Traditionally, call centers are depicted as a large workspace where hundreds of agents are making and receiving phone calls using their telephones. These call centers are generally set up in large office complexes or small commercial buildings. But what happens when all of this operation is shifted to a work-from-home model? We refer to such setups as virtual call centers. The primary purpose of a virtual call center is the same as your traditional call center; the only difference is the location of the agents. In this article, we will understand the various benefits virtual call centers have to offer to new-age businesses, and we will look at a detailed idea of how to start a virtual call center.
If you are looking to outsource your virtual call centers, Squadstack offers Plug-n-play solutions. In just a few simple steps, you can set up your virtual call centers, and our agents will take care of the rest.
A virtual call center is often synonymous with a cloud-based call center. It is a customer service model where agents work remotely and collaborate through cloud-based communication systems. Unlike traditional call centers, which require a physical space and huge capital expenditure, virtual call centers can be set up anywhere. Agents do not have to report to a physical call center as they can do their jobs while sitting at home. Agents can connect with customers from anywhere; all they need is an internet connection and a working phone. This shift in technology has not only redefined the work environment for customer service agents but has also brought about a host of benefits for both businesses and consumers.
Businesses should follow certain strategic steps to start a virtual call center. This ensures that the call center serves its purpose, completes the organizational objectives, and is sustainable for a long period of time. Here are the seven key steps to start a virtual call center.
The first step to starting a virtual call center is to identify your goals. For example, if you want to acquire new customers, increase your sales, or cross-sell to old customers, then you would set up a call center for telemarketing. So, deciding the objective of the virtual call center is important.
If a company wants to start a virtual call center to answer customer queries, attend to customer calls, or do other inbound calling-related tasks, then they can set up an inbound virtual call center. This means the agents working from home will only receive inbound calls from customers throughout the day.
If a company wants to start a virtual call center to increase its revenue and acquire more customers, then it should set up an Outbound virtual call center. Outbound means when the agents of a call center initiate the communication. This is useful in lead generation, telemarketing campaigns, customer surveys, etc.
As the name suggests, a Hybrid virtual call center is essentially a combination of outbound and inbound activity. Here, depending on the demand and operation, we at SquadStack can provide both outbound and inbound calling.
The next step is to set KPIs, i.e., Key Performance Indicators. These indicators help agents understand their daily or weekly targets while also allowing their managers to oversee their progress. As agents work remotely in virtual call centers, tracking KPIs allows the management to ensure that the required productivity levels are achieved by the employees.
ART is measured in two ways. In inbound calling, ART represents the amount of seconds the caller had to wait before an agent received the call. While in outbound calling, this metric represents the amount of time an agent or dialer had to wait before the call connected to the customer.
Average handle duration is a KPI that represents the average amount of time an agent spends on calls. Higher AHD means agents are spending more time resolving customer queries or pitching products to prospects.
The average abandonment rate measures the average number of times customers disconnect a call. In inbound calling, abandonment could be because of long hold times or unsatisfactory answers to the query. In outbound calling, this could be because customers are not interested in the product that the agent is selling. Generally, an AAR of 4% or less is acceptable.
Lead conversion rate is a simple measure that represents the percentage of leads that were converted to paying customers. In order to convert leads into customers, agents have to go through a structured sales process.
As the name suggests, customer satisfaction scores measure how satisfied your customers are after receiving the product, service, and customer support.
Technology infrastructure is the foundation of virtual call centers. It is used to bring all the agents, various tools, and databases to one platform and help the operations run in sync. Broadly, there are two types of technology that are used to start virtual call centers.
Cloud-based computing is quite common in virtual call centers. Cloud-based technology is easy to implement as companies can take the help of 3rd party vendors such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc, while also having flexibility in scaling.
Virtual Private Networks are private networks used to connect various devices from different locations. This technology involves setting up your own network to connect all the agents. VPN offers better privacy, data protection, and the ability to customize the network, but it is also difficult to scale up or down.
Once the technology infrastructure and type of virtual call center are decided, we can start integrating various standardized tools that can help with call center operations.
Quality monitoring software helps us manage the quality of calls. For example, SquadStack has an AI-led call quality monitoring process, which samples various call recordings and analyzes them for script compliance, speech, etc., to ensure that our agents are representing our client's brand in a proper manner.
Data security and privacy tools help companies protect their customers’ and clients’ data. This adheres closely to industry standards; In case of outsourcing, every call center must employ certain data security measures and get its audit done every month or quarter.
CRM software integrates customer data from various channels into a centralized platform. It allows businesses to manage customer interactions, track customer journeys, and provide personalized support.
Companies should look for skilled and motivated agents who understand the objectives of the virtual call center. After hiring, agents should go through systematic training, which should cover things such as product knowledge, communication skills, and the use of virtual call center tools. It is important to invest in ongoing training to keep agents updated on industry trends and best practices.
Virtual call centers may choose to provide call center agents with the necessary hardware, including computers, headsets, and reliable internet connections. This will ensure that each agent has the infrastructure required to deliver optimal performance.
Implement workflow management tools to enhance accountability and control within your virtual call center. These tools help streamline processes, assign tasks, track progress, and monitor quality, ensuring that operations run smoothly and efficiently.
As discussed already, virtual call centers, unlike the brick-and-mortar counterparts, don't have to confine their agents to a single physical location. Instead, they work on cloud-based technology, which allows agents to work from anywhere, be it their home office, a co-working space, or even a beach-side cafe (with a decent internet connection, of course). This geographic flexibility unlocks various benefits for both businesses and agents.
Given the various benefits we have discussed, you may want to set up a virtual call center for call center operations but do keep in mind that it's not that simple. The entire process of setting up cloud infrastructure, hiring remote employees, managing their schedules, and constantly analyzing KPIs can be tiring and unfeasible. So what's the solution?
Virtual call centers are essentially cloud-based call centers. It is a customer service model where agents work remotely and communicate through cloud-based communication systems.
Switching from traditional to virtual call centers can reduce costs for businesses and give them access to a global talent pool. They can save huge costs on the physical infrastructure equipment.
SquadStack offers a plug-and-play solution, which is a ready-to-go virtual call center solution. All you have to do is upload your leads, create a telecalling campaign with the help of hundreds of sample recordings we provide, and upload telecalling scripts. Our team of trained agents will handle everything from here.
Businesses need virtual call centers to conduct telecalling and marketing campaigns, along with attending to customer queries and other inbound requests. Setting up a virtual call center is less costly than a traditional brick-and-mortar call center and gives you access to a global talent pool.
The main limitations of virtual centers are the tech infrastructure and control over agents. Setting up proper tech infrastructure with a seamless experience and zero glitches is difficult. It is also tough to manage and monitor agents when they are working remotely.