What is a call center? Why would an organization need one? Should you get a hosted system or an on premise solution? With so many different companies out there how do you go about choosing the one that is right for you? Over the next couple of weeks I’d like to break down call centers with you and see if a call center might be a good fit for your organization.
So what is a call center, actually? Basically, it’s an office that is set up to handle a large volume of requests by telephone calls. The contact center is a centralized point where all customer contacts are managed. Through the contact center all customer requests and needs are routed to the appropriate people and that valuable information is collected.
These centers take calls to place orders (or help a client with returns), set up appointments, make reservations, call customer service, etc. We’ve probably all called into a help desk needing some sort of technical help, that’s also a call center. And I know we’ve all been called (right at dinner time) with sales offers or around election time, these “cold calling” strategies also use call centers.
Calls centers are usually large open workspaces with work stations for each agent. They are usually set up with a multi-level support system. Usually the first tier are operators who initially have a basic knowledge of the product or service, if the caller needs more assistance calls are usually transferred to an appropriate department (ie: sales, service, trouble shooting). In most cases there is a third tier that callers can be transferred to depending on the situation: managers, engineers or highly skilled tech support.
The earliest call centers date back to the 60’s when the Birmingham Press and Mail installed the PABX to have rows of agents taking calls. In 1973 Rockwell International patented their GACD or Galaxy Automatic Call Distributor. Telephone sales, airline reservations and banking systems were the main users of call centers during the 70’s until the 80’s when the creation of toll-free numbers and the deregulation of long distance regulations made call centers explode because of the increase in efficiency and significant call volume.
In the 1990’s call centers became international and started outsourcing. The outsourced call center used a “pay per use” model and allowing multiple organizations to share the overhead costs associated with a call center, but still getting their calls answered in a highly effective way.
With giant leaps in technology since the 90’s call centers now have now have things like speech recognition software that enables computers to handle the first level of support that human operators used to. They now have automatic lead generation and filtering that enables inbound calls to be filtered to the right departments to move up sales calls. And even the physical equipment has changed, everything is now moving towards the cloud allowing virtual call center operators to be anywhere in the world and all tied back together with the use of software on a hosted system.
I hope you enjoyed that little history lesson about call centers and their basics. Next week we are going to look into the differences between a hosted and on premise call center solution. If you have any questions about call centers please don’t hesitate to reach out to any representative here at Wavetech Industries, we’d love to help!