A virtual call center is a contact center whose agents work remotely. Rather than working out of your business’ offices, the agents operate from a separate third party location, or even from their own homes. Virtual call center software lets a team work from dispersed locations, while remaining a cohesive unit and performing with easy and efficiency.
Virtual call centers work through Voice Over Internet Protocol. This means using a data network to place a phone call, rather than a terrestrial phone line. Meaning, the only things an agent needs to get to work are a solid internet connection and, of course, the right virtual call center software.
More and more people work from home, and with the advent of VOIP technology, virtual call centers have become increasingly prevalent.
However, they represent a very different work environment than traditional call centers. Given their rising popularity, virtual call centers may even be a marked improvement on the existing market. Let us show you why.
Call center software: going virtual or keeping it onsite?
The adoption of virtual call center software has several advantages compared to remaining tethered to a more conventional model. Let’s look at how it can benefit your business:
No geographical limitations
A virtual call center allows you to hire agents from all over the country, even the world. This drastically widens your available hiring pool, enabling you to select the best people for the job, not just those within commuting distance.
Moreover, being able to rely on people in different time zones will greatly benefit your customer service. You could dramatically extend your office hours, or go all the way and provide round-the-clock assistance.
The number of outsourced call centers is dwindling, now that agents can work from home. Customers are getting increasingly tech-savvy. By the time they actually ring up a business, they’re usually irate or very confused. In the case of a delicate customer service matter, customers expect to encounter informed, capable assistance, without the issue of a language barrier.
Lower upfront costs
Another reason for the waning of outsourced call centers is that the reason for their original popularity, reduced costs, is increasingly irrelevant. The most cited upside to a virtual call center is perhaps its relative inexpensiveness, even compared to outsourcing.
It’s no secret that the costs associated with starting an onsite call center can be prohibitive. You need to acquire IT resources which will be costly upfront and whose value will only decrease over time. Furthermore, purchasing hosting servers, a PBX, and phone terminals is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are running a traditional call center, you must also provide all of your employees with desks, chairs, and amenities. If you are relying on an outsourced call center, the cost of service will absolutely reflect those expenses.
Virtual call center software eliminates the need for almost all hardware, as well as the costs associated with onsite employees. As a rule of thumb, virtual call center software will charge the customer a subscription per user, per month. You will present an equal or superior level of professionalism, and your customers won’t notice anything is different when they ring you up. The bill is lighter, with no adverse effects on your staff or the happiness of your customers.
Mobility and reduced turnover
Virtual call center software allows your agents to work from anywhere. If they are working from home, they won’t need to commute. This would eliminate the potential for lost time or lateness, and most of all would lower everyone’s stress level.
Studies show, work-related triggers rank higher than any other cause for stress. The call center industry especially is known for its high employee turnover and attrition rate. A relaxed, contented staff is a more efficient one. The effect on the perception your customers will have of your business is immediate. A virtual call center can reduce your employee turnover, boost your employees’ morale, and make for much improved customer service.
Having an offsite virtual call center might not just be the smartest option your business, it could also be the greenest. Eliminating the need to commute to work, to keep a physical office, or to purchase and maintain hardware doesn’t just improve your bottom line. It also makes for a lighter carbon footprint.
Virtual call center software operates on the cloud, which has a number of positive effects on the environment. The dematerialization of data and software, the elimination of hardware and paper products, and the corresponding energy savings are all beneficial to both your business and our planet.
Tips & best practices for setting up your virtual call center software
Virtual call center software has a lot to offer your business. Nevertheless, you must adequately prepare for any change in direction your business plans to undertake.
- Empower your workforce. At least a portion of your agents will be working remotely. Therefore, you will need to take special care to motivate them to give their best performance. Make sure to recruit the best elements, and give them a strong onboarding. Thankfully, good virtual call center software makes it easy to stay in touch and work together, even in a remote situation.
- Be present as a manager. Managing a remote team requires a slightly different set of skills than an onsite one. Virtual call center software enables you to stay close to your team by monitoring performance, giving feedback, and allowing you to make modifications to your process in real-time.
If you decide to move your company toward using a virtual call center, you need to make sure you are using the right software.
- Shop around. There are many business phone providers out there, and while they may seem similar at first, be sure to compare them. Perhaps take advantage of some free trials. Make sure you’re getting the best service, you’ll feel it, and so will your own customers.
- Consider your needs. What are your business’ particular requirements that your provider must be able to meet? Is your activity seasonal? Do you need to operate in a certain language, or from a certain area? Consider what you want to get out of the arrangement, and then do not hesitate to get in touch with a provider. They will be able to advise you, and help you every step of the way.
Virtual call center software: which one to pick?
Now that you know more about call center software, you can consider what you want out of such a solution. That’s why we put together this list of ways that virtual call center software, like Aircall, can benefit your business. Aircall is a cloud-based VOIP business phone system which caters to call centers. We strive for excellence, and the qualities detailed below represent what we value in our own product.
From the get-go, opting for a virtual call center could save you a lot of grief. Setting up an onsite call center requires configuring hardware, rigging up everyone’s work station, and making sure every piece of the puzzle interacts successfully with the others.
However, the process of installing a complete virtual call center service is usually no more complex than downloading a file and running it. The whole installation could only take a handful of minutes, and the software is ready right out of the box. The process is much less harrowing than setting up a traditional call center in your office, never mind halfway around the world.
It can be a financial drain to keep your onsite call center running if you find yourself constantly juggling with a surplus or deficit of material resources. Your workforce will expand or constrict as your business grows, even more so if your activity is seasonal.
Virtual call center software is easy to scale, even on short notice. Adding or removing users to your account is as simple as unsubscribing from a magazine service.
Simple to use, in real time
A big factor in lost time in a traditional call center if the clunky interaction of multiple programs and tools. One upside to virtual call software is the unified, intuitive interface. Your team will no longer need to juggle multiple tools to perform their tasks. Even with remote agents, you’ll be able to expedite onboarding and training, and work as a more cohesive team.
In addition to this, virtual call center software allows you to survey performance successes and issues, and react accordingly. You can decide which KPIs you want to track, since not all indicators are equally valuable to monitor. This affords you immediate feedback on how your team is doing.
A complete package
Just because a virtual call center system is easy to install and easy to use doesn’t mean its features are limited. A quality solution will offer the same level of service as a traditional model if not a superior one.
One of the differences between a virtual phone business system and an onsite one is that the former is constantly being worked on and perfected. Providers are making sure that their software is always in top shape. They are working to present you, and by extension your customers, with the highest quality of service.
Others build on that and make handling calls even simpler: desktop notifications, voicemail by email, custom hold music…
And others still allow you, the manager, to stay closely involved in the process of your call center: setting priorities, call routing, real-time monitoring, call recording…
A host of integrations
In addition to these features, virtual call center software will integrate with other programs in order to provide you with a streamlined process. Rather than expecting your team to master several programs, all with differing (and sometimes overlapping) functions, you can let your virtual call center software integrate with the rest of your tools. For example, Aircall integrates seamlessly with Salesforce, Intercom, Zendesk, Slack, to only name a few.
Much like with the call center software itself, you don’t have to stay on top of potential integration updates. The software provider is always working to supply new ways to make your work day easier.
Once you virtualize your call center, it will operate through the cloud. Your data will be dematerialized, and the servers used to store it and to power your applications will be delocalized.
Cloud computing has many ins and outs. However, it can be an excellent disaster recovery safeguard for your call center. Security concerns have long plagued cloud computing, but studies show that trend is being reversed, and with good reason. On top of its myriad of features, a virtual call center can be an excellent way to keep your sensitive customer information safe.
You’ve seen how a virtual call center can improve on an onsite model and you know how to pick the right software, you’re ready to make a change for the better!