Learn Call Center Basics

Do  you know about call centers? If you don’t know, you’re about to get schooled. Call centers can help you unlock the secret to making sure no sales opportunities are missed, no customer service requests go unattended, and no business is overpaying for 24 hour support. Keep reading to get a full understanding of call center basics!

What is a call center?

A call center is a business that is set up to handle large amounts of call volume on behalf of other businesses. Call centers typically employ 100+ employees known as operators or call center agents, who are usually staffed 24 hours a day. Many different types of businesses outsource to call centers for multiple reasons. Some examples of industries that use call centers include:

  • Healthcare
  • Telecommunications
  • Hospitality
  • Insurance
  • Non-profit
  • Automobile
  • Retail
  • Utilities
  • Financial

No matter what type of business you run, a call center can be used in many different ways, from providing customer support and helping close more sales to giving your company the fuel it needs to facilitate growth.

How can a call center help me close more sales?

A call center can help you close more sales through a number of different methods. First and most importantly, outsourcing to a call center allows your business to be available to potential customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is incredibly beneficial for companies who operate on a global scale, as many of your client base will be calling from various time zones.

Another way a call center can help you close more sales is by acting as an extension to your business. Not only can your call center agents be available when  you’re not, they can also provide dedicated agent services, or agents that are specifically dedicated to your account. That means they can learn your particular protocols, access your secure systems, and handle various tasks as if they were in your own office, including processing orders and increasing a sale amount by implementing up-sell and cross-sell techniques.

Can a call center help me find more sales opportunities?

Yes! A call center can help you find more sales opportunities through outbound calling campaigns like telemarketing or telesales. While call centers are most known for their ability to handle inbound traffic, they can also be used to handle your outbound calling as well.

For example, call centers can help you set up lead generation campaigns to generate qualified prospects so you don’t have to. Your call center can handle the cold calling aspect while your in-house staff focuses on other tasks, like reaching out to hot leads to close more deals. Additionally, call centers can also help  you set up market research campaigns so you can get a better idea of what  your target customer base is interested in, so that you have more tools at your disposal to create the perfect product or service.

How can a call center help keep my current customers happy?

A call center can help keep your current customers happy simply by being there for them when they need to be heard. If you only offer support to your customers from 9am-5pm, you’re only keeping a segment of your customer base happy.

Often times customers are busy during the day and can’t find time to reach out to your support team, so they try to reach out after hours. However, if you’re not available after hours, they’re going to be having awfully long conversations with your voicemail, or they’re going to be leaving awfully bad reviews online – neither of which are good. Allowing your callers to speak to a live voice when they’re in need of help could be the deciding factor on whether or not they continue to do business with you. Even if the call center operator isn’t able to solve the issue, they can provide a listening ear and help deescalate a situation until someone from your team can step in and take the reins.

Is a call center worth it if I only get a few calls?

Believe it or not, call centers are worth it even if you only get a few calls a month. Most call centers offer multiple different pricing plans that can usually fit any sized budget. And, you’ll find that the service will wind up paying for itself in the long run.

Imagine you only got a few calls a month, but those calls could potentially bring in a couple thousand dollars of business each. Now imagine those calls come in when you’re in a meeting or after hours when you’re relaxing with your family. If no one is there to answer those calls, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of business opportunities. For a business that only gets a few calls a month, you can’t afford not to have a call center!

Is a call center worth it if I get thousands of calls a month?

Absolutely! A business that gets thousands of calls a month is a perfect outsourcing candidate. Since call centers are equipped to handle high volumes of calls day in and day out, you can save your employees a lot of time and energy by allowing them to focus on other tasks instead of answering calls all day.

A call center can also be customized to your needs. For example, a non profit may need to set up a line for pledge drives, where call center agents are processing donations on your website, or a grocery store may need to set up a recall hotline for tainted produce in which they are answering questions and issuing out vouchers for refunds or replacements. No matter what kind of calls your business receives, a call center can help.

Can outsourcing to a call center help me save time?

In your day to day responsibilities, how much time is spent on the phone, or responding to emails? Probably a lot. And how often do you put things off for tomorrow because you just don’t have time today? Probably too often. A call center can take over those daily responsibilities that you and your staff just don’t have time for.

Through the use of a dedicated agent, you can outsource your email response, live chat support and social media monitoring to a call center agent so your staff isn’t wasting valuable time when they could be focused on other tasks, like closing deals and assisting VIP customers.

Can outsourcing to a call center help me save money?

Yes, if done correctly. There are some companies who try to do too much too soon and wind up spending more than what they originally intended, but as long as you have realistic goals and understand what your call center can and can’t do, they can absolutely help save you money.

For example, a small business may be eager to use their call center for lead generation, but may not take into account that outbound calling campaigns are usually a bit pricier than general inbound answering. While the lead generation campaign could be successful, the business may also wind up spending more than what their budget allows, which could be more harmful than beneficial. However, many call centers offer various pricing plans and are able to scale along with your business, which could help save  a lot of money in the long run.

Is sending my call traffic to a call center complicated?

Not at all! Call centers are able to accept your incoming calls through a few different methods. The most common form is through call forwarding, which is a feature that most phone providers offer. Call forwarding is typically done by dialing *72 on your keypad, followed by the number you wish to forward to. However, it varies depending on who your phone provider is.

When you partner with a call center, they provide you with a number that is specific to your account. What you choose to do with this number is up to you. Most companies choose to forward their existing business lines to the number given to them, while others choose to advertise that number separately. However, it should be noted that most call centers will usually maintain ownership of the number provided, so you probably won’t be able to take it with you should you decide to leave service. If you happen to be advertising the number, you may not want to spend a lot on printing it on business cards, but may prefer posting it on your social platforms and website.

Are call center services customizable to our in-house business process?

Absolutely! Most call centers use advanced call center technology that allows businesses to customize their call handling protocols to match their in-house procedures. Through the use of FAQs, app integrations, flexible scripting software and a knowledgeable customer service team that can work with users to develop a successful workflow, your transition over to a call center can be seamless, fluent, and efficient.

Do call centers just answer calls?

Call centers can be used for more than just answering your business calls. They can act as the first line of defense for upset callers, provide customer support, assist callers with scheduling appointments or placing orders, and dispatch urgent messages, among others. On top of all of that, they can give your business a 24 hour presence, and be there for your customers when you can’t.

What are the different kinds of services call centers can provide?

Call centers services are vast. If you can do it in-house, it can be outsourced. For example:

24/7 Customer Service: In most cases, business are not equipped to stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, but a call center is. No matter if it’s Christmas morning or your child’s first birthday, you can still be available around the clock for your customers via your call center.

Inbound Answering: Call centers are most widely known for their ability to answer incoming calls, as that is what they were originally designed to do. No matter what kind of business you run, if you can’t answer all your calls, a call center can.

Outbound Telemarketing: Call centers can handle a business’s outbound telemarketing by calling out to a list of uploaded leads, and following a customized script.

Sales/Lead Capture: A 24/7 call center can make sure all calls are being answered, which means leads are being captured and converted. Even at 3 AM!

Appointment Scheduling: Some call centers can access scheduling software a business is already using, some may use their own system, and some may be able to integrate with web-based software like Google Calendar.

Order/Payment Processing: PCI compliant call centers are able to help businesses place and process orders via secure call center technology. Call center agents can sometimes even use up-sell and cross-sell techniques to help maximize a sale.

Tier 1 Help Desk:  Call centers can act as the first line of support and help troubleshoot basic technical issues. For example, if a user’s thermostat isn’t working, a call center agent can walk the user through how to check if the batteries need changing, a filter needs cleaning,  or escalate the issue if it’s out of their realm of expertise.

Email Response: Sifting through and responding to emails is a daily chore that many business owners and employees don’t have time for. Instead of putting off responses until tomorrow, call center agents can handle emails as they come in and dispatch responses accordingly.

Social Media Monitoring:  Call centers can help keep a business’s staffing budget to a minimum by managing social platforms through the use of a dedicated agent.

Live Chat Assistance: Through the use of a dedicated agent service, call centers can train agents on specific protocols so they can help make businesses available via live chat 24/7.

Event Registration: For businesses that help plan events like seminars or conferences, outsourcing event registration calls to a call center can be a big help. Call centers can document who is able to attend and who is not, and can even secure seats by processing payments via secure call center technology.

Emergency Dispatching: Many businesses rely on emergency dispatching, like HVAC technicians, medical professionals and travel agencies. If employees can’t be available 24/7, a call center can be. They can also follow specific on-call protocols and dispatch messages through phone call, text, email, fax or alpha pager.

Bilingual Support: More and more businesses are gearing their customer support teams to be able to help Spanish speaking callers. However, it can sometimes be hard to find bilingual employees. Call centers often employ multiple bilingual agents who can be used to help Spanish speaking customers.

Automated Support: While live support is usually always the preferred method of communication, automated support can sometimes come in handy as well. For example, if a customer wants to check their account balance with their bank, or if they just need the new office address, a call center can set up an automated system which could help streamline requests.

How do I know if my small business can benefit from a call center?

The best way to find out if your small business can benefit from a call center is to try it! Many call center providers offer a free trial period so you can test out their service and see if it would be a compatible fit for your business.

During your free trial period you would be able to place test calls to see how the operators sound, which will help you get a better feel for what your callers will experience. Additionally, a free trial period is a great opportunity to make changes and iron out any kinks you may come across, so that when you do go live with your customers it’s smooth sailing.

If I decide to use a call center, why is SAS the best choice?

Specialty Answering Service is an award winning call center that has been providing multiple inbound and outbound services for businesses all around the world for over 30 years. Starting out as a small business ourselves in 1985, we know what it means to be a bootstrapped business, which is why it is our goal to help other businesses, no matter their size, on their path to success.

Our knowledge base is vast, and our ability to mold to your business model allows us to stand out among the competition. We help give your business a local presence, as all of our agents are located right here in the United States, and SAS offers multiple cost effective plans which allows us to scale along with your business. SAS is the trusted call center provider for over 5,000 businesses, and we can’t wait to be yours!

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