The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has had a global impact on businesses across a range of industries. Many businesses need to maintain contact with customers and are looking at ways to manage this given social distancing and isolation, so now is a more pertinent time than ever to consider setting up a virtual call centre to maintain the best possible customer experience for your business.
This article will outline four simple steps for setting up a virtual call centre to efficiently and economically manage incoming and outbound communication with customers. Whatever your needs–B2B or B2C, phone calls or online chat– call centre software options can help set up the optimum platform you require to provide your customers with the support they need.
Why is having a call centre beneficial?
Primarily, call centres are a way for customers to interact with businesses. They streamline customer service departments, meaning businesses can resolve issues and answer questions promptly. All in all, customers benefit from a better experience with your business.
But there are other business advantages too.
Call centres can be used as a means to increase revenue when executed correctly. For example, during a customer interaction, there may be opportunities to upsell. Alternatively, a customer’s solution could be adjusted to better fit their needs. Even if the now satisfied customer spends less, they’re more likely to become a loyal customer—spending with your company for a longer period.
Call centres are also a prime opportunity to obtain data. As customer problems, queries and feedback are captured and analysed, business products can be adjusted to better fit the demand. This also flows into shaping marketing messages and campaigns, as well as sales pitches.
What are the four steps to setting up a virtual call centre?
The four steps to follow when setting up a virtual call centre are:
When setting up a virtual call centre, the first step to consider is where best to house your service. There are two main ways of looking at this:
A home-based set up is a cost-efficient and convenient space for setting up your virtual call centre (and a relevant option to consider in the current climate). To do so is as simple as having your necessary equipment and a quiet working space to take calls undisturbed. This setup also works well if you have a team as they can each work from home too.
If you have an existing office, you can set up a core team of agents there to manage incoming and outbound calls with the aid of office facilities and a team dynamic to support this. This option could also work for those considering obtaining office space, or utilising co-working office spaces to set up a call centre.
2. Employees and team training
For the type of team and talent you need to operate your virtual call centre, consider:
Recruiting the right skill-sets
Whether your infrastructure necessitates home-based agents or a team in an office space, there are fundamental skills you should ensure they have. This is namely three things:
- Clear and understandable communication skills
- The ability to listen carefully and digest information
- A personable manner to deal with any issues and provide informed solutions.
Training your agents
To ensure your agents have the skills above to fulfil their role successfully, basic communication guidance and a trial run at dummy phone calls is good practice. The benefit of dummy phone calls is that you can assess the experience-level the candidate already has and then provide guidance on any gaps–whether that’s communicating, listening, or dealing with specific situations that will arise.
You have your space and your agents, next is obtaining the resources your team will require.
Call centre software can help you set up a virtual team of agents. It is wise to explore different options to cater to your specific needs, but overall you should be looking for software that helps your agents to:
- Receive and make phone calls
- Save any data from calls i.e. record, transcribe, save call history
- Manage call experience i.e. recorded messages or hold tones
- Offer other communication options, such as video chat, if needed
Virtual call centres tend to run on phone systems or online chat software (or both). Regardless, the fundamental hardware your agents will need to carry out their role is a computer, internet connection, phone system, and ideally a headset to free their hands up.
With the transfer of business information and customer data through your virtual call centre, it is important to consider the appropriate security to protect your business.
Here are two key ways to stay protected:
- Anti-virus/Malware protection: To protect you from any viruses that can erase or exploit important or confidential data, or wreak havoc with your computer.
- Firewall protection: To protect you from unauthorised intrusions to your private network, i.e. hackers, so your important information can’t be dubiously accessed.
There you have it. In just four steps, you can have a dedicated customer support system for your business up and running. A simple route that can scale to any size and give you the platform you need to look after your customers, wherever they may be.