If you’ve ever walked the floor of a large call room, you’ll notice an air of controlled chaos.
Phones dialing off the hook, representatives calmly asking customers to “please hold while I transfer you,” and the same script lines repeated over and over.
Before we dive into the thick of it, let’s ask ourselves:
Why Are Remote Call Centers Still So Vital in Our Digital Age?
We have FAQs, educational blog articles, online chatbots, and we can even troubleshoot problems via text. So why even maintain a call center?
Nearly 60% of customers say that customer service is a critical factor that impacts their choice of a brand.
The faster you can grant them a human-to-human connection where an operator empathetically addresses their problem and looks for a solution, the higher the likelihood you have of converting a disgruntled customer into a lifelong fan of your brand.
Put simply, if someone puts in the effort to call a company in our world of instant gratification, they likely have a frustration or question that needs human-to-human contact. A call center is often the fastest way to provide it.
The Dreaded “On Hold” Soundtrack
Now, just having a call center isn’t enough.
If you force customers to listen to “please hold” music for thirty minutes and then bounce them around clueless agents, you’ll likely lose a customer and see a few one-star reviews pop up on the Internet’s various review sites.
61% of customers noted that they have stopped doing business with a company after a single poor customer service experience.
Yikes, that means poor customer service can cause a business to lose more than half of its customers due to simple problems of customer service neglect.
One of the main reasons for these increased expectations is Amazon’s Amazon Prime (as well Zappos, an online shoe business regarded as a customer service pioneer acquired by Amazon in 2009). These companies have elevated the concept of customer service several notches above the industry standard.
Amazon’s level of customer service didn’t happen coincidentally: it was a systematic approach incubated over two decades, likely using a variety of optimization techniques and call center monitoring tools.
But it’s not just mega-companies like Amazon that can elevate their customer service.
The following article will explore how any organization can improve call center efficiency and leverage the best of today’s technology and practices to run a remote call center effectively.
How to Run a Remote Call Center
It’s not just enough to have a call center that can handle its incoming volume; it must also be an operational powerhouse.
About 33% of customers noted that quick resolution in a single interaction is essential for a good customer service experience.
The most frustrating aspect for customers is an agent who simply lacks the knowledge or ability to solve their issue, with the second being having to repeat their issue multiple times.
What does it mean to be an operational powerhouse of a call center?
While your call center human talent is a key component, operational excellence is achieved through processes, not by expecting individual call center agents to do the heavy lifting at every turn.
Every process needs to pursue excellence, rather than simply just getting the job done. There are various call center quality monitoring tools that exist solely for this purpose. For example, a time tracker for remote workers allows you to single out performance metrics and track employee productivity.
It starts with clearly defined SOPs, guidelines, policies, and procedures. Then having the right monitoring software in place to track and optimize performance. Every minute invested into training call center agents will pay off dividends in the long run.
Train to Think
The beauty of “process-ization” is that you can streamline every aspect of your call agent training.
However, don’t just rely on step-by-step lists and scripts. You ultimately want to give your call agents the ability to think on the fly.
Call center tracking software can help train new levels of autonomy and also help you identify which agents are your top performers, using their processes as a benchmark and teaching tool for all your agents.
For example, incorporate the following exercise into your onboarding and ongoing training: enact a few hypothetical scenarios that go off the script and see how your virtual call center staff handles them.
Close the Feedback Loop
Running a remote call center in 2023 is much like any other year but with a few unique challenges.
A call center is no longer a “center” but a decentralized array of people working from home– dozens or hundreds of people in a single room just simply doesn’t sound sustainable in a COVID or post-COVID world.
However, the ultimate goal of a virtual call center is still the same: establish and flawlessly execute procedures consistent with your company’s values, while meeting the needs of your customers. Call center tracking software helps keep agents, managers, and enterprises accountable to their values and customers.
The silver lining of forced virtualization of call centers (both in-house and remote) is that monitoring performance and acknowledging exceptional success can also be done virtually, thanks to software.
A time tracker for remote workers, such as Insightful, for example, is specifically designed to help enterprise organizations with remote call centers enhance their business process outsourcing productivity and analyze performance in a simple, digestible format.
Embracing New Technologies
In 2023, you can’t expect to compete if you’re not willing to embrace the latest technology.
We’re not just talking about the latest headsets or computers, either. To operate at the highest level, your remote call center should be equipped with the following:
- Voice recognition systems: For the modern call center, voice recognition software is an integral part of the customer support process. This software or system can understand basic customer queries, and then redirect them to the right human agent for a seamless customer experience.
- Virtual and augmented reality: While they may still seem like something for the distant future, VR and AR are here to stay. Many call centers can now use this sophisticated technology to offer immersive training experiences for their agents, simulating realistic customer service scenarios.
- Conversational AI: Conversational AI tools such as ChatGPT and Google Bard have opened the doors for all kinds of purposes. In a remote call center, these conversational AI tools can help resolve basic customer queries, generate effective call scripts based on successful customer interactions, and help agents make sense of their notes.
Remote Call Center Optimization
A call center is a supply chain like many others: customer support requests come in, and either happy or unhappy customers come out.
Above all else, customers want to get in touch at all times on their time, rather than waiting for business hours.
This rising standard for customer satisfaction will force companies to adapt or struggle. A remote call center can be your operational advantage by offering around-the-clock, multilingual customer service.
Call centers that utilize call center tracking software will have an additional competitive advantage. By monitoring and benchmarking performance with software, it becomes possible to provide better service, availability, and speed to resolution -- launching an average organization into the Mount Olympus of customer service.
Updated: September 20, 2023