Picture a call center. What comes to mind? Are you imagining customer representatives in their various cubicles, all wearing headsets, with multiple phones in front of them? The phones are ringing off the hook, and all the reps look a little frazzled, even as they try to remain cheery as they answer customer calls.
That is actually a fairly outdated image of the call center! As technology and ideas about customer service have continued to evolve into the 21st century, so too have call centers continued to change—for the better.
The Rise of the Contact Center
The “stereotypical” call center described above is what many people picture when they are asked to imagine a call center. But today’s call centers are more like “contact centers.”
People can reach out to businesses in any number of ways. Email, text, webchat, and even social media are becoming more common in call center solutions. Businesses are attempting to stay in touch with their customers and offer communication channels those same customers actually want to use.
That means your call center solution does not need to simply be row after row of customer service reps answering endlessly ringing phones. Instead, they can be chatting, texting, and emailing your customers whenever there is a question or concern.
On Call 24/7
Did you picture your call center reps working during the day? Chances are you did. In the past, most call centers operated during business hours alone. Sometimes, you got the odd extra hour or two at the beginning or end of the day, but it was rare that you could call in at 9 o’clock at night and actually get anyone on the phone other than the auto-attendant.
This has changed. Many call center solutions now offer truly 24/7 service. That means customer service reps are available to your customers any time of the day—or night. It also means people from around the globe can reach out to your business whenever it’s convenient for them.
Call center solutions used to be centrally located: You probably didn’t imagine multiple offices in several different locations around the world. But more call center solutions are incorporating the “multi-center” strategy into the plans they offer to clients.
Why? The multiple-center strategy has plenty of advantages. First and foremost, it can help provide support staff for the 24/7 call center: Reps in the Philippines are working the day shift, but that means they’re available to your customers in the US during the evening hours. That makes it pretty convenient for both parties!
Another great thing about a multiple-center strategy: It enables better access to different markets. That rep in the Philippines, for example, may speak more than one language. He or she may speak Spanish or French, which means customers who speak those languages can speak with this rep just as easily as someone who speaks English.
This is probably the biggest oversight for people imagining call center solutions: They imagine only the inbound services. People tend to think of call centers as places where customers reach out to when they have questions or problems. But call centers can also work the opposite way: They reach out to your customers.
Outbound services are actually more popular among businesses than inbound services, and they vary from solution to solution. Some companies might choose to offer a follow-up survey, contacting customers who recently made purchases. Others might call potential new customers to see if they are interested. Still others might reach out to loyal customers with great new offers.
No matter what you want to do, there is a call center solution that can help you achieve it.