Mary Stone http://www.courteouscom.com 3m 782
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
While virtually everyone has called a company for assistance, few people stop to think about where, exactly, they are calling. For most large businesses, you are actually being connected with a call center. These centers are staffed with highly-trained professionals whose sole job is answering incoming calls and assisting customers with any questions or concerns they may have about the company’s products or services. Some call centers also utilize outbound teams for promotions or customer care calls. Here is a more in-depth look into the inner workings of call centers and what kinds of companies use them.
The Call Center Building and Staffing
While the location can range from a remodeled warehouse in the suburbs to a highrise downtown, the decor and organization of call centers is rather standard throughout the industry. Each employee is usually provided a cubicle with sound-dampening walls. The cubes are arranged in teams of ten to thirty employees, with each team having a leader. The teams are them divided into departments that specialize in certain areas of the business. Each department will then also have a leader. These leaders report to the president of the call center. Call centers can be as small as five to ten employees and as large as thousands of employees. Some companies are so huge, they have multiple call centers around the country. This helps with workload issues should a natural disaster, power outage, civil unrest or other disturbance prevent one of the centers from operating.
How It Works from the Employee Side: Inbound Teams
Employees who work on inbound call center teams arrive for work well before the start of their shift, get their computer applications up and running, put on their headsets and log into the phone system. The phone system has a queue of callers, and those callers are then routed to available employees. Depending on the business and how long the average call takes, employees may field up to 100 calls in an average workday. Every business has a quality system to score calls, usually based on the length of calls, the length of hold times, courtesy of the employee and the outcome of the call. These standards are different for every company and are usually invisible to the customer. The employee has controls on either the phone itself or their computer which allows them to stop the calls from coming to them so they can use the restroom or take their scheduled breaks. At the end of the shift, the employee finishes their last call, shuts down their electronics and heads home.
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How It Works from the Employee Side: Outbound Teams
Outbound caller employees have similar work days, but they are making calls rather than receiving them. Most call centers have a dialing system in place so employees need not punch in numbers manually. Outbound teams are sometimes used to sell new products and services, contact customers about anticipated problems or speak to dissatisfied customers who have asked for issue resolution. Outbound employees are usually paid more than the inbound employees, mostly because outbound is considered to be far more stressful and difficult to diffuse should the customer become angry. Outbound teams who sell are often offered a bonus structure to entice them into better performance, as well.
What Kind of Companies Use Call Centers
Nearly every large business uses call centers to help their customers. Banks, utility companies, electronics manufacturers, service providers, credit card issuers and even non-profit organizations use call centers to handle their inbound and outbound calls. Sometimes the company itself will own and operate the call center, while other companies choose to hire existing call centers to handle their workload. For example, it is not unusual for credit card issuers to hire world-class banking call centers to handle their calls. The employees will then either work a dedicated line and answer only with the credit card’s name, or they may answer calls for both their parents company and the credit card company. A pop-up on the screen will tell them which greeting to use. Customers have no idea they are calling another entity altogether because the process is so smooth.
Call centers are an essential part of any large business, and can be a boon for smaller businesses that are inundated with phone calls. Whether the need is inbound or outbound, service or sales, businesses use call centers to help their customers with any problems or questions they may have. This instant access to a knowledgeable and well-trained employee is integral to a smooth-running business.
Written by Mary Stone. She is a writer and a blogger. She spends her spare time gardening or going to the mall. She also loves reading the daily news.