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Call Centers: Everything You Need to Know in 7 Minutes

Call Centers: Everything You Need to Know in 7 Minutes
Call center

What is a call center?

A call center is comprized of people called “agents” who answer and make calls and the technical infrastructure through which these calls pass.

A call center can be internal or external to a company

Concretely, a call center can be internal, having dedicated infrastructure within a company (phones, workstations) for call processing. It can also be external, with calls handled by an organization outside the company.

When we talk about creating a call center for a company, we must define who will be handling company calls as well as what tools they will be using to do so: telecom solution, CRM, etc.

What purpose does it serve?

A company may put a call center in place for the following reasons:

There are different types of call centers

Inbound call centers: made up of teams in charge of a company’s customer service call reception or general assistance by phone.

Outbound call centers: made up of teams of agents who mainly make calls (prospection, sales contact, telemarketing).

In practice, for SMEs most call centers are a mix, handling about as many inbound calls as outbound calls. Customer service agents answer and return client calls, while sales reps must manage calls to and from leads.

The distinction between inbound and outbound calls is important when selecting an adapted technical solution.

For inbound calls, it is preferable to opt for a solution with efficient call routing; in other words, one that ensures that callers reach the agent best equipped to deal with their question or problem as quickly as possible. An optimal solution should offer an improved IVR, personalized call queues and refined call distribution.

On the other hand, making outbound calls requires above all tools that improve agent efficiency and allow them to make more calls, such as call automation.

A specific vocabulary

As with any organization having a technical aspect, call centers have little by little developed their own jargon. Here are a few examples:

See example

KPIs designed for call center evaluation

Answer rates, service level, call abandon rates… call centers are disposed of a wide range of key indicators for measuring agent performance and overall quality. Supervisors may choose the most pertinent KPIs depending on activity, or set objectives based on these.

Examples of outbound call KPIs (sales campaigns, lead generation, etc.)

Examples of inbound call KPIs (customer service)

Find out more about call center KPIs

What tools do you need to build a call center?

A telecom solution – and more specifically, a call center software such as Ringover’s – is indispensable.

Unlike a classic business phone system solution, call center software provides everything you need to oversee and evaluate agent performance.

A successful call center is equipped with the following tools:

Call centers also generally possess a CRM for contact management. The ability to link call center phones to the CRM is vital for better productivity. Agents must automatically be able to access contact files and call logs, and other information must automatically sync with these files, centralizing all interactions with a given contact in one place (calls, texts, chats, emails, etc.).

Read also: Choosing Your Call Center Software.

Can a small business establish a call center?

Traditionally, phone system solutions require lengthy setup with complex “on-site” installation – not to mention expensive maintenance. But today’s new 100% cloud (dematerialized) approach has made setup easy and management more user-friendly than ever, eliminating the need for installation so that a company of any size can have full control.

Solutions like Ringover’s provide small teams (minimum 3 people) all the same features of the largest call centers (call supervision, performance statistics, automatic file retrieval, etc.) at attractive pricing. Our packages from $39 include unlimited calls, while more traditional packages can cost $100 - $200.

Call centers and A.I.

There’s a great deal of discussion regarding artificial intelligence and the human and technological upheaval it could cause in call centers. In truth, applications for advanced optimization have existed for several years, improving agent productivity as well as the customer experience.

Here are two examples of current practical applications:

What does the future hold for call centers?

From a technical standpoint, call centers are becoming increasingly efficient:

For instance, let’s say a Spanish speaker looking for a lawn mower on your gardening company’s website calls your support number. He or she will be put in direct contact (without entering the call queue or having to navigate your voice menu) with an agent who not only speaks Spanish but is an expert on the product of interest.

It’s simpler than ever to put in place a high-performance call center within your organization, with access to cheap and efficient CRMs along with the emergence of simpler and more accessible call center cloud solutions. This is why we’ll be seeing many more of even the smallest teams using high-performance telecom solutions to manage their customer service and sales calls in-house.