Outsourcing some of your business processes is a big step in the growth of any business and when done right can make the difference between being successful and being hugely successful.
Outsourcing your call center for order taking, customer support, or technical support can take the burden off of your current staff and allow you to leverage your assets to focus on your core business whatever that may be.
Other business processes many choose to outsource are data entry, transcription services, IT, payroll, accounting services, web development, video editing services, application & software development, accounting services, search engine optimization (seo) and related services, & a host of other tasks that can be done remotely.
And just about any business can make good use of a part time or full time virtual assistant.
While our name is TheCallCenterInc.com we can help you make the correct choice on what business processes you wish to have outsourced.
Please read our helpful & informative articles and suggested services and we think you’ll find that by outsourcing your business processes you can truly cut your costs and maintain or even improve the quality of the services you currently use / provide using in house staff.
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We’ve done a bit of research on a few companies and want to share our findings with you on the benefits and drawbacks of a few Call Centers.
Davinci Virtual – Davinci Virtual sells packages that include live receptionists that you can have take orders and enter them through your website, provide customer service, schedule appointments, do live outbound and sales calls, they provide a toll free or local phone/fax number, and their minute usage is calculated by the second which can save a lot of money compared to other services which generally charge by the minute with partial minute usage rounded up. If you go over your usage they will also upgrade your package to the next plan retroactively. All call center reps are located in the USA.
Live receptionist hours are 8am – 8pm EST Monday – Friday so this is not a 24 / 7 service so if you need 24/7 service you may want to combine a package with a package from another company that provides 24 x 7 customer support.
Answer Connect – Answer connect is a 24 / 7 / 365 answering service and provides inbound service for the base prices with US based call center reps and will do customer service, order taking, appointment scheduling, will forward calls, and most normal tasks that Davinci Virtual will but instead of calculating usage based on seconds they calculate their usage based on minutes and you must upgrade your package before you go over your minutes as Answer Connect will not upgrade you retroactively.
123 Employee – With 123 Employee you get a dedicated Filipino employee that works set hours and only works for you. If your call volume is low then this may not be the option for you. However this employee can do other things and since they are a dedicated employee perhaps you need them to do dta entry, outbound & inbound calling or any other business process you can train your dedicated team member to do it for you at a fraction of the price of having a US based employee.
The drawback here is that when your employee goes home your coverage ends and so if you want more coverage you will need to hire more employees.
One of the advantages here is that you actually are involved in the hiring process and so you interview the reps you want and hire only the person that you feel will be able to best accomplish the job.
Price can be a drawback for smaller businesses that need phone coverage and don’t have enough other tasks to outsource.
Whether you choose just one or combine services we find that using a service like RingCentral can help your business small or large save money and keep the best phone coverage while providing a professional image for your company.
You want to outsource your telephone customer support services to focus on your core business and that’s a great idea.
But, are you ready?
If you’re not sure that you are ready then the following questions may help you come to the right conclusion.
1. Do you have an easy to follow script for phone support to follow?
To answer this question, you might examine your own training processes that you’ve used to train current employees.
Do they have a standard way of answering the phone that has been tested and that you know works for your business?
For instance; Company A started their business and for the first few months answered their phones one way but quickly realized that there was a better way to answer that not only made it a better experience for their customers but also made it easier for them.
Company A documented this and put it into a template to train all future employees how to answer the phone.
If this is something you’ve done then you are likely ready or on your way to be ready to outsource your call center.
2. Do I have resources to find answers when the call goes off script?
There is no way to make an exact script for every situation that may arise and really even if it was possible a better solution is to provide a central resource where customer service representatives can find answers to most of the questions raised.
Many companies online have done this through a FAQ.
Compiling a list of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) and making it available to customers can be a great way to reduce customer confusion and thus to take the burden off your call center and it can also be a great way to provide a resource for your call center.
If you want to provide more information to your call center than the customer the solution is simple. Make a separate FAQ just for your customer support team.
Once you have considered those questions and if you feel that everything is in place you may want to consider what route you will go in choosing your call center solution.
What Call Center will you / your organization choose to represent your business?
The list of available call centers that wants your business can seem large and the differences somewhat indistinguishable.
How will you make your choice?
Ask yourself what you need from an offshore / outsourced call center.
Do you need 24 / 7 support 365 days a year or will more normal business hours be ok for your business?
Do you just need a live person for your customers to talk to that will take messages or do you need highly trained individuals trained specifically for your business?
Do you want an employee dedicated solely to your business that you pay a set salary or would you prefer a service that answers calls for many businesses and charges a base charge for up to a certain number of minutes and anything above that charges per minute.
Evaluating your business needs will make the difference in what company you choose to handle your call center needs.
Some reputable companies you may want to consider are:
Each has it’s strengths and weaknesses and which one you choose will depend largely upon the needs of your business.
Every business has it’s own unique way of doing things, it’s own software that it uses, or something peculiar to their business that requires some level of employee training.
Training your outsourced workers is crucial to the success of outsourcing your business processes.
How can you train your outsourced workers?
The best way to do this is with documentation & videos.
Do you have your processes documented?
It can be as simple as using a program like word to do a step by step description of how you handle certain tasks and adding screen shots to the document.
If you don’t have word and prefer not to pay for expensive software, a great free word processing program can be downloaded at http://www.openoffice.org
It also comes with spreadsheet capability and a great community of people that can help with support.
For video the most commonly used and very effective method is to use screen capture software.
For those with a limited budget you can get screen capture software for free called cam studio.
Another widely used and extremely full featured software is camtasia which if you have the budget for it is well worth the investment for training purposes.
The best way to train offshore workers is to use a combination of both video and written documentation. By writing out steps to go along with the video if your outsourced worker can’t remember something in the video he / she can save time by looking at your well written documentation rather than watching the whole video again.
However you choose to do your training it is a must to have some sort of documentation so that your workers will be able to easily accomplish the tasks you have provided.
A great resource for training your employees to give excellent customer service can be found here.
One of the easiest places to start outsourcing some of your work is in hiring a virtual assistant but it can also be tricky to get an assistant that will be an asset to your team. It can also be confusing to choose a source for hiring your assistant and many have a negative experience on their first attempt at hiring offshore workers to be virtual assistants.
If you take a little bit of time though you may find that hiring a competent offshore virtual assistant is one of the best things you’ve ever done for your business.
When hiring a virtual assistant there are really only a few options:
- Hire one directly through classifieds, etc
- Use a freelance job auction site
- Use a company that specializes in hiring virtual employees.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each option but if this is your first time hiring a VA (virtual assistant) then you’ll probably want to go with option 2 or 3.
Choosing option 2 or 3 will usually minimize the risks associated with hiring an outsourced worker but you will still need to follow some basic “best practices”.
To start you need to make a realistic list of what your VA will be required to do. Be as specific as possible because just like any employee you might hire people usually like to know what is expected of them when they take a job on.
The key is to be realistic. Don’t expect that your VA or other remote worker will do every single thing that you do without any sort of direction.
If you know what you expect of your worker and make a clear outline of it you will likely be successful in the hiring process.
Always make it a primary goal that you will hire someone who has a fair mastery over the English language and that is willing to communicate job progress with you on a daily basis.
Last but not least (at least for this list) they should be willing and preferably eager to learn new things.
During the interview process make sure you use a service like skype or some similar service to conduct a real time interview. Ask for samples of their previous work and ask them to complete a small task that takes a very short amount of time during the interview.
If you use these tips to find your virtual employee / associate you will likely succeed on your first attempt at hiring offshore workers.
A highly recommended resource for finding outsourced labor including virtual assistants can be found here. We have hired very competent english language writers that also do virtual assistant tasks at $2.22 and $3.33 per hour and love the results.
Two of the hottest offshore countries to outsource your call center are India and the Philippines.
Which is better?
Most people are more familiar and used to the idea of outsourcing to India because it has been a center for outsourcing work that can be handled remotely for many years.
More recently, however, The Philippines has been developed as a great spot to outsource your offshore work to.
There are at least a few reasons to choose The Phillipines as your call center or other outsourced work center.
One reason is the accent. If you have ever had the experience of speaking with a technical support representative or a call center worker in India you probably have had at least some difficulty understanding the person on the other end of the conversation.
Filipinos on the other hand tend to have a generic accent that is much easier to understand. If you have ever been on a call with someone working out of a call center in the Philippines you likely didn’t even realize it. At most you would probably detect a slight foreign accent that you might expect of an Asian person that has lived in the US for most / all of his / her life.
The second reason to move your call center to the Philippines over India is the culture.
It would seem that over all the Filipino culture is a more polite one than India’s culture.
Communications with call center employees in the Philippines are more calming typically in the first place because of their way of communicating (you must compare the 2 side by side) and when customers get irate Representatives in the Phillipines are likely to remain calm when representatives in India are less likely to do so.
We base these observations only on personal experience and of course your experience may vary but after dealing with many representatives from both countries this is what we have observed.
That being said you can find great representatives in both countires however the culture in the Philippines seems to match up much better with Western cultures than India’s.
The third reason and final reason for the scope of this article is the cost.
Both countries have similar reliability (very reliable as long as you choose the correct businesses to represent you) but the Philippines is from our observation also a bit less expensive for many tasks including Call Center representatives.
Armed with this information you can hopefully make a great choice in where you decide to outsource your call center.
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