There are a few different types of call centres and the one you choose will depend upon your needs. An inbound call center employs people to answer incoming calls from customers. An outbound call centre's staff make outgoing phone calls to prospective customers, usually either for the purpose of setting appointments or making sales. Blended call centers train their employees to perform both tasks so their time is maximized and they can easily fill in when one department is short-staffed. Blended call centres may use automatic call distribution for incoming calls and predictive dialling or call lists in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool for outbound efforts. Finally, a contact center capitalizes on its ability to manage more than just phone calls. They cover written letters and direct mail, faxes, email and live chats.
You will surely be measuring your costs when outsourcing to call centres. To calculate the Cost Per Order (CPO), use this convenient formula:
(Sales per hour times Average value of sale) minus (Average hourly rate divided by Contact per hour) equals Average Cost Per Order
You should also keep a close eye on each call center representative's conversion rates.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has a Contact Centres and Telemarketing Council which is dedicated to helping call centres deliver the most value and operate according to guidelines and legislation. Regulations have been set to steer businesses in the right direction so that they may gain the best results from their outsourcing activities whilst keeping in conformance with industry rules. Furthermore, the European Confederation of Contact Centre Organisations (ECCCO) represents contact centre organisations in countries throughout Europe and acts as a collective group to promote knowledge exchange. Each country has one representative. In the United Kingdom, it is the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) and in Ireland it is the Call Center Managers Association.
Call centres must ensure that their agents leave a positive impression after every call. This is a challenge because this industry struggles with its reputation. Businesses and consumers alike have expressed dissatisfaction from call centers whose agents have strong accents, making them difficult to understand. Others complain about long hold times attributed to automatic queuing systems. Or, poorly trained staff who simply read off scripts or cannot handle questions or complaints properly. To avoid working with sub-par call centres, ask if the company you are considering has a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. If they do, then they are committed to providing world class service and delivering increased profits due to finely tuned business processes.