Virtual Call Center

Answer the Call with a Virtual Call Center

What is a virtual call center?

A virtual call center is a customer service call center where the agents answering calls are not in a geographically centralized location. They are in disparate locations, either people working from home or a several offices, but are connected via virtual call center software or online call center software. This is a great strategy for companies that provide support via a contact center to customers in various time zones or are looking to reduce the overhead costs of a centralized office.

As a voice over internet (VoIP) technology, Zendesk Voice is quick to configure, and management is simple. Since it live in the cloud, Agents can use Zendesk Voice anywhere in the world -- they just need a good internet connection and headphones.

A different approach

Providing phone support with call centers (outbound or inbound) is nothing new. Companies have been offering service this way for about as long as household phones have been commonplace. However, there have always been some major problems associated with this approach which can be mitigated with a virtual contact center:
  • Inconvenient business hours. Many companies have customers all over the world, something that is more true today than ever before. However, not all companies have offices all over the world. The result of this is service is limited to the business hours associated with the geographic location of the call center. If a client is unable to contact the company during those hours because they live in a different part of the world, they will find it very difficult to receive support. That’s bad for the customer but also bad for the company, because the customers now in danger of taking their business elsewhere.
  • Employee turnover. Unlike in functions like sales and marketing, support agents who work at call centers tend not to stick around very long, meaning management is constantly training new employees, and more customers will speak with inexperienced agents. While this can’t always be avoided, enticing employees with flexible hours and the ability to work from home can convince them to stay longer than they might otherwise. This reduces the cost of hiring and training new employees, and increases the number of veteran support agents.

Best practices

Managing a virtual call center can sometimes be hard. The lack of face to face interactions between managers and support agents can make it difficult to effectively manage and improve call center performance, and keep agents up to date with relevant information. Here are some tips to help manage an effective virtual contact center:
  • Foster communication. Managers should communicate as frequently and proactively as they expect their team to. Managing remote employees shouldn’t require micromanagement, but may involve taking some extra time to listen, to say hello in the morning or at the beginning of a shift, and being generally available (or providing alternate contacts) to team members.
  • Improve visibility. Managers and remote employees must actively work on fostering both praise and constructive feedback, and on building trust. If managers can place the emphasis on performance and delivery, and look for opportunities to coach and fill gaps in training, a virtual team has the potential to run like a well-oiled machine. Support must also do it's part to communicate what it learns with other departments, like sales and marketing.
  • Bring the team in for a customer care in-office retreat with opportunities for shadowing, team building, lunches or dinner, meet and greets, or happy hours.
  • Surprise individuals who are doing a good job with a gift card delivered to their email inbox.
  • No matter your industry, consider tools that will help your team work remotely— such as tablets, headphones, phone upgrades—as tangible rewards. Can you budget for an annual team raffle?

The right time

Not all companies require a cloud-based virtual call center, but the ones that do greatly benefit from using one. In particular, companies that don’t have global offices but still do business around the world might choose to use a virtual call center. Likewise, companies that find there’s no reason for support agents to be in close physical proximity will often find it more cost effective to employ a virtual call center. Doing so can improve customer service quality and agent productivity.

How Zendesk helps

Zendesk customer service software offers Zendesk Talk, cloud-based call center software that can be the cornerstone of a world-class virtual call center platform. As a voice over internet (VoIP) technology, Zendesk Talk is quick to configure and maintain. Agents can use Zendesk Voice anywhere in the world -- they just need a good internet connection and headphones.

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