The What, The How and The Why: All you need to know about Inbound Call Centers
What’s common between a bank, your cellular service provider and your favourite e-commerce platform?
All the above have a killer inbound call center strategy in place.
A successful inbound call center is the final step that closes the provider-consumer circle. It establishes brand reputation and increases customer satisfaction by addressing their doubts/queries/feedback. Better satisfaction means more word-of-mouth goodwill ensuring a healthy influx of new customers and increased profits.
Hello from the Other Side
Besides selling products and services, the role of a company is to be accessible to the queries of their buyers, preferably at any time of the day. Brands need to offer various touchpoints for their consumers to interact with them.
There are numerous ways to connect with the buyers to solve their problem. The humble “Phone Call” is a traditional, yet effective, way of keeping the interaction alive and the relationship with the consumers intact.
Customers can connect to their favourite brands and services via phone calls with the help of a call center – one that is made up of skilled personnel to solve callers’ problems, and advanced equipment (or tools) to field, divert, record, and retrieve calls with ease.
This write-up will decode the several aspects of inbound call centers and how your business can leverage them to scale the stairway to success.
The What: Understanding Inbound Calls
They are simple phone calls that are initiated by a customer to a business (represented by a call center executive). Companies provide a number to which the calls can be made and resolutions or clarifications can be found.
There are tools that can be employed to manage a call center. These tools are equipped to field calls, direct queries to the suitable representative, and record the interaction between the customer and the executive to ensure future assessment and improvement. This effort helps in enhancing customer experience greatly.
Types of Inbound Call Centers
- Customer support
- Help desk
- Technical support
- Inbound sales
1. Customer Support:
As mentioned earlier, the real relationship between businesses and customers start after a product is purchased, or a service is taken. This type of inbound call center provides help to customers with regards to installation, malfunctioning, queries, immediate resolutions and so on. Solving their problems plays a crucial role in retaining the existing customer base.
2. Help Desk:
This type of call centers provide information about a company, their existing products or services. They also shed light on the upcoming launches and so on. Besides, they redirect calls to a specific person (in the company) with whom a caller wishes to connect with.
These call center setups provide tech support — both hardware and software — to the customers. These include on-site tech support, network tech support, desktop, application, warranty support, maintenance and so on. Therefore, by providing sound technical support, this type of customer support can retain loyal customers.
Inbound Call Center Services
- Customer Support Service
- Social Media Management and Support
- Answering Service
- Order Taking
- Customer Retention
- Claim Processing Services
- Product Information Request Services
- Virtual Receptionist Services
- Medical Answering Services
- Up-selling and Cross-selling Services
- Toll-free Customer Support Services
- 800 Answering Services
- IVR Services
This is the most important role played by an inbound call center. While speaking to callers, these call center agents employ strategy-driven customer service solutions to differentiate the brand from the crowd. Some of the features offered by customer care include customer assistance, acquisition, relationship management, complaint management, customer retention and so on.
By delivering an outstanding experience for your customers, the agents will transform the way a brand is perceived.
With today’s audience, social media plays a key role. So much that they prefer social platforms to inquire about a product/service, or put up a complaint against the brand, instead of using the more conventional methods such as e-mail, website, phone call and so on. Therefore, brands have no choice but to provide customer service through social media.
Inbound call centers are equipped with social media management teams to handle a brand’s reputation on social platforms. Besides, they ensure a tonality for the businesses. They also ensure damage control when a complaint goes viral on social media.
3. Answering Service:
Though the primary role of call center agents is to answer calls from customers, these professionals do much more. They interpret every problem in detail and make sure it is conveyed to the client without missing out on any key facts. Besides, these call service agents are available all round the clock to ensure no customer is left high and dry.
4. Order Taking:
Today, customers wish to place their orders (through their preferred channels) at any time of the day. This means that an agent operating 24×7 is vital to not lose out on potential sales. Besides, a professional call center setup will ensure that no orders are missed, and the same requirement is conveyed to the client without fail.
5. Customer Retention:
It’s highly critical that brands retain their customer base. When, or if, a customer unsubscribes from a service, the customer service personnel will call them up, have a chat with them to understand their reason for discontinuing the service, clear their doubts, provide solutions, and try to bring them back on board.
Customers around the world have a simple requirement — they ask for an easy claim handling process, hassle-free claim settlements, and faster resolution times. These needs are delivered through inbound call centers that have domain experts, global delivery centers, and set processes in place. The experts are extensively trained on the intricacies of every claim process, thereby ensuring that the customer-related queries are solved comprehensively.
The call center agents, post collaboration with a company, understand in detail about the product/service they offer. Then, with the rich experience in the domain, the agents connect with the customers, understand their problems, and provide the answers, thereby ensuring that the company’s reputation is intact.
Companies can collaborate with inbound call center service providers to get professional virtual receptionist services such as live call answering, call routing, outbound calling, message taking, order processing, administrative tasks, appointment reminders, multi-conferencing, multi-lingual support, and so on. The skilled professionals become an ambassador for the brand.
This type of call center service focuses on helping customers with aspects such as scheduling appointments, clarifying doubts, clearing apprehensions, calling physicians, and so on. The skilled call center agents manage high call volumes — through 24/7 Answering Service — for healthcare organizations in a smooth, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Besides, the agents ensure that they strictly follow protocols while dealing with the clients of a caregiver.
One of the ways for brands to generate increased revenue is to utilize the up-scaling and cross-selling method. By partnering with inbound call center service provides, their agents use a research-based approach to develop customized strategies to deliver optimal results. They first choose the right customers, wait for the perfect time, and pitch a proposition at the right time. This approach ensures that the new products/services of companies get much-needed promotion.
The customers of a company are given access to a toll-free number. The call center agents working with these brands talk to the buyers buzzing on this number. They answer product/service-related questions, understand requirements, take orders, redirect them to sales personnel, up-sell and cross-sell, set appointments, and so on.
Some inbound call center service providers lend a local toll-free number for a brand partnering with them. These brands are represented by a call service representative who uses all their experience and skills to talk to customers and deliver what they are looking for. This approach is a cost-effective, yet effective, approach for brands to provide sound customer service.
13. IVR services:
An Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a touchpoint for customers to interact with the brands. The key here is to have an interactive voice menu that caters to specific customer needs and in the language of their choice. Besides, the IVR can be used to get access to database access, make call-backs, facilitate scalability, and web integration. This is a highly cost-effective way to provide personalized customer satisfaction.
The How: Setting up your Own Inbound Call Center
If you are a relatively small, up and coming business, you can setup your own in-house call center to address customer queries. Here are a few tips and strategies to efficiently set one up.
A successful/efficient call is one where customers’ solutions are solved in one go. This not only makes the buyer happy, but also creates a positive impression for the brand.
Since customer care executives are in direct contact with buyers, a good call can boost leads and create loyal customers. Listed below are the factors that can help in monitoring call quality.
1. Deploy a dedicated team
2. Award points for performance
3. Segment monitoring based on call type
4. Standardize a successful behavior
5. Keep a record of prime calls as reference
6. Improve the processes
7. Take reviews in person
1. Deploy a Dedicated Team:
Assign a group of people to constantly listen to calls and monitor the overall outcome of the call. Based on customer satisfaction levels, these calls can be used as a benchmark for future interactions with other callers. However, when a call doesn’t go as planned, it gives the team an opportunity to analyze, learn, and fix the problem instantly.
2. Award Points for Performance:
Numbers never lie. Each customer care representative must be given a score on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
The points can be awarded based on the following aspects:
- Can understand a problem when described
- Can solve a problem on the first call
- Can deal with a frustrated customer calmly
- Can speak politely under various circumstances
- Can understand voices of any age group
- Can buy time if the problem needs an expert
The score earned can act as the Key Performance Index (KPI) for the customer care representatives.
3. Segment Monitoring Based on Call Type:
Companies must realize that all calls are not similar. The first type is called inbound calls, which is initiated by customers seeking a solution from the representatives. The second type is called outbound calls, where a customer care executive calls up people to inform about a new product or service launched by the company. Besides, outbound calls can be used to collect feedback.
The goal of the above two types of calls are different. Therefore, analyzing both types of calls with respect to customer satisfaction level can’t derive accurate metrics for future use.
4. Standardize a Successful Behavior:
The performance of customer care representatives can be improved by talking to them. However, mentioning only the negatives while giving feedback can be demotivating. Therefore, they must be told about their positives and reward them for the same. This will automatically motivate them to improve their other facets too.
5. Keep a Record of Prime Calls as References:
In the customer care business, there will be calls that manage to solve a caller’s problem, while some others fail to do so. However, there will be interactions that are close to perfect. These types of calls must be kept as a reference to train new personnel, and to set benchmarks for customer care representatives to achieve. This practice ensures that a brand provides quality customer service.
6. Improve the Processes:
The usual practice of businesses is to focus on the performance of their employees. However, the most important, and often neglected, facet of running a company is to invest in the right hardware and software. A customer care setup runs smoothly when there are advanced tools in place to field multiple calls with ease and direct them to the right representatives. In addition, the tools can record calls to be used for future reference.
7. Take Reviews in Person:
Though there are many tools and metrics to judge a customer’s satisfaction level after a phone call, the most effective way is to speak with the customer care representatives, in person, to understand the below aspects of a phone call:
- The type of customers
- The frequent customer complaints
- The patience level of customers
- The customers ability to explain their problem
Finding the Right Resources for your Inbound Call Center
To perform to their utmost potential and provide sound customer service, the call center agents you hire must have the skills listed below:
- Ability to retain information
- Flexible to various situations
- Possesses an eye for detail
- Provides creative solutions
- Organized at work
1. Ability to Retain Information:
Customer call agents are expected to interpret and retain information given by the callers. Asking customers to repeat their complaint may put them off, thereby instigating them to end the call without receiving the right solution. This can create a negative impression for the brand.
2. Flexible to Various Situations:
Customer care jobs are not a 9-to-5 system, it is expected to run round the clock. The reason: customers from any time zone may call the customer care representative for help. Therefore, an agent having a quiet day can receive a sudden call seeking help, and they must be ready to spring into action instantly and offer a solution suitably.
3. Possesses an Eye for Detail:
A customer care agent must have the ability to reach the bottom of the complaint, so that he can divert/solve it accordingly. He/she must be able to pose questions to a customer to derive information in detail. This provides immense customer satisfaction to callers by the end of the call.
4. Provides Creative Solutions:
Customer service setups provide a list of frequently asked questions and an answer template to help agents solve customers’ problems over the calls. However, at times, an agent cannot rely on the set templates to deliver an answer to the unique customers’ problems. This calls for his/her creative brain to take over and try to provide a solution that is not written, yet effective, to the callers.
5. Organized at Work:
A customer service agent’s day is not predictable. He/she may have to take innumerable calls in a day. A few calls are closed the very first time, but some may need days or weeks to be closed. This means that customer care agents must call their customers back to provide a solution. Therefore, the agents must be organized to manage their current calls and the pending cases with relative ease. An agent failing to be organized may be stacked by loads of pending calls, which can put theirs as well as the company’s reputation at stake.
Strategies for Inbound Call Center Success
The last yet critical piece in the puzzle of setting up an inbound call center is ‘strategy.’ Listed below are the key strategies for the same:
1. Have an active phone channel for potential customers:
Though there are numerous ways to know what a customer wants, talking to them is direct and the best way to learn what they want. A call center agent must be available at various touch points during the customers’ buying journey to answer all their queries. This ensures that a complicated product/service is made easy to understand for potential buyers.
Companies must have an active toll free number, and they must be strategically placed at various points visible to a customer. For instance, placing a toll free number at the top of the website may not retain a buyer for long. However, placing it at the bottom of the website, or near ‘purchase’ buttons filters out uninterested customers from calling the customer care.
2. Be Available to Fulfill Promise:
When call center agents receive a phone call, they must make the customer feel like a king. Companies like Zappos and American Express are hailed for their amazing customer service. Other brands also must try replicating the same to be the best in business.
Once the potential customers are filtered (as illustrated in the first point), the call center representatives must be available to take those calls that may lead to immediate sales. However, if a call goes into voicemail, there is a high chance that the buyer may never come back.
An inbound call center has the right tools that diverts the calls to the right people on the basis of customers interests or profiles.
3. Track and Analyze Inbound Calls:
Receiving calls from customers is just the tip of the iceberg. The need of the hour is to track the success versus the money spent to receive those calls from customers. Analytics services help companies categorize incoming calls based on customers’ interests and quality.
Businesses must place their call center numbers strategically on visiting cards or as email signatures. This is one way to hand out a specific number to a certain set of customers, and thereby increasing the chances of conversions.
Another way of segmenting callers is through the tried and tested membership programs. Based on the package a customer picks, they’re given their priority.
4. Make Use of the Customer Data:
As mentioned earlier, getting calls is only the tip of the iceberg. Now, brands must be aware of what to do with them. When call center agents have access to CRM (all the accumulated and recorded data), it can boost their performance greatly.
When CRM is coupled with social data, personalized updates to customers can be provided via social platforms. Besides, when CRM is integrated with a phone system using Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) adapters or big data solutions, it ensures that the call is logged once the conversation is over. This process helps improve the performance, and significantly reduces average handle times and boost customer satisfaction levels.
The Why: Benefits of Outsourcing Inbound Call Center Services:
Asking your current employees to double up as support executives and handle calls from customers (and solve their problems) might sound like an effective solution. The fact that they’re well aware of the company they work for and the products they offer, thereby they make for a perfect mouthpiece to talk about the brand.
However, there is a problem with the above style of working. The current employees perform at their best when they’re asked to do what they’re good at. Taking calls must be left to the inbound call center professionals, who are adept at handling multiple calls, managing clients, interpreting their problems, and providing a solution better.
Why you should outsource:
- Handle high call volumes
- Cater to global time zones
- Improve productivity
1. Handle High Call Volumes:
Predicting the number of calls your business may have to contend with on a daily basis is virtually impossible. There may be quiet days, however, during new product/campaign launches, the phones may be buzzing throughout the day. An outsourced call center service will have the personnel and the technology to field, divert, and handle calls with relative ease. This ensures that no caller is left out, thereby ensuring the brand love is maintained
2. Cater to Global Time Zones
An employee working for a company may have to log out after his quota of hours for the day. However, customers from around the world would want to interact with your brand — know about a new product/service and so on — at any time of the day. It makes it imperative for brands to have personnel in place throughout the day, and hence not lose out on customers. Having an outsourced inbound call center can put these hassles to rest, as they have the agents (operating in shifts) to handle calls at any time of the day.
3. Boost Productivity:
Having a dedicated inbound call center team will boost the efficiency of the existing employees. While they can place their complete focus on their jobs, the call center agents will ensure to talk to clients, offer them solutions, propose new products, retain them and eventually drive sales.
4. Save Costs:
Setting up an in-house call center costs time and money. It starts with the hiring process of employees who will be dedicated to customer service. Then, the process of training them to handle large call volumes every day, 24×7. In addition, the process of training them to manage callers calmly — interpret the problem and provide a solution — and boost the customer satisfaction level. Instead of investing in all the above mentioned requirements, brands can simply partner with a professional inbound call center service provider and breathe easy.
Talk to us
In an age where the average attention span has dropped to shockingly low figures, it is important for businesses to pull all strings to keep their bond with customers alive. Inbound services could be that secret weapon in your arsenal that can bring about success and boost brand reputation. Talk to ExpertCallers today to understand more about the spectrum of services we provide in this domain.