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Everything you need to know about virtual call centers, how to start one and how they can aid in remote call center management.
VIRTUAL CALL CENTER
A virtual call center is a call center that is not bound by physical office space. It is made up of agents who are often located in scattered geographical locations and collaborate together with virtual call center software. The agents could be working from home or from other regional offices. Since all the agents handling calls may not be located in a single location, a virtual call center may or may not have a physical office. Owing to its cost benefits and minimal IT infrastructure requirements, a virtual call center is considered to be an ideal fit for small businesses.
All virtual call centers are set up for the purpose of handling inbound and outbound calls.
Inbound calls take care of answering incoming phone calls from callers who are enquiring about a product, want support setting up or using the product, or need some other form of assistance.
Outbound calls are primarily made for cold calling prospects and telemarketing. Sometimes, the calls could also be to verify information provided by an individual. Like a bank calling a loan applicant.
A traditional and virtual call center performs the same task of handling inbound or outbound calls. What differentiates one from another is how the call handling is done. The IT infrastructure used for the purpose is also starkly different. The major points of difference between a traditional call center and virtual call center are tabled below:
Allow employees flexibility to take calls from anywhere be it their desk, anywhere in their office or even from their home.
Call notes and recordings always available at your disposal to ensure your agents have the full context of your customer needs.
Monitor calls real-time even if your agents are working from a different office location or from their home.
You can set up and get started with your call center in minutes by using a good virtual phone system and engage your callers.
Your phone system is not trailing behind your growth and never slows you down. Enjoy limitless scalability using a virtual phone system.
You can accommodate more employees in the same office space because of work from home options for your call center agents.
Choose the right channels for communicating with your customers and then research on the best practices of setting up a call center knowledge base or a contact center. No matter the size of your business, you will reap benefits by investing in a call center during your initial days to have personal conversations with your customers. If phones are one of the primary channels of communication for your intended target audience, you will definitely need to set up a virtual call center.
A key capability of any virtual phone system is to allow access to previous call notes and call recordings at will. Your agents can listen to their previous conversations and improve their conversational skills. The recordings and call notes also serve to keep your agents updated.
Your prospects and customers are not going to wait while your team is in transit. Phone conversations are usually initiated for urgent gratification and hence your virtual phone system should be capable of routing phone calls to agent’s mobile or landline number.
A call center cannot truly function as a virtual unless your supervisors are able to monitor all your virtual agents in real-time. This means that your supervisors can listen to every single conversation and step in if needed. Call barging is a key capability of a true virtual phone system.
While dealing with virtual agents, it is vital for supervisors be able to check the availability status of agents. Agents can be busy talking to your customers/prospects, finishing up with their after-call-work, or available to make or answer phone calls, or unavailable by virtue of being offline. Your supervisors need a virtual phone system that can show the agent availability data in real-time.
Supervisors have the unenviable task of staying on top of periodic surges in the number of phone conversations. They need to handle this in collaboration with your virtual call center administrators. Your supervisors require a real-time call waiting for status as well as the number of conversations that are on hold.
Administrators, along with your supervisors need to regularly inspect the performance of your virtual call center and tweak your virtual phone system accordingly. Administrators require phone systems that allow easy editing of IVR (phone trees), call flows, welcome messages, and voicemail settings. Administrators need to be able to do this virtually without having to personally travel to every premise of yours to upgrade your phone rules.
Virtual call center administrators require phone systems to help them add or remove agents, teams, business hours, greeting texts, IVR’s, and escalation queues. These changes need to be effective immediately. Gone are the days of bloated virtual phone systems that cannot scale according to your business needs.
Administrators require a virtual phone system that provides for collaboration between the agents, builds relevant context for the conversations with customers/prospects, and removes needless hardware/software requirements. Anything that slows down your business is a concern for your call center agents. Provide a virtual phone system that can help your administrators improve your call center operations.
Step up your call center’s performance with Freshcaller.
virtual CALL CENTER SETUP
Starting a virtual call center requires to make some prior checks. Ensuring that everything is in place for smooth operations will save you from call disruptions, sub-par service levels or even downtimes.
Having the right number of agents has a say on your call center achieving its service levels. Calculating the number of agents you need to run the call center should not be based on guesswork. A scientific approach like the ERLANG calculator can help you calculate the right number of agents you will need to manage the call flow.
Before you start a virtual call center, you need to ensure that you have adequate network bandwidth to run everyday operations smoothly. Make it a point to run an end-to-end network audit to ensure network reliability. Poor network connectivity or insufficient network bandwidth can result in poor call audio quality.
Call flows determine how each inbound call to your virtual call center will be directed to an IVR system or to a virtual call center agent who can talk to the caller. An ACD system (automatic call distributor) takes care of diverting the calls to the right call flow. From directing calls to language experts to connecting the callers to voicemail, you can an ACD for several purposes.
Although customers would want your call center to be working round the clock, it is not practical nor possible. You have to set clear working hours. Calls that come in after working hours can be redirected to a voicemail or to a remote team that takes after working hour calls.
An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system helps segment calls based on keypad responses that users input on their phone devices. Users will be directed to a menu that provides the information they requested or connected to agents who can provide resolutions.
Voicemails can come in handy when your agents are unavailable to take calls. It enables the caller to leave a recorded voice message which the agent can act upon when they resume work.
Ever wondered what happens when your agents are available but are already engaged in another call? In such a scenario, your callers should be directed to wait queues. The call wait queues can be further customized with waiting wait hold music to keep the caller engaged.
A virtual phone system is what powers the functioning of a virtual call center. It orchestrates the entire inbound and outbound call flow in the virtual call center. It also acts as the control center of the call center enabling the admins to set up call flows, assign teams, set up call waiting queues, and so on.
VIRTUAL PHONE SYSTEM
Freshcaller is a virtual phone system that can be set up with zero hardware. Using Freshcaller, you can purchase local and toll-free phone numbers in 50+ countries. You do not have to personally travel or send your administrators to set up your virtual call center in every country in which you wish to have a phone number. Freshcaller offers several key capabilities for virtual admins, supervisors, and agents. Freshcaller was also recognized as one of the best virtual call centers by popular software review and marketplace websites.
Share one phone number across multiple users, and answer incoming phone calls from any phone, anywhere.
Read more about Shared Lines
See oldest to the most recent conversations that your agents have had with your customers, to pass a faster resolution.
Read more about Customer Interaction History
A fully modern PBX system where you can easily receive and make calls using your web browser without any hassles.
Be in the know of your call center performance with service level monitoring that gives a real-time view of key metrics like Average Handling Time (AHT), Longest Wait Time, Short abandons, etc.
Read more about Service level monitoring
Monitor how your agents fare in delivering quality service to callers with a range of call monitoring options. Barge into live calls if necessary to increase your First Call Resolutions rate.Read more about Monitoring and Barging
Have a quick glance of agents who are available to take calls. Transfer calls swiftly to available offices, agents, and remote teams based on their availability - thereby reducing call hold times.
Read more about Agent Status
A fully flexible PBX system with capabilities to easily route calls to your agents or teams, along with the ability to include self service options.
Read more about IVR
Prevent escalations and call transfers by adding agents to your ongoing call and assist the caller better.
Read more about making Conference Calls
See detailed information about every incoming call based on caller details and previous interactions with your business.
Read more about Inbound Caller ID
“When we were looking for a new solution, we tried several phone systems — Dialpad, MightyCaller, Grasshopper, RingCentral — and none offered customer support that impressed us. Price is king, but we always focused on customer service and responsiveness. Freshcaller has all the features we need, out of the box, and a team we love to work with. It was an easy choice.”
“We evaluated different systems, such as Google Voice, however, we found that only Freshcaller gave us the adequate price point for our needs with the ability to scale up in the future.”
“After evaluating several tools like Zendesk with Zendesk Talk, Telavox and other Twilio-based PBX solutions, we found the right match with helpdesk and phone system combination of Freshcaller and Freshdesk.”
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