VIRTUAL CALL CENTER

What is a virtual contact center?

A virtual contact center can be broadly defined as, “a contact center where all stakeholders, including the contact center admins, supervisors, agents, work from various locations but use the same system for providing customer support across email, chat, phone, messaging, and social media channels.”

Unlike a call center which offers exclusively customer support through the phone channel, a contact center offers support through all channels. Also, there are no specific support agents for various channels. A single customer support agent is able to view the entire conversational history across all channels.

virtual call center

For instance, if a customer has sent an email query and follows it up with a phone call, the same agent can read the email query and also converse with the customer on phone. This omnichannel capability enables a contact center to deliver seamless customer support. It also bolsters the customer experience as the customer does not have to use separate channels or repeat the information for issue resolution.

Phrased differently, a contact center acts as a single point of contact for customer interactions originating from various communication channels.

Broadly, there are two types of contact centers:

1. Inbound contact center - where only incoming queries through email, chat, phone, social media, etc. are handled. 
2. Outbound contact center - where only outgoing queries through email, chat, phone, social media, etc. are handled. 

A contact center might also handle both inbound and outbound operations. However, rarely do the same agent handle both inbound and outbound operations. Hence, a contact center handling both inbound and outbound will have separate internal teams or functions.

How is a virtual contact center different from any other contact center?

Traditionally, contact centers have been housed in a physical office. They were referred to as on-premise contact centers. Each agent was given a computer or laptop along with desk phones to perform their duties. This model had extreme hardware dependency and offered minimal flexibility. Also, separate hardware and software were required voice support, non-voice support, and also sales operations. 

With the massive adoption of public and private cloud services, virtual contact centers became possible. Virtual contact centers bring down the need for hardware and software drastically. They simplify the customer support function by unifying all communication through a single system — usually a cloud-based application. 

A virtual contact center brings together its agents, admins, and other stakeholders using this application. It can be accessed through a web portal or a mobile application. This makes it possible for any device with internet connectivity to be used for contact center operations. 

The consequent flexibility enables team members to work from anywhere and everywhere. There is no need for a physical office or a designated desk since everything from CRM to helpdesk software and also telephony is bundled into a single system. This has led to the popularity of virtual contact centers. This versatility and flexibility due to the use of cloud applications are what differentiates a virtual cloud center from a traditional contact center.

Features

4 constant features of a virtual contact center

A typical virtual contact center exhibits specific traits or features that make it deserving of being called a virtual contact center. There are four such traits that you must look for while looking for a virtual contact center.

Uses cloud services

It is the use of cloud services that differentiates a virtual contact center from on-premises virtual contact centers. Cloud ensures tha\t all data is collected and stored in a single location with maximum security. Also, the cloud gives agents and supervisors the freedom to work from remote locations, from any corner of the world they are in. All they need is a working internet connection and a laptop/PC or a smartphone to perform their contact center operations.

Unifies communication channels

A virtual contact center unifies all customer communication channels. It enables agents to view and transact customer communication through email, chat, phone, helpdesk, everything from one single dashboard. It eliminates the need to invest in unnecessary hardware and software. Also, it maximizes the agent productivity by making it easier to access data in a single place instead of screen hopping from one application to another.

Offers self-service

Customer support is the primary function for which a contact center is used. However, it is not necessary that all customer communication must be personally handled by an agent over chat, call, email, or social media conversations. Self-service can help reduce the burden on the agent and also make it easy for the customer to find information and resolutions on their own. Support articles (FAQs), IVR menus, canned chat responses, and customer email responses, etc. are used by a contact center as self-service options. 

Enables analytics and reporting

One of the typical traits of a contact center is that it provides deep insights into the contact center operations with readymade reporting templates as well custom-built reports. Most virtual contact centers also come with a dashboard where the most important metrics are tracked and updated on a real-time basis. Right from service level target achievement to call density and agent availability, all kinds of analytics and reporting are made easier with a virtual contact center.

BENEFITS

Benefits of virtual call centers

If you are a business that already has an on-premise call center or a new business that wants to kickstart its customer support function from the ground up, a virtual contact center is the best bet. 

There are three primary reasons:

Easy to scale

A virtual contact center lets you scale from a single agent to do a dozen or as much as you want instantly. There are no convoluted processes like drawing more physical cables, buying IT infrastructure, seeking technical support for installation, and so on.

Easy customer conversations

A virtual contact center makes it easy for agents to converse with customers. It empowers agents with a 360-degree view of previous customer interactions and helps agents to prep for the current conversation. As a result, CSAT scores also get a boost.

Effortless performance

Cloud applications offer maximum uptime and are extremely reliable. Also, they do not have challenges like inadequate bandwidth or physical damage to infrastructure that used to plague on-premise contact centers. The end result is effortless performance.

6 benefits can a virtual contact center bring to your business

Global operations without physical offices

The concept of work, as we know it, has undergone a sea change. The physical presence or proximity of team members is no longer a necessity to get things done. Remote teams with no physical offices have become mainstream. In such a scenario, a virtual call center is the best step forward. It helps run global operations without the need for physical offices in each region. Virtual phone numbers ensure that you can set up local phone support without the need for an office or even having to visit the site for setting up the phone number.

Scale operations as your business grow

As touched upon earlier, cloud contact centers take the form of applications that can be subscribed to. The subscription can be for a specific period of time and can be extended or discontinued according to business needs. This gives tremendous flexibility for the business as it can scale the contact center depending on the current business need. The number of agent licenses can be increased on decreased easily without any restraints thus sparing working capital for other priorities. 

Pay for what you use

Erstwhile call center software and even a handful of contact center systems require businesses to pay a huge sum of money as upfront payment for services. This puts excessive strain on the minimal funds that a small business has to run operations. Compared to this the benefit of virtual contact centers is that it charges businesses only for the number of licenses that they have taken. Also, in the case of telephony, the call charges are charged based on the call minutes consumed which makes forecasting budget and accounting easier. 

Maximum uptime for uninterrupted operations

The use of cloud computing ensures that there is minimal downtime in business operations. Also, when it comes to running maintenance tasks, the downtime can be calculated and predicted beforehand to avoid disruption. Most virtual contact centers offer up to 99%, some even offer 99.98% uptime in their operations.

Facilitate anytime any channel customer interactions

A contact center enables a business to offer omnichannel interactions. Irrespective of the channel through which the customer initiates the conversation, the contact center would be able to deliver a consistent customer experience. Also, since tickets and customer information are already in sync, it is easier for the agent to provide contextual support to the customer.

Agent-level Service Level Monitoring

One of the key benefits of a virtual contact center is that it gives agents detailed information on how well agents are performing. It lets supervisors fix service level targets and monitor whether they are being met or not. Any breach instances can be easily identified and looked into for reasoning and further remedies. 

Prerequisites

How to set up a virtual contact center - Understanding the prerequisites

It is proven by now that a virtual contact center is perhaps one of the best investments a business can make towards its future. The good news is, setting up a virtual contact center does not demand so much effort. Also, compared to its predecessors, the on-premise contact centers, a virtual contact center needs little infrastructure. Here are the prerequisites to set up your virtual contact center:
 

A cloud contact software

A cloud contact software forms the pillar of your virtual contact software. It acts as the bridge that connects the remote team, the hub where all customer information is transacted, stored, and safeguarded. Also, it is the gateway for establishing connections with customers through all possible communication channels. Undoubtedly, this is the first and foremost investment to be made to set up a virtual contact center. 

Agent licenses

Most virtual contact centers take the form of SaaS applications that can be used with the help of agent licenses. An agent license is like a user account that lets a single user perform the role of an admin, agent, supervisor, or owner. If a business wants to set up a virtual contact center consisting of 6 agents, it will have to buy licenses. Since it is a web application there is no installation of software involved. 

Phone numbers

Telephony forms one of the critical channels through which contact centers dispel customer support. In order to set up the inbound phone system and also to facilitate outbound calling, phone numbers are required. A single phone number can be shared among the team using shared lines. Without phone numbers, the contact center will not able to carry out telephony operations. 

Internet-connected devices

A virtual contact center can be accessed from any internet-connected device. Even a laptop or computer can double up as a virtual contact center. A smartphone with the contact center application allows admins and agents to handle calls, set their availability status, make call notes, and so on. In other words, there is no need for specific telephony hardware. However, it is possible to continue using telephony hardware for virtual contact center operations.

Virtual Contact Center

Introducing, Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller)

The virtual contact center software from Freshworks, the makers of Freshdesk.

Freshdesk Contact Center is a virtual contact center software with which you can set up your contact center in less than a day, without having to purchase telephony hardware or waiting for technical assistance. It is an easy-to-use software that will make everyday contact center operations effortless. 

The contact center has intelligent call routing, self-service capabilities, and also offers phone numbers from 90+ countries all of adding more power to your customer support operation. It also integrates easily with other helpdesk software helping your business deliver omnichannel customer experiences with great ease.

Virtual Contact Center - Freshdesk Contact Center

Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller)

The preferred virtual contact center software for all businesses