Whether it consists of one person at a desk with a telephone or a roomful of people wearing headsets, your call center is a critical part of your customer service. As the face of your company, it is where prospective customers form their first impressions, and where existing customers come to conclusions about the credibility and reliability of your service. A "mis-step" here can be costly. Mistakes, misinformation and miscommunications often result in missed opportunities.
Though you've worked diligently to build a solid reputation for your organization, allowing your customer communications to continue randomly and unstructured can quickly erode any gains that you've made. A simple understanding of call center evolution may help clarify a strategy leading to sustained customer service success.
The Phase I Call System: Hello... Is Anyone There?
Communications plans are often developed as an afterthought to a business plan, or perhaps not developed at all. As phones start to ring, a Phase 1 call center kicks in, consisting of little more than a single person routing calls one at a time. There may or may not be a "pickup group" to help answer multiple calls, but with no direct responsibility, voicemail becomes the key back up. Calls that are lucky enough to be answered are typically transferred, sometimes more than once, and often still end up in voicemail. No calls are answered after business hours. Growth and change easily overwhelm a Phase 1 system, leaving far too many customers without a resolution of their issue.
Phase II: Too Little, Too Late
Phase II provides some improvement with a small team of call center staff and overflow calls directed to and handled by multiple branches and departments. This phase offers greater accountability, but extended hold times and miscommunication between departments can result in frustration for customers and staff alike. Without a plan, dedicated and accountable staff, this system limits growth opportunities for many companies.
Phase III: A One Stop Shop
Evolving to a Phase III system will help tame a growing organization's chaos, with the hiring of a call center manager and trained agents answering the phones. The branches may still take a few calls, and automation is introduced to help relieve the call volume. This begins to form a scalable infrastructure devoted to call quality and streamlined customer service.
The stress of rising call volumes and stringent quality demands carries the unfortunate side effect of high staff turnover. This attrition monopolizes the supervisor's time, limiting employee training opportunities and producing unacceptable hold times. While an improvement over the previous phases, Phase III highlights a few lingering gaps in the delivery of high quality customer service that cannot be filled merely through the addition of personnel.
Phase IV: Starting to See the Big Picture
A Phase IV call center begins to bring all the pieces together, merging technology, best practices and a dedicated, accountable call center staff. This system leverages automation to boost efficiency and convenience, which protects the agents' time for higher quality live interactions. Phase IV call centers feature systems integration and multi-channel offerings, making key information readily accessible and swift call resolution possible. Training and quality assurance programs are enhanced by call recordings and sophisticated reporting capabilities, promoting better service experiences for both customers and staff.
The Future is Now
Though every call center is different and their requirements unique, understanding where you are is the first step to getting where you want to go. We know that Phase IV may not be attainable for everyone, but our four decades of experience developing call center best practices software can help you improve your communications by any measure you choose.
CARES Call Center software puts you in control of your customer service, both today and into the future, with a system designed to grow along with your needs. Every successful business begins with a plan. Remember to make your call center's evolution a part of your plan.