Respondents asked to list what frustrated them most about poor customer service, identified the following as their top concerns:
- Repeating themselves to several agents
- Dealing with agents who don’t have the skills or knowledge to assist.
According to Daria Leshchenko, CEO of supportyourapp.com, companies may solve these issues with a highly-trained and engaged support team working 24/7. Small to medium-sized firms lacking the resources to manage this should consider outsourcing the function.
We asked Daria what to look for in call center services for small businesses. She gave us some excellent pointers.
Call Center Services For Small Businesses
Why Consider Outsourcing Call Center Services For Small Businesses?
When the company is small, managing client queries is easy. Employees are easily able to answer questions timeously. As the company expands, client support becomes more challenging to manage.
Expanding a small support department into a full-time call center represents a significant investment in cost and labor. Outsourcing allows businesses to scale up operations quickly to meet growing demand.
Source: Jeff Bullas
What to Look for in Call Center Services For Small Businesses
Daria emphasizes the importance of vetting any potential call centers for small business. She identifies the following as critical factors:
- A Good Fit With Your Company Culture: In any business partnership, both organizations must have similar cultures and values.
- Motivated Team: How well the business supports their staff impacts how well the employees will treat clients. According to Statista, one of the top motivating factors for American workers is a good working environment.
- Human Support: Research by PwC found that 74% of consumers worldwide expect companies to provide more human interaction in the future. According to Microsoft, 35% of consumers prefer phone or voice support over any other channel.
- The Right Attitude: Outsourced employees should have outstanding communication skills, a high degree of emotional intelligence, resourcefulness, and passion.
- Conversant With Your Product: A call center must be familiar with the product to provide clients with prompt advice. Look for a company that allows employees to test the product and requests all available literature about it.
- Multi-Lingual Support: With firms increasingly operating globally, it’s becoming more critical to offer multi-lingual support.
- Omnichannel Support: Clients today expect to be able to interact with firms via multiple channels. Companies should ensure that their call centers support the channels that their target market is most likely to use.
- Full-Service Monitoring: Being able to monitor client interactions is a valuable service tool. Firms should ask whether they’ll have the ability to listen to recorded conversations and access client messages.
- Integration With Your CRM: Companies should check that the BPO provider’s system will integrate into their own. Where firms aren’t using a CRM, a good BPO provider will provide them with a solution.
Testing the Small Business Call Center: Patterns of Quality Service
Daria advises testing the small business call center before signing up. A reputable firm will be able to provide details of some clients that they support. As a test, firms should have someone call the support numbers for these companies.
Does the agent meet all the criteria listed in the checklist below?
Source: Tech Target
Setting Service Level Agreements for Call Centers for Small Business
Firms must carefully analyze the proposed service level agreements that the BPO provides. Companies should, in particular, check the following.
The industry standard is to answer 80% of calls in 20 seconds. The Call Center Helper 2019 survey shows that many call centers miss the mark. More interestingly, perhaps, is that several providers now answer the majority of calls within 15 seconds.
The researchers classified this as a “Boosted service level.” It’s a service level to which companies should aspire.
Source: Call Center Helper
Other benchmarks include:
- Emails answered within 24 hours at most.
- Live chats answered within 20 seconds.
- Social media posts within a few minutes.
- SMS or Instant Messaging: 80% of messages within 40 seconds.
Quality Assurance (QA) Scoring
How often does the provider monitor calls to assess how well their agents are doing? Many call centers only monitor one call a week. The more serious the provider is about quality, the more they’re likely to monitor calls.
First Contact Resolution
Research from HDI shows that there’s a direct correlation between first query resolution and customer satisfaction.
No service providers will commit to a specific FCR rate upfront. They need time to assess the types of queries that they receive correctly. Companies should review the FCR rate going forward and consider adding it to the service level agreements when renewing the contract.
Average Handling Time
Again, this is difficult to assess upfront. Industry standards peg this number at around 6 minutes and 3 seconds. Firms should monitor calls for at least the first two weeks to determine if the call center agents are as efficient as possible.
It may also be helpful to provide a cheat sheet of commonly asked questions and their answers.
Ongoing Monitoring of Customer Service Levels
Handing over the calls to a call center doesn’t mean that companies can relax on the customer service front. When partnering with expert support specialists, companies should also evaluate service levels at other touchpoints.
Firms should train their frontline employees to act similarly to the phone support agents. Firms should obtain feedback from clients to ensure that they’re on the right track.
The Customer Satisfaction Score
The CSAT score is a simple measure of how happy the customer is with the company at a point in time.
The Net Promoter Score
The net promoter score is a straightforward metric that measures how likely the client is to recommend a business. The scores range from -100 at worst to 100 at best. The score is more useful than the CSAT because it’s an indicator of future behavior.
There are three types of consumer in this metric:
- Promoters: Are the most profitable category for companies. They’re out there acting as brand ambassadors for the firm and buying more. Bain’s research indicated that promoters are six to fourteen times more valuable over their lifetime than detractors.
- Passives: These are people who neither particularly like nor dislike the company. They’re not likely to speak about your brand at all.
- Detractors: Detractors actively dislike the brand. They’re likely to complain about the company and its services. It’s these consumers that brands must desperately try to win over to maintain a good reputation.
Firms monitoring their NPS should see an increase in net promoters due to the call center’s activity. If they do not, they should pay attention to the following:
The churn rate analyzes how many clients have stopped using the company’s products or services. If the churn rate increases, companies must investigate further to plug the leak.
Customer Effort Score
The metric here indicates how much effort it took for the consumer to have their query resolved. The higher the score, the higher the likelihood of the client being frustrated. It’s useful to measure this score alongside the FCR.
There is usually a correlation between a decrease in FCR and an increase in Customer Effort Score.
Passive Data Collection Methods
Passive data collection is something of a misnomer as these methods are often labor-intensive. In these instances, you collect data from interactions with the client, rather than asking them to complete a survey.
You might, for example, monitor service calls or read comments on social media.
There are several benefits to this method of information gathering:
- It involves no effort on the client’s part. You neither irritate the client nor have to wait for their response.
- Companies can drill down into issues that are bothering the customer.
- Client bias falls away to a large extent.
Act on the Feedback
Whether you request feedback or gather it passively, there’s one golden rule. Act on it. Take constructive steps to change outdated procedures and make changes to products as possible. The action allows clients to see that you’ve taken their feedback seriously.
Your clients may forgive mistakes that a company makes, but they’ll always remember how firms treat them. By ensuring that clients get the outstanding service that they deserve, companies create a loyal fan base.
Providing outstanding service may be difficult for a small company with limited resources. For such companies, outsourced call centers prove to be a lifeline. Companies without the skills or infrastructure to support a 24/7 service line may access them quickly and easily.
Firms that take care to vet the service providers carefully upfront are more likely to form a mutually beneficial relationship. Companies should assess the service provider’s capabilities and ask pertinent questions about service delivery.
Companies may go so far as to set service level agreements to ensure that the provider understands their expectations. Once both parties reach an agreement, firms should consider how they’ll monitor customer service levels going forward.
The process involves some effort, but the rewards are great. Every detractor the company converts to a promoter earns the firm as much as 1,400% in increased revenue.