What is a Call Center?

Traditionally speaking, the call center would consist of agents, telephones, computers and desks. Agents would take calls, place orders and customers would be satisfied. Sounds like an ideal situation, but this is rarely the reality for the call center today. While a simple order satisfaction can still occur, it is really just the tip of the iceberg in this industry.

The call center today can consist of hundreds of agents working from home with a PC and a phone. They may take orders over the phone, handle technical issues for callers, place outbound calls to verify information and so much more. Physical call centers do still exist and will perform many of the same functions, but the company’s culture and overall strategy will often dictate the structure of the center.

The call center is often the main interaction point between the company and the customer. As such, it is important that optimal customer service is delivered in every interaction. For this reason, call center will often deploy specific technologies to ensure customers are not on hold for long, that they reach the right agent the first time and that they don’t have to repeat information to receive first contact resolution.

Companies deploy call centers for a number of reasons and despite the associated cost, they can also deliver a number of advantages. Call centers enable a company to centralize phone-based service and support in one location. This allows the organization to take advantage of cheaper labor rates and time zones in a particular geographic location. The launch of the virtual call center takes this one step further, eliminating geographic limitations and expanding upon the strengths of the customer service initiatives.

To ensure that every interaction delivers an optimal experience for the agent and the customer, call centers will often deploy specific technologies such as automatic call distribution, call monitoring, Interactive Voice Response, call routing and more. Quality assurance is also incorporated into the operations of the center to be sure that all agents are handling every interaction according to quality standards.

Managers in the call center space may also leverage workforce management to forecast accurate call volumes and schedule according to anticipated volumes and agent skills sets. A number of different elements have to be considered to develop schedules that work within the environment and according to agent requests. Developing accurate schedules that work with the team can not only ensure optimal call coverage, but also that all agents are properly motivated to do their job well.

The call center is designed to benefit the company and its customers, but this is only accomplished when the call center is managed effectively. By clearly outlining the purpose of the center and leveraging the tools to optimize performance, everyone wins.

Originally posted at: http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/call-center/articles/181478-what-a-call-center.htm

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