Call Center Services Pricing: Consider the Quality Assurance of Customer Service
Decades ago, businesses of all sizes started outsourcing their customer service as a way to reduce costs. While one big reason call centers are used today is to improve the bottom line, progressive companies turn to outsourcing their service as a way to provide exceptional customer care.
When looking to outsource your customer service to a call center, you want to be sure you know what you’re getting for the price. The quality of customer service provided is vital to your organization’s long-term success.
Here we’ll go over everything that factors call center services pricing and what to look for when choosing a provider.
Types of Call Centers
There are two primary types of call centers: inbound and outbound. The services you need a call center to perform will determine which type of call center to hire.
Call centers will have a variety of equipment and tools based on the services they provide, and many centers will have a variety of different specialties to fulfill various business needs. You’ll want to be sure the provider you choose has what it takes to meet all of your customer service needs.
Inbound Call Center – Call centers that take inbound calls typically work directly with customers. The service needs may involve helping manage accounts, answering questions about products or services, technical support, processing orders, or handling other issues that arise.
Outbound Call Center – Call centers that make outbound calls are typically hired to call prospective customers to make sales or generate leads. Some businesses also hire outbound call centers to call their customer database for various reasons, such as providing updates, cross-selling, or conducting surveys.
Call Center: Outsourcing vs. In-House
It’s typically cheaper to outsource your customer service than to have an in-house team handling it. The cost of having an employee on payroll is more than just their hourly pay. With employee taxes and benefits alone, it costs substantially more. Then, you have to factor in the cost of overhead and the additional space, equipment, and supplies needed for your agents to get the job done successfully.
Looking at the opposite point of view, having your customer service in-house is more costly, but it can give you more direct control over day-to-day operations. You can simply walk over to your service agents in the office and oversee the process. That is, if you have the extra time to do so.
Without a doubt, quality assurance of customer service is a concern for most business leaders. Customer service agents typically have a manager or someone overseeing their work to ensure customer satisfaction, so you need to factor in the costs of managers into the equation, too.
The main benefit of outsourcing to a call center is that you have everything handled all in one bundle — a dedicated team, including a manager to oversee the processes to ensure it meets your standards, as well as all the miscellaneous costs like overhead and equipment are already taken care of by the call center you’re outsourcing to.
Another huge advantage to outsourcing your call center is you have the option to provide service 24/7, even while your business is closed. Consumers today have higher expectations for service than ever before. They crave personalized service right when they need it, quickly and through the channel they choose.
Many outsourced call centers offer service through the common channels used, including phone, live chat, SMS, social media, and email. Be sure you pick a provider that provides the means of communication your customers want.
Call Center Pricing Determining Factors
There are many variables in the cost of hiring a call center. You want to be sure you understand your needs so you choose a call center provider that has what it takes to satisfy them successfully.
Here are some determining factors for call center pricing:
Inbound Call Center
Shared – Shared service is a provider having a pool of agents that take inbound calls for more than one client. This type of service gets billed on a per-minute basis. Shared service is commonly used by companies when their call volume fluctuates from busy to slow depending on the time of day or even time of year.
Dedicated – Dedicated service is a provider having a certain number of agents that solely take calls for one client. This service typically gets billed on an hourly basis. Companies that have a consistent high call volume commonly choose dedicated services.
Monthly – Some services bill on a monthly basis rather than by the minute or hour. Monthly billing commonly is only found with offshore providers.
Outbound Call Center
Hourly – Outbound call centers commonly offer an hourly rate for their services. They have a team of individuals making outbound calls to set appointments, generate leads, or make sales.
Commission – When a company hires a call center to make outbound calls for sales they typically have the option to pay commissions instead of an hourly rate. The amount of the commission varies depending on a number of factors. It normally amounts to a minimum of 10 percent over what the hourly rate would be to offset the high risk the call center is taking by contracting this way.
Hourly plus commission – The hourly plus commission pricing structure offers a lower hourly cost but an added commission for sales or leads generated. This pricing structure is typically preferred with outbound call centers since there are gains for both sides when sales are generated. This commission gives added benefits to the agents and motivates them to get the deal and bring in more revenue.
Location, Location, Location
One of the biggest factors that go into the cost of hiring a call center is their location. Onshore call centers (i.e. call centers in the same country as the business) often have additional fees for overhead, payroll, and taxes, making their services more costly.
Offshore call centers operate in another country. The top countries companies outsource to are China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Many businesses both large and small turn to offshoring call centers due to the cost savings.
These countries offer a lower cost of living, so their salaries are lower than in the US, making payroll costs substantially less. An overseas company’s overhead expenses and taxes are then also lower, so these providers are able to offer call center services at a much lower rate than an onshore organization.
Quality and Expertise
It takes skill and expertise to handle customer service successfully. Some call centers offer higher quality agents that are trained to specialize in providing top-notch, white glove service. They may offer these employees higher pay to ensure job satisfaction and that they do their best work.
Some companies have tech experts to help with any technical issues your clients have while using your service. Others offer bilingual services. But keep in mind, quality service and expertise come at a higher price. Cheaper is rarely better, though. This is especially true when outsourcing your work.
Many call centers offer some flexibility when it comes to their services. Suppose you have specific needs that are not in the realm of their standard service — flexible call centers can often put together precise teams specialized to your needs, even if it means going outside of the box a little. Of course, these additional services come at a cost.
When choosing a call center, you want to be sure they offer flexibility in matching your company culture, too. Remember, the call center agents will represent your brand, so it’s imperative they speak to your customers as if they’re part of your organization. They should model the same attitudes and styles as the culture your consumers admire.
Some call centers also offer other back-office support, like data entry, order entry, accounting, payroll, and logistics. Others may offer up-sell and cross-sell to existing customers as they call in.
Make sure you find a call center service that has the flexibility to accommodate your business needs now, and potential needs you may have in the future.
The times you need the call center to be available may alter the cost of their services. For example, you may only want service available 9-5 when your business is open. Another company may need customer service agents available 24/7, 365 days a year.
With most call centers nowadays, you also have the option to have agents service your customers through various channels. This availability may also affect the cost of their services.
How To Monitor the Quality Assurance of Customer Service
The truth is, around 90 percent of consumers choose a provider based on the quality of their service. One interaction with a strong service agent can build a closer bond for the customer, and they become loyal to your brand. On the other hand, one poor interaction with a service agent can cost you that customer and your brand’s image with negative online reviews.
So how can you be sure your call center is satisfying your customers’ needs and providing exceptional care? Of course, you can’t be over the shoulder of each customer service agent during every call to ensure they’re providing the five-star service you expect.
The best way to monitor the quality of work your call center is providing is simply to ask your customers, themselves.
There are many ways you can go about asking your customers for their feedback. Sending surveys after an interaction with an agent will help you understand how well your service satisfies your customers needs and how they feel about the care provided.
How To Make the Most Out of Your Call Center Services
The call center, in essence, is a branch of your business. They will be the ones to communicate with your customers, and may even handle some of your back-end duties.
Here are the best practices for working with a call center successfully:
It’s imperative to have clear communication from both sides. This is by far the most important aspect of a successful outsourcing relationship. You should receive feedback on any issues your customers have, any wins, and any changes necessary to provide the best service to your clientele.
You want to be sure you update your call center’s manager of any changes with your company, its products or services, policies, pricing, etc. The manager will be sure all agents who speak with your customers have all the knowledge needed to best care for them.
Be sure to inform your call center’s manager of the best times to reach you and your preferred method of communication.
Keep in mind, if you hire an offshore call center, your standard working hours may be very different from their time, so ensure you pick a time that works for you both.
You also want to let the call center know what you want to be informed about, what you don’t, and how often you want feedback. This will ensure you feel you are in the loop as much as you want to be.
Provide a Knowledge Base of Information
It’s best to make a list of all the common questions and any questions that your customers may ask, including the answers to the questions. You also want to provide the call center with all the details of your products and services including, how they work, the features, benefits, and anything else they should know about them.
The more you provide your call center with, the better they can answer questions that may come up. Your customers expect service quickly, in as few interactions as possible, so educate your team on all the aspects of your business so they can respond to inquiries accurately and quickly.
Call centers typically have their agents work off scripts. You can choose to have your agents stay on script or go off script when needed to personalize the service delivered.
You want to write scripts for all the different scenarios that may arise. These scripts will be the communication from the service agent to the customer. Ensure the script matches your company culture and how you want your business to be viewed in the eyes of your customers.
Keep in mind, millennials, especially, expect a more friendly, upbeat, personalized service. Whereas many baby boomers want a traditional, polite, and professional service. You’ll want to match your scripts to fit your target audience.
Provide Clear Goals and Expectations
When talking with your call center manager, be sure to be clear on your goals and expectations. You could offer additional incentives to reach certain goals or for exceptional performance.
What To Look Out For When Choosing a Call Center Provider
When choosing a call center, there are a few things to look out for. Here are essential things to consider when choosing a call center for your customer service:
Quality and performance – A spanking new call center is a deal-breaker for many businesses seeking services as these companies haven’t had time to work out the kinks. You want to be sure the call center has quality employees that can provide first-class service and satisfy your customers’ needs. Be sure they have the right equipment needed for the services you’re requesting, too, on top of experience.
Reliability and availability – Be sure the company is reliable with the right processes in place to handle the job at hand. You want to make sure they are available to provide service at the times your customers need it and through the method they choose.
Culture – Ensure the call center understands the importance of customer relationships and modeling your business’s culture. The call center should work with your customers as if they are in your office with the same attitudes, branding, and vibe.
Size – You want to be sure the call center has the number of staff needed to handle your call volume. This is especially true if your organization has an extensive customer database or already receives a high number of calls, even if only at certain times of day.
Price – While price is definitely important, be sure not to choose by price alone. The quality of service provided outweighs costs when it comes to your customers. When shopping by costs, compare quality vs. quality rather than choosing the lowest-cost provider. Remember, your business is on the line, and your customers deserve nothing less than exceptional service.
Experience and expertise – It’s true that some companies are in the customer service field but are not experts in providing exceptional customer care. It takes experience, knowledge, and training to know how to provide first-class service. It also takes dedication and care. Be sure the company you choose has a customer-first mindset and understands what it takes to provide a great customer experience.
Language – If you are hiring a call center overseas you want to make sure the staff that is handling your calls can speak and understand English fluently. These agents will be communicating with your customers both verbally and in writing so English speaking is a must.
All in All
Call center services are an excellent way to reduce costs to improve your bottom line and to provide excellent care to your customers.
Pricing for call centers depends on several factors, including services provided, location, and quality.
Quality assurance is a top priority to ensure your customers are satisfied with the services provided so they become loyal to your brand and refer others. Get valuable feedback from your customers to ensure they have a positive experience with your brand, every time.
Are you ready to hire a totally awesome call center to provide your customers with exceptional care and a great experience? If so, contact AwesomeOS today!
The global state of customer service – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog | Microsoft