How Virtual Call Center Technology Can Change Your Business
|Virtual Call Center Technology|
Many companies use a call center to cover some of the secondary aspects of their business. Probably the most common example is 'Customer Support'. Depending on the complexity of the sector, this can involve staff with different levels of knowledge and expertise. For example, many computer hardware or software companies need trained technical experts with specialist knowledge to run their customer support, whereas something like a returns department could function with untrained staff operating from a pre-determined script.
But regardless of the experience level, running a traditional call center has several disadvantages. One is of course the real-estate cost - the larger the company, the more office space is needed to provide the agents with desks and equipment. Another is that it is traditionally a high-pressure and demanding job that can involve higher than average staff turnover. This can further impact a company's bottom line when they need to factor in training of new staff.
Before the introduction of modern virtual call center technology, one frequent solution to these problems was to outsource call center functions to a specialist company. While this can have financial benefits when done correctly, it does carry some risks. Many outsource companies will service multiple clients, who may be active in entirely different sectors, so employing dedicated technical experts in the role becomes even more difficult. And if a customer notices that the support personnel are not knowledgeable about the product, then it can be damaging to the client's brand.
This is why virtual call center technology has been such a revolution for the industry. It allows companies to hire the right people with the right knowledge, but at a lower cost, and in much more favorable work conditions - many agents employed in this way actually work from home. Removing obstacles such as a commute or a dress code can make life easier for many workers, and along with other benefits such as flexible working hours it can help to reduce staff turnover. Companies that continue to use the outsourcing model have also received the benefits, since outsourcing agencies themselves also have access to a wider pool of talent via the virtual model. Skilled call center agents can now be recruited from anywhere on the globe and can work remotely, avoiding problems with a lack of availability of local staff, or with agents being unwilling to relocate or unable to obtain visas.
The basic elements of virtual call center technology have been in place for a while now - in terms of hardware an agent only really needs an internet connection, a computer, and a headset. 'Voice Over Internet Protocol' (using the internet to carry out low cost calls; also known as 'VOIP') has replaced the requirement for a dedicated telephone line. But recent advances in broadband connection speed and in the reliability of VOIP services have meant that the virtual model is now much more viable than it has ever been before.
Moreover, the industry continues to adopt new innovations with specialist software tools.
The Next Frontier in Virtual Call Center Technology: New Software Tools
Traditional centralized call centers have always needed effective software in order to run efficiently, such as databases to track actions and outcomes or to deliver scripts to the agents. But virtual call center technology is now evolving along its own path, with new software being developed to overcome some of the challenges of remote working, and to keep pace with other new changes in the business environment.
For example, many companies with customer support departments offer multiple ways for customers to get in touch - via telephone calls, emails, support request forms, or live web chats. New software services are available which can funnel requests from all of these different channels to the correct agents via the most efficient method, such as a single platform where the other channels are merged.
Other developments in virtual call center technology have come about as a response to the remote working environment. In a centralized office it is easier for managers to monitor the quality of service that is being provided. This is obviously more difficult when agents are distributed across different locations in the world, but software solutions can be implemented which allow managers to quickly collate feedback from customers, and to identify and address any issues as soon as they arise.
Some software packages designed specifically for call centers even offer new ways to motivate staff, using modern management techniques such as 'gamification' - for example, adding a sense of competition to key performance measurements by adding points systems or leaderboards to relevant tasks. This method can be useful to managers who are dealing with remote workers that they may not see face-to-face on a regular basis.
But it is not only virtual call center technology that is benefitting from new advances. All kinds of call centers, including the virtual ones, can take advantage of innovations like enhanced voice recognition software. This can help in all kinds of ways - such as early detection of answer machines. This is something that can save a lot of valuable time if your call center is one that deals with outgoing calls as well as incoming calls, particularly when you multiply the saving across many agents. Some new technologies even utilize 'voice biometrics' that could be used to, for example, identify the customer of a bank and eliminate identity fraud. This can be a saving of time, of money, and of stress for the call center agent.
With this evolving technology, virtual call centers are certainly one of the most dynamic areas of growth in the business world today.