) or product literature.