For business owners, businesses that are faring well in this “Great Recession” are like winning the Super Lotto.
When the phones in your office are ringing off the wall, it’s a sure sign that business is still prosperous. What happens when you are running a shop on your own and the phone is ringing off the hook? Instead of hiring more help (especially during the holiday season), outsourcing an inbound call center could be your salvation. What should you know before you hire a company to help with incoming calls? What can you negotiate on to get the best deal? Here are some tips when working with inbound call center services:
Used primarily during holiday and election seasons, inbound call center is a form of telemarketing that does not actively make outbound calls. It is designed to help your business improve customer service and relationship management. Some of the benefits businesses would reap from outsourcing inbound calls are:
- Accessible option for companies that want to provide round-the-clock tech support
- Branding and publicizing your business
- Can double as an answering service (i.e. appointment setters)
- Excellent instrument for managing and improving customer relationships
- Ideal for taking and processing orders via phone
- Perfect for customer service
What to Consider Before Signing With a Vendor
Most companies hire an inbound call center without planning and end up paying more than needed. If planned correctly, you can actually save costs on outsourcing. Research these before you work with a vendor:
Assess your inbound call center needs – Decide what inbound call centers can do for you- order collection, customer service, tech support as well as how much volume you expect. Having these statistics handy can help you determine what your needs are ahead of time and what you might be able to cut out.
Ask about training – Most sales representatives are trained when they are hired and some companies specialize in certain industries (government campaigning, product ordering, customer service calls for the computer industry, etc.). Ask each vendor if the sales reps are trained in your industry. If they are not, go with another company because you’ll spend less on creating scripts for the representatives.
The less reps, the better – It is best to have as few people as possible on the phone representing your company. This way, the sales people will be able to learn about your business and represent it better, resulting in quality customer service and lower costs.
Own your own 800 numbers – You will need an 800 number so that the reps can get in touch with you and leave you messages. Inbound call centers may offer to set up a phone number for you, but it would be better if you owned your own 800 number – it’s less expensive and easier to switch to another call center if need be.
Pricing and contracts – Different variables exist in the pricing structure for call center services. You should have prospective vendors outline their costs and explain anything that might not be covered that could cost extra later. Hidden fees are common in this industry so look closely at the termination clauses and call volume clauses.
Reps are compensated differently – Representatives working on commission will represent your company better and work harder. Be sure to ask how employees are compensated or rewarded for their performance.
Research offshore outsources call centers – Rates can be as little as 25% compared to a United State-based telemarketing services would charge for the same service.
Lydia Kim writes extensively for Resource Nation and VoIP service, an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs with local and national pre-screened vendors. Resource Nation empowers businesses to make smart choices.
Image by tatlici.