Do you know that 90 percent of customers judge businesses in terms of the level of customer service they provide? No wonder why growth-oriented businesses should consider investing in inbound call center services so as to be able to address customers’ queries in a timely manner and to set up a full-time customer support team that would remain life at all hours of the day to cater to their clients’ needs. Many small businesses find it difficult to focus on customer service due to a lack of funds to hire in-house staff. Such businesses can consider outsourcing inbound call center services from reputed providers at a fraction of cost that they may need to invest in hiring and training in-house staff. If you are facing a similar situation, you may consider hiring a call center that specializes in delivering inbound support. In this article, we have covered what an inbound call center is and how it can help you grow your business by enhancing your customer service operations.

call center services for small businesses

Importance of Inbound Call Centers for Small Businesses

What is inbound call center?

Well, an inbound call center can be better defined as a support function for an organization in managing the incoming calls and addressing on behalf to drive towards the overall business objective. The incoming calls encountered may be from different contexts which include: 

  • Ordering a product 
  • Issue handling 
  • Flight reservation/cancellation 
  • Product refund
  • Question and answer interactions and more. 

The quicker you respond to the calls, the better will be your reputation of the brand. For this, you would need qualified and proactive call center experts onboard who can deal with the calls efficiently. When we say inbound call centers, it acts as the point of contact for your business and the call center agents would be the voice for your brand. Hence it is important to onboard skillful agents who are well versed in using tools and technologies as required.

Services provided by an inbound call center

Call center executives do not just handle phone calls and their responsibilities stretch beyond that. That’s the reason why call centers are often renamed as contact centers. Today, executives need to have other skills such as email management, texting-based marketing, social media management, and live chat management. These executives are required to ensure a positive customer experience by delivering services through several channels. Inbound call centers may provide different services depending on their clients’ needs, however, there are certain services that are commonly delivered by most call centers:

  • Receiving Messages

    Inbound calling or receiving messages is the key responsibility of contact center executives. An executive is required to receive incoming calls and note down specific details such as the callers’ names, contact information, the companies they are employed in, and the queries/ complaints they are registering. The executive’s duty is to inform callers that their messages will be passed onto the respective departments. This type of service is commonly sought by lawyers and doctors’ offices and by accounting firms.

  • Call patching

    In this process, the executives would not only note down the clients’ relevant details, but they would also go a step further by forwarding the call immediately to the concerned person/ team. This allows for immediate and appropriate addressing of the customers’ queries.

  • Taking Orders

    A call center agent may be required to take orders in order to help customers to purchase online. The customer’s cart will be managed digitally by the back office support executive. Some agents are also required to perform upselling and cross-selling operations.

  • Delivering Customer Service

    Customer service is often delivered by dedicated agents who works full-time on a particular customer’s account and has in-depth knowledge of the branding philosophy, services, and products. Dedicated agents will sincerely follow your guidelines, but they will solve your problems in a better way than what shared agents can do for you.

  • Handling Complaints

    An inbound call center agent is expected to possess complaint-handling expertise and to ease situations when anything goes wrong. They can even offer discounts to dissatisfied customers on your behalf to address an issue.

  • Providing Technical Support

    You can hire inbound contact centers for providing helpdesk or technical support services to your customers. You will need this service if you are selling high-tech products that are difficult to use or repair. Your agent should not be able to answer their basic queries, but they should also know how to handle ticket systems to schedule technician-visits.

The most reputed call centers can provide multilingual customer support, thereby helping you deliver better customer service to customers who live in different countries and speak in different native languages. You may often have an app installed on your mobile phone, which would allow you to communicate with your customer service team and evaluate their performances.

So what work does an inbound call center actually does?

Your inbound call center team is primarily your back-office support team that is in-charge of incoming call handling on your behalf. Such employees have specific call center skills that are mainly communication-oriented. They are also the front-end of your businesses because they directly deal with your customers. So an inbound call center team is an extension of your organization, which is operating from another location or another country. They are your outsourced company representatives who handle your customers’ calls and address their queries in appropriate ways.

How should inbound calls be handled?

Managing inbound calls may appear to be a very simple task, but professional call centers do know that receiving calls professionally and answering them in an appropriate manner is an art as well as a science. Inbound calling is all about having excellent communication skills and practising a high level of patience so as to be able to serve customers in the finest possible way.

So what’s the best way to handle incoming calls? Let’s explore this with an example:
Let’s say a customer is utterly dissatisfied with a product that he purchased from your company. So your customer goes through the manual and then finds the tool-free number online to contact your business. At first, the customer is directed to automated messages that fail to address his specific queries. He calls in the same customer support number again and gets to talk to a representative who transfers the call to another department. The customer feels disgusted one more time. Then he starts flooding social media platforms with negative messages about your brand. And other prospects reading these messages would never ever buy from you. This is an example of poor inbound calling.
So a person handling inbound calls should be:

  • Patient: An agent should be patient enough to listen carefully to an unhappy customer’s grievances.
  • Empathic: An agent should place him in the position of the customer and try to feel what he is feeling. This will not only let him bond with the customer well, but would also allow him to deliver effective solutions.
  • Proactive: An agent should be smart and proactive enough to detect an upcoming issue that may be related to an existing issue to prevent it from getting bigger.
  • Solution-oriented: An agent should have a mindset to solve issues. They should focus on solutions and find an appropriate way to solve customers’ problems, however complex they may be.

The advantages of hiring the services of a contact center

By having a contact center to serve as your outsourced back office, you can streamline your operations and focus on more critical tasks. Here’s how a contact center can help you:

  • Better Communication and Messaging Standard

    When you assign the duty of phone-answering to a dedicated team, you give that team the opportunity to develop their skills further and to deliver consistent messages. Your team members would be better equipped to deliver messages in appropriate ways. With their strong communication skills, you will be able to promote your new services or initiatives to your customers. They will be mainly focused on retaining your existing customers and ensuring superior customer experience. This would allow you to boost your brand’s reputation and focus on more important operations.

  • Better Customer Experience

    When you free your front-office staff from the responsibility of picking up calls, they are able to attend to your customers who walk in to your office. Their attention remains undivided and they are able to deliver a high level of personalized service to their customers. They can now patiently handle paperwork and can help customers with a smooth checkout process. On the other side, people handling calls at your outsourced call center can create an awesome first impression in the minds of your target audience. They will now find the time to show empathy, which would add warmth to the conversation and allow customers to engage into conversations more freely.

  • Greater Efficiency

    When you outsource your customer service responsibilities to call center companies, you allow your in-house employees to focus on other tasks and deliver better outcomes. They can now offer you superior administrative support and make your in-house operations more efficient. By having a dedicated call center agent to assist you, you will be able to improve your scheduling effectiveness. This would contribute to lesser number of scheduling-related issues.

  • Greater Savings

    You will benefit from greater savings if you hire call center executives for inbound calling as well as other back office support activities. Keeping in-house staff on a full-time basis and paying them salaries even during times when there are lesser calls to handle and lesser tasks to complete may prove to be a loss-making decision on your part. On the other hand, when you hire call center executives, you can pay them only for the calls that they attend or for the hours for which they serve you. There are certain call centers that will offer you the best rates in the industry and will allow you to get access to the desired talents. Improved efficiencies and performance may require you to appoint lesser number of staff, which in turn, would contribute to savings.

The upsides and downsides of outsourcing inbound customer support

Your Content Goes HereJust like other business decisions you make, outsourcing inbound calling services has its own sets of benefits and drawbacks. Here’s what you may want to know before making a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ choice:

The Pros

  • Lower and anticipated costs
    If you want to set up a call center on your own, you need to make huge investments in software, hardware, equipment, infrastructure, recruitment, and in training new staff. But when you opt for outsourcing, you will bear lower costs and you will have to focus only on the main functions as you will now be utilizing the infrastructure of the call center company and its already trained and experienced staff. This way, you can skip hassles as well as reduce costs.
  • Overcome staffing issues.
    Reputed call centers hire people with relevant experiences. This means that you do not have to take the burden of hiring staff on your own. This saves you from recruitment and training expenses.
  • You can get 24/7 customer support.
    If you serve clients across the globe, you need customer service on a 24/7 basis to remain connected to your customers round the clock. When you hire inbound call centers, you can make sure that your customers can get their queries addressed quickly by the contact center staff even during odd hours of the day.
  • Enhanced Productivity
    If you have too many calls to handle daily and have lesser number of staff to handle the requirements, then you can consider hiring inbound call centers. You will be able to utilize the services of trained agents and would be able to serve your customers better. In really-busy days when you need to handle several calls, your outsourced agents would manage your workload on your behalf.
  • Use of Advanced Technologies
    Modern call centers deploy sophisticated technologies that would allow you to address call-related issues or to monitor results. Your outsourced call center service experts can also let you know about the strategies and the products that are actually working to contribute to your success. Your call center would also get their software updated on a daily basis, which would allow you to serve your customers better.

The Cons

  • Low Degree of Control
    You would not have direct managerial control over the outsourced agents. You have no opportunity to maintain quality regulations or to evaluate performance using KPIs.
  • Language Gaps
    If you are hiring an off-shore service provider, then there are chances that language gaps may pose as barriers. If your agents are not able to deliver support in your customers’ preferred languages, you have a risk of causing customer dissatisfaction.
  • Lack of Knowledge
    When you outsource agents, there are chances that your outsourced team does not have enough knowledge about your company or products. So if a customer asks questions, there are chances that an agent will fail to satisfy him with proper responses.

5 tips on how you can strengthen your inbound call center strategy

If you are running a call center and if you have an existing strategy in place or you want to develop a new one, you should make sure that the results you get should allow you to strengthen your key features by making them faster and better. These are things that you can try out:

  1. Deploy the right technologies

    With the use of the right software and technology, you will be able to serve more callers in less time without putting much effort and this would actually translate into positive customer experiences. Use a call routing feature to reach the right contact and make sure that the contact receives all relevant details concerning the purchase history, location, etc. Check if you can integrate some of your inbound calling tools with the CRM tool. This would allow you to deliver a customized experience.

  2. Train your customer service team

    Customer service is a tough job and agents delivering customer service should develop special communication skills to be able to address issues successfully. So you should organize training sessions in order to help your staff sharpen their communication, multi-tasking, and problem-solving skills.

  3. Follow an approach of diversification

    It is a good idea to keep a multi-channel communication approach. This way, you can distribute traffic over several channels and keep your phone lines less engaged. There are certain tools that can allow you to deliver in all three channels such as live chat, phones, and email.

    One executive can handle one incoming phone call at a given point of time, but he can handle 2-3 live chats together. Similarly, one executive can handle multiple emails, even though that’s a less personal approach.

  4. Allow customers to be independent

    When you make sure to keep knowledge sections on your website, you empower your customers to self-educate. This may take the form of a detailed FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page and an easy-to-understand instructional guide. This would save you time. Of course, there will still be some customers who would still contact you, but the pressure on you would be less.

  5. Monitor all events

    Are you sure that your service is making your customers happy? Check the parameters below for consideration:

    • Call abandonment rate: Check the percentage of customers who choose to abandon calls before they get a chance to talk to anyone.
    • The Queue: Check the average time that a caller has to wait before they get a chance to speak to anyone.
    • Time to resolution: Check how much time you need to address an issue.
    • First-call resolution(FCR): Note the total number of calls that you have resolved after the first response.
    • Customer satisfaction: Conduct surveys and check with your customers if they really like interacting with your team.

When should your business outsource to an inbound call center company?

If your business is constantly expanding and you find it difficult to manage a large customer base, then it’s time for you to outsource inbound calling. Call centers hiring specialized staff would be able to address your unique needs in the most professional manner. Here are the typical scenarios when you should opt for call center outsourcing:

  • Customer-loss
    Poor customer service leads to customer loss. Smart agents can promote customer retention and they can also encourage your one-time customers to come back to you again and again.
  • Increased-complaints
    If you report frequent complaints, then your customer service has some really big issues. Take complaints seriously and find out what’s wrong with your service.
  • Inconsistency in brand voice 
    If your in-house employees are answering the phones in different ways without paying attention to your brand voice, you may hire a professional inbound call handling team that can properly handle interactions and can help you maintain a brand voice.
  • The necessity to have 24/7 support
    With an inbound calling service, you can remain live to your customers even after the closing hours.  When you hire an after-hours phone answering service, your customers can reach you at any time of the day.
  • Staff-Shortage
    If you do not have an adequate number of staff to handle your communication channels, you can hire call center staff to deliver multi-channel customer support.

In a nutshell, call centers allow small businesses to grow by improving the level of their customer service. If you are owning a small business, there are two primary reasons why you may choose to hire inbound contact support service. First, your requirement may be as simple as message taking on a 24/7 basis and second, your requirement may have a broader outlook with full-fledged customer service as its component. So what do you actually need? Take time to think and get back to us. We can advise you on effective call center strategies and approaches.