Call Centre | Features, Classification and Process

What is Call Center ?

Contact centre is another name of a call centre. It handles the letters, faxes, live chat and e-mails altogether at same place. The interaction with customers is carried out in call center and each customer's contact is saved. The contact centers are useful in transferring the important information to the suitable people, tracking the contacts and gathering the data. This process is a part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The customers are following the trend of calling, e-mailing, chatting online, visiting websites, faxing and instant messaging rather than physically visiting the call centres.

People have regular interaction with the businesses and organisations via call centers. The U.K.'s contact center is providing more job opportunities and it is among the fastest growing industries. The qualities of employees of the contact centres are helpfulness, friendliness and well-informed as they are responsible for the image of the company that they are representing. The other fields which may get assistance are police, fire and rescue and the ambulance services. The work to be done is making and answering calls, and responding to customers through e-mails, so the employees should have excellent communication skills and phone manners. The objective of the contact centre is giving best. customer service.

Meaning of Call Center

The place for handling the incoming as well as outgoing calls with a huge number of customers, is termed as call centre. A switchboard having call centre functionality (i.e., Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and facility of queuing the calls are provided in these call centres (Call Center Management Information System). The better way to handle a customer is having more knowledge about the callers and their issues which he/she can have by fetching the callers' detail from the system. IT has a significant importance in the day-to-day operations of the call centre.

The number of calls along with the demands placed is increasing very rapidly. The aim of companies is being shifted to customer-oriented rather than product-oriented and CRM is their focused area. The aim is not only selling and providing product's information but also to identify, know and provide service to customers.

Features of Call Center

The Features / Functions of call centre are as follows :

1) Call Routing : 
To utilize the resources to their fullest, the call routing process is encompassed by the call centres. Various conditions are responsible for determining the use of the call processing routing.

2) Automated Services : 
To divert the calls automatically or providing various services to assist the customer call diversions, the call center management system are carrying out various automated processes, such as providing automatic stream, automated voice received from customers, etc.

3) 24x7 Services : 
The automated voice response unit is active 24x7, hence the customers get the assistance all the time.

4) Flexible Channels :
The customers can communicate through communication channel. They can select any of the communication medium such as traditional voice, IP telephony, e-mail, fax, text chat, video, etc.

5) Targeted Services : 
The call centres aim at providing large number of targeted services by understanding customer account information, purchase history and various other relevant. information.

6) Professional Services : 
To meet the requirements of the customers, the call centres emphasise on the understanding of the customer's business arrangements. The professional information can be accessed from the database by the non professional operators.

7) Integration with Business System : 
Integration of call centres is done with the enterprise ERP supply chain, e-commerce and other business systems.

8) Automatic Call Distribution : 
The agents (who are present) are handed over the inbound calls. 

9) Interactive Voice Response (IVR) : 
The customers are advised to use touch-tone phones or keywords for navigating through the information.

10) Predictive Dialling : 
The outbound calls are dialled automatically and when the call is answered by the customer, it is transferred to the agent who is available.

Types of Call Centres 

Depending upon the nature, area and ownership, the call centers management system are categorized / classified into three different types :

1) Inbound/Outbound : 
The inbound call centre system is one which only receives customers/third-party calls. The main application areas are customer care centers and they are expected to have toll free numbers (at least one).
In outbound call centres, no calls are received. rather one has to make calls to the third party. Basically, the outbound calls are made for collections. telemarketing and catalogue retailing. B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Customer) are the two categories of the outbound calling.

2) International/Domestic : 
The international/ domestic call centres are termed as per the geographic area. The international call centres are the ones responsible for handling the customers across the countries (other than native country). These call centres signify the time zone differences, land laws, dominant influenced area and cultural and language differences (between customer and the agent). The call centres handling the native customer requirements are the domestic call centers.

3) In-House/Outsourced : 
When a production/ service providing company handles its own calls then it is an in-house call centre. Outsourcing is the service in which one service providing company handles (calls) the customers of the other company.

The priorities (such as customer confidentiality, capital resources, total customer base, time available, etc.) determine the better option between the in-house and outbound call centre. There are various reasons behind opting for the outbound call centre:
  • Avoiding risk in terms of money required to develop a new enterprise.
  • Not having customer handling experience.

Process of Call Center

The development and management of a call centre operation can be done by following the below given guidelines :

1) Select a Location for the Call Center where there is an Educated Workforce : 
The call centre operation is dependent upon the two important pillars, viz., real estate and labour. They determine the facilities to be provided and number of service representatives.

2) Select the Underlying Technology Components : 
The underlying technology components are PBX, voice mail, automated call distribution, computer telephony integration and network equipment (like routers, servers and desktop PCs).

3) Decide which Channels to Support in the Call Center : 
E-mail, chat, web forms, text chat and VoIP are included in the channels supporting the call centre system.

4) Select Software Solution that meet Requirements and will Integrate with Existing Systems : 
The software solutions meeting the call centre requirements and integrating the existing system are the ones containing customer information, data warehousing and contact information.

5) Integrate System when Feasible : 
Multiple customer channel management is the expected quality of the call centers. Customer representatives will be benefited by the integrated systems (as they will have complete information about customer) and they will be able to handle customers well. The internet integration is helpful for providing more assistance in chat, self-help and live agents.

6) Determine Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Business Processes :
For handling the calls, SLA establishes operation duration's and standard procedures.. while for skills-based routing capability, the best practices-workflow and e mail routing are implemented.

7) Hire and Retain Staff : 
The hiring and training budget should be established at the time of hiring. The hiring process includes hiring the skilled people, and training, retaining, motivating and rewarding them. To train the representatives, the required skills are identified and suitable objectives are set.

8) Finalize the Budget : 
The budget is finalized and its benefits are also counted. The costs including training, hiring, hardware costs deployment and integration are also determined.

9) Establish Measurement and Performance Processes : 
The results of call center can be measured by using the service level performance monitoring software. A survey is conducted to know the customer satisfaction. The response time should be evaluated. For improving the service, the reporting tools are utilized and the process is continued.

10) Establish On-Going Policies for Training and Updating CSR : 
The key element for any call center is the CSR. The employees should be updated regularly regarding the newly added tools and their tasks should be made interesting and challenging to avoid the monotony.