How to Choose Inbound Call Center Services That Don’t Suck

How to Choose Inbound Call Center Services That Don’t Suck

When it comes to inbound calls, the experience a customer has can have such a huge impact on your business. An unhappy customer is at least three times more likely to tell their friends about your crappy service. Eighty-percent of consumers won’t even consider doing business if a business has more than one negative review to every ten or twelve positives.

The search for the right call center services is one that’s much more difficult today than it was in the past. While the owner of a growing business might have had a handful of highly reputable services to choose from ten years ago, the rise of digital and cloud services have lowered the barrier to entry in this business significantly.

The reality is that there are several inbound call center providers out there that just plain suck! While a few bad apples are to be expected, your business can’t afford to take a chance on a provider that won’t treat your customers with the utmost respect and quality of care. Customers are your life-blood, and they won’t stick around if your phone support sucks!

Can they meet your specific needs?

Consider your customers and what their needs will be. A messaging service is simple and cheap to obtain, but if you’re hiring a provider like inbound call solutions from Ameridial, you’re doing so because you need a higher level of professional knowledge to serve your customers.

For instance, if you need technical support, is the service able source the kind of agents your clients expect when calling your support cue? If you’re looking for sales, can they provide you agents with strong sales skills? Do they offer online chat or email support if you so require?

Often when a business owner decides that the provider they’re using sucks, it’s because they’ve picked the wrong solution for their needs and/or the provider isn’t honest about their competency. It’s up to you to know what you need and to verify your provider is capable of providing it.

Do they operate in your desired time window?

Aside from rude or incompetent service, there are few things more incensing to a client than calling your company phone number and not being able to reach someone. Day and night hours of operations are key for many businesses, particularly if you need to service clients in different time zones.

Ensure that the inbound call center you’re considering can answer the phones when you need them to. Once hours of operations are confirmed, it’s important to make sure the company measures metrics like hold times, response times, handle times, call abandonment rates, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). Make sure you have unlimited access to this information too, as you’ll be paying for every minute they spend on the phone!

Do they support your customer’s language(s)?

It should be a given that you don’t want your customers speaking to agents who don’t speak their language, or who don’t speak that language very well. Just how well agents can speak the desired language is dependent on the service they’re expected to offer. For instance, someone who understands English well and who can form basic sentences might be great for taking simple fast food orders such as pizza, but can they really be trusted to tackle highly technical support tasks such as software troubleshooting?

Language barriers are also a sure-fire path to making fewer sales and gaining a reputation for being a company that’s happy to take your money, but who ‘cheaps’ out when you really need them (Ie., After the sale, when questions or problems arise!)

Don’t take the assurances given at face value either! The sales rep you speak to should be able to give you numbers to call and test the service. Make sure you and other employees call your number frequently after signing up, making mock calls to ensure they stay compliant with your language needs.

Call center staff
photo credit: State Farm / Flickr

Do they offer dedicated agents or random?

The truth is, only you can decide what’s best for your customer’s needs. Random agents might be your only option if you can satisfy the call center service’s minimum call volume requirements. Call centers are business like any other and require these minimums in order to place your incoming calls in their priority queue.

In the case of call centers, few companies can promise to have dedicated agents handling phone calls for your business if you can’t offer them a certain amount of business each month. Decide whether dedicated agents are necessary and whether the service you’re considering is able to satisfy that need.

In the case of low levels or infrequent calls coming into your business, a virtual assistant or secretary might be the better option for your business, as they can do other work for the company, while answering any phone calls that come in.

Is first call resolution a priority — can they offer references to this end?

This is another KPI that’s worth discussing on its own. While you want agents answering the calls as fast as possible, that’s not always possible when higher call volumes are a reality, or the support needed is highly technical (time consuming) in nature.

The real issue with truly crappy inbound call centers is when they become so focused on reducing response and hold times that they do everything they can to widdle-down the total time spent on call. As a customer, it shouldn’t really matter how much time an agent needs to spend with a customer on the phone, even if it costs you more (call centers charge by the minute or total hours spent on all calls for a predetermined period).

First call resolution should be the most important KPI to strive for. When this metric is hit, it tells you that customers are getting the support they need from the agents the service is putting on your calls.

This indicator, as well as the other factors on this page, will ensure that the inbound call center service you choose doesn’t suck!

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