If you are reading this you may be wondering if a telephone answering service or call center can be of help in your own business. Have you ever wondered how or if a call center is different from an answering service? Or how a call center could possibly help you? Isn’t using a call center too expensive? How can using a call center be better than just doing it yourself?
It seems that everywhere you look these days there are magazine articles and websites devoted to DYI (Do It Yourself). There is even an entire television network dedicated to DYI. While DYI has its place if you are trying to repurpose a tin can into a creative light fixture, it may not be in the best interest of your business to attempt doing everything yourself.
What is a call center?
If you think that a call center is just an answering service, your thinking is as outdated as a phone with a cord. Today’s call centers do so much more than just answering phones and faxing messages. When you choose to let a call center handle the phones you can use the talents of your employees more productively. A good call center can serve as your virtual office receptionist, your order center, your appointment scheduler, your customer service representative, or your personal assistant. And they can do all that 24/7 for about what you would expect to pay a part-time receptionist to just answer your phones (depending on call volume).
Why do you need a call center?
Because everybody’s doing it and it will make you popular! That may sound silly and ridiculous but in this case there is truth in that statement. To stay in business today, it is important to be accessible to your customers at any time of the day or night. It won’t matter what great product you sell or what fantastic service you provide, if someone calls your business and gets your voice mail or a recording they will move on. However, if they get a living, breathing person on the other end of the line…one who is engaging and knowledgeable…then chances are you have them hooked. In other words, you become popular!
How do you choose a call center?
It is as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Assess the needs of your business.
You must decide what you need a call center to do for you. Consider how you and your employees spend your time and what you can do to be more productive. What jobs can a call center take on that will free up the time you usually spend on the phone? Do you just need someone to take your phone messages? Would you like to screen annoying sales calls? Do you need someone to process your phone orders? Does your business require that you dispatch emergency or on-call personnel at all times of the day or night? If you work with sensitive information, wouldn’t it be great to receive a secure message on your smart phone? Would you simply like to be able to walk out the door at night and know someone will still be there to answer calls? The right call center can help you meet all of those needs and more.
2. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the call center.
Not every call center is the same. Some offer very basic services while others provide advanced, high tech, and customized options. Here are some questions to consider as you make your choice.
- Does the center have the right equipment to serve all your needs? Can they customize your account so you get exactly what you need from them or will they make you fit into a “cookie cutter” account to fit what they have to offer?
- Can they simultaneously send a text message and email? And can they do that to multiple people at the same time?
- Can they patch calls? Can they connect your customer straight to you?
- They may say they are a 24/7 answering service, but are they 24/7/365? Are they there on holidays?
- What happens if the power goes out in the call center? Do they have a reliable backup system in place so they don’t miss your calls?
- How does the call center deal with data protection and your privacy policies? Are they a secure site?
- Can you decide how and when to use their services? For instance, what if you hire the call center to answer your after-hours calls but you occasionally need them to answer calls during regular hours due to an emergency or a rush in business? Can you do that without incurring a penalty? You carefully schedule your employees to be at work when you need them there. Shouldn’t you be free to do the same thing with your call center?
- Does the call center outsource their services to other countries? Is English their first language? Do they have bilingual operators? You know how frustrating it can be to call a business and speak to some you cannot understand. If your customer cannot understand the person on the other end of the line, chances are high you will lose that customer.
- What is the typical hold time? No customer wants to be placed on hold!
- How does the call center charge for their services? Do they require you to pay for a bundle of minutes you will never use? Do they give a price break for a large volume of calls? Do they round up calls to the nearest minute or the nearest second? That one feature can cost or save you over $1000 a year.
- Do you have to sign a contract locking you into the answering service for a specified length of time or are you free to leave the services as your needs dictate? There are so many variables in running a business. You want the freedom to make the changes that fit your needs.
3. Make the correct choice.
Carefully weigh your needs (see #1) and options (see #2) to ensure you get the right fit the first time.
Whether you call it a call center, an answering service, or a telephone answering service, the only call you need to make is to callcenterplus.com. We have the ability to cover all your telephone answering service or call center needs. Call us and let’s chat (888.753.2030). We are positive we are your best choice!