What options do small businesses have concerning setting up a small business call center?
As we have already mentioned, the call center for small business has been a very expensive option for many years because of some limits established by non-perfect technological solutions used in old-fashioned call centers. Until the last decade, the only available option for setting up a small business call center was an on-premise contact center, which means that business owners had to purchase all the hardware and software, rent a place and hire agents for office-based work. Such technology made the entering investment expensive, so a few small businesses could afford it.
Nowadays, with a wide spread of cloud solutions, including cloud small business call center software, it is no more difficult and expensive to set up and own a small business call center. Cloud solutions are based on a subscription model, so you pay for such small business call center software as you pay for an Apple TV subscription or anything else. This means that you don’t purchase any hardware, because all the infrastructure is already developed by the call center providers.
What is the essential difference between small business call centers and mid-sized or large business call centers?
First of all, let’s say the obvious fact - mid-sized and large call centers handle more operations than small business call centers in most cases. Secondly, the organizational structure of large call centers can be very different from small business call centers, because they can include a few groups of agents who work from different offices, and different departments which processes distinct groups of customer requests, and also large business can afford to provide all-around-the-clock call center services because of using outsourced call centers for servicing customers during non-business hours of their own call center.
Finally, large business often invests in blended call centers to handle both inbound calls and outbound calls, but it doesn’t mean that blended call centers are unaffordable for small businesses. Moreover, cloud technology helped small business call center gain all the functionality of large business call centers, so in this disposition, call center for small business bears all the same features and capabilities as call centers for mid-size businesses or even large enterprises.
Why do small businesses need call centers?
A call center for small business may help small companies in many aspects of their business, but let’s discuss all the benefits in detail to show you the real impact and importance of a small business call center.
Higher customer retention rates - small business call center may become a strong customer retention tool because it helps to automate customer service operations and gather customer data for further communication with clients.
More sales opportunities - small business call center is a great tool for cross-selling and up-selling, because you can communicate with potential buyers directly via phone calls, and that’s how you can get the most out of any qualified lead.
Positive customer experiences - customers state that the quality of customer service is the most influential factor in customer experience, including such vital components of customer experience as customer satisfaction and customer effort. This is why investing in customer experience improvement is the best way to retain customers and build customer loyalty.
Numerous options for customer feedback collection - the only way to drive your business forward is to build rapport with your customers and take their opinions into consideration before making any vital decisions regarding your business and products. Small business call center software has many features for feedback collection, including automated outbound calls, different contact channel integration, and so on.
Higher customer lifetime value - small business call center software allows you to manage customer journey and provide the best service possible at any stage of it, so customers are more likely to remain with your brand, which means they will spend more money, too. Small business call center software can help you to follow up with customers, gather customer info, and provide personalized and proactive customer service.
How to start a virtual call center for small business?
Many beginners ask “How to start a call center business from zero?” or “How to start a call centre without spending all money in the world?”. We have a brief answer - you need to follow the checklist below, which is tested by time and many successful small business call centers.
#1 Outline the needs of your team
Having a solid understanding of your business goals is half of success. First of all, you need to determine why you need an in-house small business call center.
Talk it over with your team. Here are a couple of questions you could ask your fellow executives, managers, and yourself:
- What do we expect to gain with a small business call center?
- What functions and features do we need?
- What are the must-haves?
- What are the can’t haves?
- What size should it be?
- What is our budget?
- Do we need to hire specialists with relevant call center experience?
One of the most important questions to address when starting a small business call center is staffing. It’s usually much easier to calculate the number of employees for an outbound facility since you get to decide how many calls to place. Based on your business goals, you can calculate how many agents you need exactly.
Here’s how we do it in Voiptime Cloud.
This estimate of the number of operators for outgoing calls is hypothetical and it doesn’t take into account a dialing mode (but even if you acknowledge the dialing mode, the number of operators won’t change dramatically).
Supposing, we need to manage 2000 calls daily and we expect to have 60% contact rate (to achieve this, 1200 calls must be successful).
The average duration of one call is 2 min. As our previous experience shows, the actual talking time of one agent during the 6 hours working shift is 252 min (70%).
Thus, to accomplish a goal of 1200 unique successful calls per day with an average 2 min call duration and 70% agent occupancy, you’ll need to have 10 agents on the shift.
The outbound agent occupancy calculator will help you derive similar estimates and determine how many agents you need. In order to manage 400+ live calls daily using our Predictive Dialer, you’ll probably need two or three agents, tops. If you handle incoming calls, you can use the Erlang calculator for estimation.
Once you spell out your needs and expectations, move on to the next step.
#2 Choose the right call center software for small business
Anyone who had ever tried researching call center software for small business would agree that it’s not that easy. At first glance, they all look the same, and many people assume that they work the same. Our advice is not to rush. Compare pricing plans and scalability, contact sales, schedule a couple of demos to see the software solution in action, and make sure that it actually has the functions listed on their website. Most reputable small business call center software companies provide a free trial so that you could test all the features. Consider several options of call center solutions for small business and choose the one that suits your needs best.
Top 7 call center features your small business call center must have
Use predictive dialer to process really big contact databases with 10+ agent teams without generating unnecessary abandoned calls. Due to its sophisticated algorithm, the predictive dialer increases contact rates and eliminates an agent idle time. If you need to achieve maximum efficiency, you will love this tool.
Looking to develop the professionalism of your team? Then call scripting is a must-have feature for your call center. Besides the questionnaires, it can provide agents with detailed knowledge bases, etc. Their conversations with clients won’t be a complete improvisation anymore, and they will be able to meet the highest service quality standards of your company.
A decent CRM system is absolutely necessary for an outbound call center as it ensures excellent customer service and helps your agents close more sales. Not only it will provide your agents with all the necessary information about each prospect but also give them access to a history of communication, related events, etc. If you don’t use any CRM yet, no worries. Voiptime Cloud already has an in-built one.
Live call transfer
Some agents are just amazing in providing customer service but absolutely hopeless in closing sales. Have them pass their call over to a more experienced sales rep who will seal the deal. This feature is also very useful for solving clients’ issues. Whenever your agent feels that the problem is out of their area of expertise, live call transfer can save the situation. Forget about long waiting time and callbacks from frustrated customers!
Call tracking and monitoring
Juggling between agent discipline and customer satisfaction can be really tough for your managers. Would you like to simplify their lives and obtain more accurate data at the same time? Then you will appreciate this feature in your call center software. By automating performance monitoring, you can keep your agents organized and let your managers focus on other important tasks, which require human input.
This feature is super helpful for agent training. Have your rookie sales reps listen to their own calls and help them spot their weaknesses. If they would actually hear where they screwed up and if you, as an experienced coach, could explain to them what they could have done better, that would definitely improve their results. Likewise, having call records in place is invaluable in resolving customer disputes.
Reporting and analytics
Your software should be capable of more than just making calls and keeping logs. It should provide you with comprehensive reporting and analytics to help you make better decisions. For example, Voiptime Cloud includes sales pipeline, agents’ KPI, and campaign reports, which allow organizations to get a complete picture of what is going on in their call center. Our clients really enjoy the versatility of our software.
#3 Configure your software
Cloud-based solutions are “plug-and-play” small call center options, but they still need some basic configuration. If we’re talking about an outbound call center, you should create teammates, import contacts for phone dialing, set up outbound campaigns, configure redialing intervals, maybe purchase a local (DID) number for some other region. You might also need to integrate your call center solution with other business apps you use.
Once you had your small call center software optimized, test it out. Go through different scenarios so that you are sure that everything is configured optimally. The better you check it, the fewer angry prospects you’ll meet along the way. This process can be simplified with the help of your software vendor. For example, we at Voiptime Cloud offer a free consultation for our customers during the first month of cooperation and monitor their work regularly.
#4 Provide training for your team
Before your small call center is up and running, you need to assure that your agents know how to use it effectively. Conduct comprehensive practical training, answer all their questions, provide troubleshooting tips and discuss all the possible scenarios (or ask your vendor to conduct such training for you). Take your time to educate everybody so that they won’t feel lost if something unexpected happens. It’s an essential condition of a smooth launch.
#5 Ensure proper monitoring (and adjust accordingly)
Setting up a new call center small business department is a somewhat difficult process that rarely goes perfectly, so don’t worry if you encounter a few bumps on the road. Your goal is to mitigate issues as they occur rather than avoid them. Normally, a call center software vendor provides support all the way through implementation, so you could use this help.
There’s also a lot you can do yourself to make a transitional period as smooth as possible. This includes monitoring live calls of your agents for coaching purposes, analyzing call center data in order to detect possible hardships your agents encounter, etc. All this information is very helpful as it shows a complete picture and detects areas of improvement.
The first two weeks are the hardest, so be prepared to face difficulties. Most importantly, remember that the real magic happens after the adaptation period; that’s when you’ll see the first results.
If you want to make a call center implementation as smooth as possible, feel free to contact Voiptime Cloud. We’ll help you save time and effort by providing a professional IT analysis, free consultations, training, and the fastest technical support from the IP telephony & call center experts.
As you can see, setting up a small business call center isn’t something impossible or unaffordable. You just need to purchase properly designed small business call center software and hire specialists, and congratulations - your small call center is all set!
Nonetheless, when it comes to choosing a small business call center software, you may be confused with the numerous options available on the market. To save you time, we offer you to check the capabilities of the VoipTime Cloud Contact Center solution on your own so you can see all its features, advantages, and benefits of it personally!