When looking for a call center it is important to consider the type of service you need. There are three types of basic call centers and having some knowledge about what service(s) each call center provides will help you choose the right one. They all answer calls, can take messages, orders, offer technical support, set appointments and more. The decisive factor should be based on the service you require to assist your customers most effectively.
Answering Services: These are generally small call center facilities, ranging from 5 seats up to about 50 seats. They are staffed with agents (sometimes known as operators). Shifts are staggered and the agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Generally when calls come into the service they are presented to the first available agent. Agents work in a shared call environment, answering all calls for all of the services clients. Each service will have software that integrates with a phone switch. The software is capable of taking messages and other client specific information. Any information can be sent real time to clients via, text message, email, fax and by phone; when agents call or transfer the caller to the client to relay the information. Answering Services are a good fit for Doctors, Lawyers, Real Estate Agents, Service contractors and just about any small business that wants to provide extended hours and increase business without the added cost of staff. Costs range from a few dollars a day to a few hundred, most of these services are charged by the call or minute with a monthly base fee that includes an allotted number of calls or minutes.
Small Call Centers: These service providers work very similarly to answering services. They range from about 20 to 100 seats. Agents are sometimes separated into smaller subsets, where groups of agents handle various types of calls (orders, reservations, 1st tier tech. support). Small Call Centers can have more advanced software to handle more complex clients. Some of these small call centers can provide email and chat support. They provide specialized training for their agents to better serve their clients. The center can also pass information real time or batch information to the clients database. Usually these centers can provide more advanced reporting, so clients can see average calls, orders, average call times, etc…in various time frames. They are good fit for small catalog and ecommerce companies, small hotels, restaurants, and any company that would like to outsource more complex tasks yet still provide a high level of service to their clients. A very cost effective solution for small companies, costs are similar to answering services but can have higher startup costs and monthly base packages. Some small call centers also provide dedicated agents and packages are usually customized to fit the clients needs.
Large Call Centers: Also known as Contact Centers. Most consumers have regular contact with these organizations. They range from a few hundred seats to several thousand. Most of the time, agents are trained for one client and in some cases are separated to multiple agent groups for that client ie. sales and support. Services run the gamut from order taking, full tech support, collections, hotel reservations, outbound sales calls and more. They will customize the software and technology and fully integrate into their client’s systems. In some cases, they run the systems and report back to the client on their performance indicators. These can be sales numbers or call data like first call resolution or some other client’s specific information. Service levels (the time it takes to handle a call) are defined by the client. Basically anything the client requires, the center will provide. Over the past few decades, a number of these centers have been moved overseas for reduced labor cost, but there are still many call centers of this scale in the United States. Clearly with this level of support, costs are very high, millions of dollars per year, but the companies that outsource to these centers are typically large companies.
Contact One Call Center provide the best of the first two types of centers. If you are in the market for a small call center or answering service give us a call and see how we can help your business.