You will be surprised to find out that the first telephone companies with call processing functions appeared more than 70 years ago. They used advanced automatic call dispensers for that time on two lines: outgoing and incoming calls. Subsequently, the technological equipment of such companies has grown, but the very understanding that such a call center has remained unchanged.
Call-center is a division of the company or a separate organization that provides services for processing incoming and outgoing calls of customers. In fact, this is a link in the sales funnel, which provides feedback to the buyer of the brand’s products. In addition, an expanded version of the call center also provides services for conducting opinion polls, various voting, promotions and consumer support.
A small digression into history
The first call center in Europe appeared at Birmingham Press and Mail (UK). The bulky telephone exchange GEC PABX 4 ACD, more like a piano, served as an automatic call distributor.
In the USA, telephone feedback appeared in 1973. California-based Rockwell has developed its customer call processing system. Soon, in five centers of Continental Airlines, it became possible to book airline tickets by telephone.
The USSR also did not lag behind the west. The first call centers or “help centers” appeared in the 70s of the last century. These are well-known services – 03, 09 and others. In 1974, paid “reference” appeared in Moscow. Information was provided on special payphones in which the cost of the call was 15 kopecks. By calling the Soviet call center (09), you could find out the contacts of the city enterprises, as well as private telephone numbers.
Of course, the functionality of the first call centers was very limited. This is usually the processing of incoming or outgoing calls.
Call Center Features
The main tasks that the call center should solve are reduced to six points:
- Processing the flow of incoming calls from regular customers, new customers and customers.
- Creating the ability to listen to information about the call (and the call itself) in the form of voice messages, as well as providing access to this data in automatic mode.
- Unloading operators and company employees from performing routine activities. Modern equipment allows you to automate a number of tasks. For example, answers to typical questions of clients: “how to get to the office”, “how much is a product or service”, “working hours” and others.
- Carrying out advertising campaigns, opinion polls and preliminary sales of goods and services.
- Customer service, customer support.
- Organization of effective communication by reducing the waiting time for an answer, using sales scenarios in communication.
Accordingly, to successfully complete these tasks, the functionality of the call center must be at its best. Modern telephone companies use computer systems, automated devices for distributing calls and keeping records of calls.
Thus, a modern call center should have the following functionality:
- Automatic call registration;
- Collection and storage of customer data in the database, call history analytics;
- Call distribution;
- Recording conversations;
- Drawing up schedules, diagrams, work schemes of an individual operator and the entire center;
- Sound notification and visual display on the screen of information about an incoming, missed call;
- Creating a call queue, forwarding, activation of the waiting mode for a response and other options for working with calls.
Why are call center services in demand?
Effective telemarketing is a combination of operator experience and technological solutions. Based on this, we can derive three evidence of the high demand for call-center in business:
The most efficient distribution of communication resources of the company. This distribution of calls, automatic dialling, setting up roles, creating a customer base and more.
High-quality analytics and work control. The call center, in addition to direct sales and service, collects analytical data, records conversations with customers. All this helps to increase customer loyalty and develop more effective marketing programs.
Improving customer processing efficiency. Operators use selling scripts in a conversation – sales scripts. The call center helps to test various marketing techniques on real customers.
Modern technologies in the work of KC allow automating dealing with an outgoing call, monitoring missed calls, collecting customer data. All this helps to save up to 30% of employee time and increase customer loyalty.
The services of call centers are actively used by various areas of business and not only. For example, government organizations use referral services to work with the public. Private companies use KC as technical support, service or communication services. Political parties communicate with voters through call center operators. Financial organizations offer various options for lending to the population also using telemarketing.
Types of call centers
Contact centers can be conditionally divided into three groups: external – outsourcing companies, internal – corporate and simplest – call centers at home. Let’s consider in more detail all groups:
Outsourced call center.
These are separate companies and services that are not part of the enterprise infrastructure. Such organizations provide contact center services – calling customers in the database, receiving and processing calls, and other functions of the CC. The main feature of an outsourced call center is a clear preliminary agreement with customers on a contractual basis. This is done as follows: the business tasks of the company are discussed, sales scripts are worked out and an agreement is concluded for a certain period or number of calls.
This is a full-time unit of the company that performs the functions of working with buyers of goods and services, partners. The tasks of the internal contact center operators are approximately similar to the work of their colleagues in outsourcing. This is calling the customer base, receiving calls, creating and maintaining a subscriber base. In addition, the KC employees voiced commercial offers to partners, invited to a meeting, event, and conduct marketing research. The advantage of a corporate call center is the high confidentiality of information. That is, only company employees know about trade secrets, not third parties. The disadvantages include – high costs of maintaining the hardware and software complex, staff training, and the cost of arranging the premises.
Call center at home.
This type of contact center organization is resorted to by small companies from the micro and small business sectors. The tasks of the operators of the simplest CC include: receiving incoming calls, scoring the organization’s proposals, calling customers on the base. Usually, several telephones and a computer program are used for work at home to record conversations and keep statistics. This is a kind of outsourcing with private specialists. Operators independently undertake to ensure the quality of communication and related services. Disadvantages – small volumes, work without a contract or with self-employed specialists. Advantages – services are cheaper, there are no costs for maintaining equipment and staff.
In addition, call centers are divided according to the specifics of working with calls:
- Incoming – contact centers are configured only to receive and process incoming calls, as well as provide relevant telemarketing services.
- Outgoing – contact centers are engaged in calling the customer base. The main goal is to establish contact with potential customers and partners, as well as voicing commercial offers, company shares, and invitations to meet.
- Integrated – combined centers that provide inbound and outbound telemarketing services.
Call centers of various types are most relevant in the trading sector – all types of sales of goods and services. In addition, contact centers provide technical and information support services for customers. As a separate type of business, call centers are used in outsourcing.
Typical call center services
Almost any contact center offers the following set of standard services:
The service is relevant during the period of company promotions, discounts and sales. It is often difficult to handle a large volume of incoming calls by the organization’s in-house forces, therefore, call centers are connected to outsourcing.
Is a service similar to the “hot line”, but aimed more at solving technical or information problems of customers. A modern approach to technical support includes automated processing of frequently asked questions. For example, the robot responds to requests “How to get to the company’s office”, “how much does this or that service” and more. If the client does not have a typical question, then he is invited to wait for the response of the operator.
It is a variation of customer information support services. In large companies, employees often have to be distracted by communicating with customers and customers on the same issues. The optimal solution to this problem lies precisely in the field of activity of the call center, namely in the service of the “virtual secretary”.
Operators are tasked with processing orders, orders by phone and e-mail. Employees accept calls, communicate with potential customers, advise them on order issues and record a purchase or refusal. For example, the dispatch service is actively used in taxis, as well as when booking hotel rooms, airline tickets, and placing orders in online stores.
The operators of a professional call center provide telephone survey services on a client base. The task is as follows: to determine the preferences of potential buyers regarding a new product or service. Contact center employees ask a series of questions according to the prepared scenario. All data is entered into the database for further processing.
The cold telephone calls
One of the most frequent and complex services, who bought start-ups. This is a kind of lead generation over the phone. Before calling, a selling script is prepared – a script for the operator’s conversation with a potential “cold” client. Based on the results of the call center, a database of subscribers, black and white lists, and other statistics are compiled.
Organization of the call center?
Contact centers have two key areas of activity: outgoing and incoming communication. When working with incoming calls, the main tasks are after-sales service, customer support, and the provision of information. Outgoing calls also include telephone surveys, direct sales, information on promotions and special offers.
However, modern call centers, especially in large organizations, have a branched structure:
The first level is KC operators who receive and distribute telephone calls. Employees can answer typical customer questions. With a lack of competencies, operators transfer the client to a specialist on a specific topic.
The second level is the supervisor. This is an employee who directs the activities of call center operators. He monitors the implementation of volumes and compliance with the quality of work.
The third level is the managers of KC, who are directly involved in the management of call centers in the enterprise. If the services are provided by outsourcing, then the manager additionally works with customers of the services.
The fourth level is the administrator, technical director. This specialist deals with the technological equipment of the call center, and is also responsible for the proper operation of the entire system. In addition, he creates and implements new work algorithms, tests software.
Depending on the business tasks of the enterprise, the structure of the contact center may vary. For example, new employee levels are added – consultants, customer service managers and more.
We learned what a call center is. We got acquainted with their types, functions and typical services. In addition, we examined in detail the standard and extensive structure of the organization of work of contact centers in enterprises.