Call Center Agent Job Description and Duties

woman speaking on headsetWorking in a call center can be a great opportunity for professional development and personal growth.

The right candidate will have excellent communication skills, good organization, and an eye for detail. We have outlined here some of the different job duties, necessary skills, and qualifications below. As well we discuss what our agency will do to provide support to our call center specialists.

Job Duties

Your typical day in a call center includes taking phone calls from clients who are looking for some type of customer service. Our extensive training programs will prepare you to gather the required information from the clients, and verify that information in our database. You will then proceed to bring the call to an appropriate resolution, with the goal of providing outstanding service to the caller.

You are expected to gain familiarity with the products and procedures through ongoing educational opportunities. Not only will you need this familiarity to understand the products and procedures yourself, but also to explain them to clients. It is important to have a firm understanding of all concepts before communicating them to our clients so that they feel confident that you are able to assist them properly.

Excellent customer service skills, familiarity with our products, and quick attention to any technical issues you may experience will ensure your success in this area. The goal is to provide the customer with service that will benefit them, so it is important to be able to communicate clearly to meet their needs.

Skills and Qualifications Needed

female call center agentThe perfect candidate for a position in a contact center will have strong interpersonal communication skills. They will be professional and courteous at all times, and remember to keep themselves customer-focused, putting the customer’s needs first. They will keep in mind that one of their jobs is to provide information and support to customers who may not be familiar with our company’s products or procedures. Previous phone experience is a bonus as it will make your transition that much easier.

Call center specialists are required to have great attention to detail even while multi-tasking. They should be able to obtain information from clients, enter it into the computer, and verify it without losing focus. Strong, accurate data entry skills are a must. Applicants should be comfortable using a computer and a phone simultaneously, and should be quick to learn computer software.

Agent Support

Our goal is for our call center specialists to be as informed and successful as possible. We ensure this by providing regular updates on products, communicating our organization’s mission with you, and offering continual educational opportunities for you to better your skills. We understand that helping our agents to improve themselves will benefit not only them, but the customer as well.

In turn, we ask for our call center specialists to keep the line of communication open at all times. This includes promptly communicating any technical or equipment issues so that they can be addressed, adhering to all standards and guidelines, and recommending any procedural improvements that should be made to streamline the process and provide better customer service.

Overall

Working in a call center is extremely valuable work. Call center specialists provide front-line support between us and our customers, making them highly valued members of our team. Furthermore, call center specialists will never be bored. Between phone calls, data entry, and ongoing training opportunities, there’s always something to do. If you enjoy continual customer interaction in a fast-paced environment, then a position as a call center agent may be right for you. Contact KPI Connect today about joining our team.

 

9 Benefits of Outsourcing to a Call Center

Some Ways Outsourcing to a Call Center Benefits Businesses

Outsourcing some of your phone contact with your customers is a valuable business concept that deserves some serious consideration. In addition to saving money, there are many advantages to a call center as opposed to setting up an in-house option.

  1. Customer Satisfaction: By outsourcing to a call center, businesses can offer customer service that is available outside their normal operating hours. This helps to reduce customers having to wait until the next day or the next week to find a solution to their problems. With call centers located in different time zones it has made the opportunity for expanded hours of availability a reality.

 

  1. Ready To Roll: Setting up all of the systems required to handle customer service calls in-house can be a costly and time-consuming task for any business. The immediate advantage to outsourcing these calls to a professional call center is that the facilities, equipment, and training are already in place and being used by other companies.

 

  1. Cost Reduction: While cutting costs isn’t the only benefit to outsourcing customer service, it is one that comes up most often. Since contact centers serve multiple clients, the costs involved are shared among many, rather than one business footing the bill. This way, clients pay only for the services needed on a transactional or per-hour basis.

 

  1. Profitability: Call centers are great at what they do, and they know how to get the most bang for your buck. Their business model is generally based on costs per transaction, and they have the measurement of per-call costs down to an exact science to ensure maximum profit.

  1. Experience: With years of experience in customer service, contact centers possess a strong understanding of what services are required for a variety of industries. By outsourcing the customer service end, the client can leave it in capable hands and focus on their core business.

 

  1. Efficiency: Due to their experience in the field, call centers can improve efficiency by scheduling more staff to work during peak hours, slashing idle time and lowering the cost-per-call rate. Many businesses find that their customer service call volume increases during seasonal periods or major promotional campaigns. Contact centers have the resources to quickly add staff for these busy times of the year.

 

  1. Knowledge: As they are familiar with a number of different clients’ processes, call centers offer a wide spectrum of skills and knowledge, making them adaptable and flexible. They are specialized service providers with particular expertise in workforce planning, quality assurance, technology, and training.

 

  1. Technology: Rather than trying to keep up with current technology in-house, businesses can trust contact centers are always on the cutting edge. Multi-channel customer contact is essential these days and they can handle it all, from cloud-based platforms, VoIP, and web chat to email, SMS text messages, and social media. They also offer data analysis technology that can mine the raw data for valuable insight into a customer base.

guy speaking with contact center

  1. Quality Control: Through monitoring tools, performance assessments, and improvement plans, call centers ensure that they maintain the highest level of quality. Their most urgent priorities are answer time and first-call resolution, whereas an in-house call center may not have the time or resources to devote to such a high standard of quality control.

 

Here at KPI Connect we have been offering these services to our customers for years. We have the knowledge, resources, and expertise to ensure you get great value, and your customers receive excellent service. Call today for more details. 1-877-828-5057

Infographic reviewing benefits of having another company help your customers over the phone.

What Is the Difference between Inbound and Outbound Call Centers?

There are advantages to both inbound and outbound call centers. Each serves a specific purpose. Each center serves to support a business in marketing and sales. Both inbound and outbound centers are essential to the functioning of an organization. There are clearly defined differences between both types of call centers. This is a description of the essential functions of each.

Inbound Call Centers

 

Inbound call centers handle incoming calls from clients. Because these call centers handle the majority of incoming business phone calls, they are very customer service oriented. Clients call an inbound center when they have questions, need a solution to a problem, or are interested in conducting further business with a particular company.

 

  • Tech Support: One of the major functions of an inbound call center is tech support. When consumers or businesses have problems with technical issues, they will call an inbound call center for a solution. The tech support agents will run diagnostics as appropriate, and expertly guide clients through the process of resolving technical problems.
  • Customer Support: Clients will telephone an inbound call center with questions pertaining to a particular service. Inbound calls are essential for providing excellent service and superior customer experiences. Customer support is provided to customers in a friendly and professional manner. Customers call up for a variety of reasons for which they expect agents to be versed in a resolution and possess the ability to provide options.
  • Response to Advertising: This is another customer advantage to inbound call centers. Clients call an inbound center to inquire about a posted advertisement. Often this inquiry will generate a sale. The inbound call center agents are specially trained in the company for whom they are servicing. They familiarize themselves with the products and services the company offers so they are equipped to discuss the products with current and potential clients.

 

Customers invest a lot of time and trust into inbound call centers to provide them with the services they are seeking. In order to be provided with excellent service from an inbound call center, there needs to be mutual respect and understanding between agents and clients.

 

Outbound Call Centers

 

An outbound call center tends to handle a whole set of different services than an inbound call center. Rather than a client telephoning a call center, the opposite occurs with an outbound call center. Outbound call centers can be focused on generating and following up with leads and driving sales, or outbound Customer Service tasks. Outbound call centers are associated with several specific functions.

 

  • Customer Service: Because customer service is critical for most successful businesses, there are some tasks that can be handled by outbound agents. If a company needs to schedule times with their customers, then appointment setting would be a useful solution. Appointment reminders are also a valuable use of an outbound service to minimize lost time due to missed appointments.
  • Market Research: Often outbound call centers are responsible for conducting market research. This can include telephoning customers and conducting surveys relating to customer service and experience. Surveys serve a variety of purposes and can help companies make improvements in areas where they may be lacking. Market research is essentially the process of gathering information from consumers regarding their preferences and needs.
  • Lead generation: This is a very important function of an outbound call center. One of the essential steps in lead generation is for outbound agents to identify a company’s target market. This is where lead generation is vital. Leads need to be generated for the specific target market. The target market are consumers who are the most likely to purchase or use the product or service. Two main types of lead generation are B2B and B2C. Both serve to drive sales. Companies rely heavily on outbound call center agents to properly generate leads to build a client base and drive sales.
  • Sales: One main duty for many outbound call center agents is to make sales. With the generated leads, agents telephone potential clients to make sales. The main way the agents make significant company sales is through up-selling and cross-selling. Up-selling is the process of attracting customers to a more expensive product than the one they intended to purchase. Cross-selling is the process of persuading clients to purchase additional products to go with the product they originally intended.

 

Outbound call center agents are well trained in sales techniques and company specific products so they have the proper tools to make sales. Often the outbound call center is the main sales force for a company.

 

Advantages to outsourcing

 

Both types of call centers are commonly outsourced, which provides a lot of benefits to a company. The functions of both types of call centers are both costly and time consuming. Many companies experience a lot of advantage in outsourcing their call centers.

 

  • Cost effectiveness: Cost Outsourcing call centers provide their own employees and training structure which saves companies a lot of money by not having to employ and train their own.
  • Increased Productivity:A huge advantage to outsourcing is the ability of call centers to focus on core functions such as sales, customer service, and lead generation. Agents are trained specifically for these functions which helps companies reduce the work load of their in-house employees.
  • Brand Representation: Agents are specially trained on the products and services of each company. They become well versed with the ins and outs of each company so they can effectively attract the target market and make and close sales
  • Analysis and Collection of Data: An outsourced call center has the ability to train employees in data collection and analysis. This specialized area trains them to understand company trends, collect data based on client spending habits and experiences, and analyze this data to ultimately drive sales.

 

When companies use inbound and outbound call centers, they are entrusting their customers and clients will experience an excellent level service. The differences between the two cell centers are very specific and each serve a crucial function to a company. Both are customer based, but with very different specific goals. Whenever customers interact with a call center, they deserve quality service by competent agents, and that is exactly what the receive. At KPI Connect we have extensive experience offering both types of service, and we would love to discuss solutions we can offer your business.

infographic discussing difference between outbound and inbound call centers

Call Center vs Contact Center. What’s the difference?

 

Traditionally many companies, especially telecommunications companies and service organizations, have used call centers. As the name implies, call centers handle calls. You may also have heard about contact centers, but what are they? Which one is best? Let’s look at call center vs contact center and see what the difference is between them.

Difference between Call Center vs Contact Center

 

The main difference between a call center and a contact center is that they offer different services.

Call centers have been used for many years and only deal with phone calls. The calls are both inbound and outbound as they are known in the trade, or incoming and outgoing to you and I. When you phone up your bank or your phone provider, you are almost certainly speaking to an employee in a call center. The call center could be owned and operated by the company, or an external organization. The emphasis within a call center is on the calls, and their success is monitored through their call statistics like how quickly are calls answered or how many calls are dealt with per hour.

In customer service terms, a ‘contact’ is somebody who has contacted the organization through any means. Therefore a contact center deals with communication in all types whether it be the phone, email, coupon or social media. If you enter a competition to win a box of chocolates, your entry whether on a torn out coupon from a magazine, email, or website, the entry goes to the contact center. They pass the details to the chocolate company and you are now a contact so you will receive information or marketing from that company. Contact centers monitor their success on statistics around the number of contacts and the channels used i.e. phone, coupon, web etc.

Although the terms are used interchangeably, you can clearly see that there are differences between the two. So which one should you use?

 

 Call Centers Offer the Following Services.

 Telephone Customer service for incoming calls.

  • Telephone Customer service through outgoing calls.
  • Handle heavy volumes of telephone contact.
  • Telephone technical support i.e. a helpdesk.
  • Telephone support for order placement and status.
  • Telephone surveys of customers and potential customers to provide better service.
  • Can be on-site, off-site, or virtual.
  • Agents often adhere to a specific customized script.

 Benefits of Using a Call Center.

Very large companies often have a call center as part of their business. If you are a company dealing with a large number of incoming and outgoing phone calls, then a call center is vital. Call centers are particularly beneficial to businesses, as it means they can concentrate on their business while the time intensive phone queries and interactions are handled by someone else.

 

  • Handle large numbers of incoming calls.
  • Deal with large numbers of outgoing calls.
  • Tend to be experts at what they do as they concentrate on one thing.

Contact Centers Offer These Services:

 Incoming customer service for all contacts in multiple formats; mail, email, social media, phone, web queries, live chats.

 Benefits of Using a Contact Center.

Contact centers handle large numbers of queries through all types of media. Contact center agents require good people skills due to the social media transactions they carry out. A thoughtless comment on social media can easily go viral.

  • Handle queries on different communication channels.
  • Deal with heavy volumes of mixed media contact.
  • Generally available 24/7.
  • Works well for businesses in different countries and time zones.
  • Other forms of media usually are more cost effective than phone calls.
  • Live chat is growing in use and customer satisfaction as it becomes more successful.

 Contact Center, or Call Center, or Both?

Both call centers and contact centers provide customer service, but as you can see, both perform different functions and there are benefits to both. Depending on your business needs, you might require specific services from one or the other, or possibly even both.

The 4P’s of Social Media Marketing

Social media and social networking have taken the world by storm. From the individual frequently updating details of their daily activities, to companies using it as a promotion tool for winning new business and maintaining healthy relationships with their customers, we see this form of engagement catapulting its way to the forefront of our daily lives. As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to the trends and changes within the environment, social media and social networking blazes its way into organisations, becoming a key functional area, embedded into corporate strategies.

-Target, America’s third largest retailer and fast-growing social brand, uses social media to send customized posts based on users’ locations as well as a digital coupon dispenser.

-Global telecommunications provider Sprint, has two facebook pages: 1 page which provides special offers and discussion boards and another which offers free ringtones.

All companies should keep the following in mind when embarking on a social media/networking strategy:

-What goal does my company’s social networking page and content aim for?
-What tone should be conveyed in each post?
-Who am I trying to attract?
-Remember the principles of good grammar and punctuation.

So how do you effectively tailor your content to ensure optimal exposure across the various social networks your company employs? Let’s explore the topic by looking at what we’ve termed as the 4P’s of SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.

Be PUNCHY:

One must have an immediate impact with the content being delivered. Posting content on social networking sites has as its biggest limitation; the number of characters allotted in a single post. Twitter is a prime example, where bloggers are restricted to a maximum of 140 characters to convey a single thought or message to the audience. This means that there is no room for the ‘flowery’ language and fillers that we have become accustomed to in our everyday writing. Content needs to be precise and straight to the point. Facebook in recent years became more lenient with its character limitations. From its inception, users were allotted character limits of 160 to 420 (in 2009) to 500 (in 2011) to 5,000 (in 2011) and finally over 60,000 (late 2011). Though content bloggers or ‘facebookers’ enjoy this increase, businesses need to bear in mind that only a brief portion of this high-character content appears within the news feed update of the reader/subscriber. This means that within at least 100 characters (spaces included), you need to be precise and punchy, inspiring the reader to perform the call to action of clicking the continue to read more option, be it on the same network or through the provision of a back-link to an article or blog site, where there is more freedom with your discourse.

Be PERSONABLE:

When implementing a social media/networking strategy, keep in mind that this is your company’s opportunity to get deeply involved with its clients and community on a level that inspires high round-the-clock engagement as well as the possibility of positive consumer/buyer actions. That being the case, one must present the company as being personable. After-all, its social media; ‘let’s get social’.

One’s approach should be to have a pleasant online appearance and manner, adopting a soft sell strategy rather than a hard sell, where readers/followers/fans are engaged by asking thought provoking questions, guaranteed to spark interesting page or forum discussions. Be an available resource for any questions or queries posed by your online community, always willing to offer help when it is needed and if you are unable to provide an immediate solution or answer directly, be eagerly willing to seek the information or refer to a relevant third party.

It is okay to share the content of others on your page. Your business like its followers will have varying interests. Part of adopting a personable approach would be to show your community that you both have similar interests. Provide interesting links to blogs or media about topics that are related to your company’s operations. A department store distributor like PC Richard & Sons carrying a wide range of computer or electronic brands maybe likely to share content from a software developer’s page for example Apple or Microsoft because of the hand-in-hand complement that one lends to the other’s operations.

Highlight your page’s achievements. When your company page has reached a milestone in the number of followers, likes/shares, make mention of the achievement. Also highlight accomplishments of your company as well as staff. Take the opportunity through this platform to showcase your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

PENETRATE:

Offer engaging, compelling, relevant, conversation provoking content”.

Any content posted is done under the objectives of attaining the following actions:

-Like your page/post/blog
-Follow company
-Leave a comment
-Share the content
-Learn more
-Visit a website

The bottom line of it all is that your social media/networking strategy will only be successful if the information being shared is compelling and interesting enough to drive positive as well as profitable consumer action. That said, you should know your community. What topics best attract the type of follower you will be catering to? How regular do you intend to offer content to these persons?

Wherever possible, write content in the active voice rather than the passive voice. Adopting this type of style makes your content a lot stronger by giving credit to an action, plus you use fewer words to convey messages.

PUNCTUATION & Grammar

While you adapt a personal somewhat informal approach, this becomes no excuse for obvious use of incorrect punctuation and grammar. As mentioned before, the issue of character limits may restrict an individual from fully punctuating a post as needed. To remedy this, use abbreviations:

-Contractions: Abbreviated versions of a word or words. For example: replacing missing letters with an apostrophe:- don’t, can’t, shouldn’t, he’s
-Compressing words: Mr., Dr., Prof., Rev.
-Initialism: abbreviations that are pronounced one letter at a time. Example: FBI, HTML, IBM, DVD
-Acronyms: these are abbreviations that are pronounced as words

Remember, when using acronyms and abbreviations only use those that are highly recognized by your community. No one wants to read a post and not understand what they are reading. In addition, let’s not overuse abbreviations in one single post. Can you imagine reading a single thought written fully in an abbreviated form? I can’t either.

However, there maybe instances where standard punctuation and incorrect use of grammar could be accepted. In countries or communities where there is a strong national language or dialect, it may work in a company’s favour to post content using local languages or vernacular to appeal to nationalistic senses of your community. This works only in cases where the community spans over a relatively small geographic area as opposed to global companies with global brands. Be that as it may, whether you write using the standard form of English or a dialect, there are fundamentals that guide its use.

 

Author: Dexter R. Norville, Director Marketing (KPI Connect)

infographic discussing 4 P's of social media marketing

The Nearshore Experience

Map_Blog_Nearshore_Outsourcing

What do you get when you combine the cost advantages of outsourcing offshore services with the quality and control achieved from outsourcing onshore? "A Nearshore Experience”. The term first introduced by Softtek (a global provider of process driven IT solutions and global nearshore operator) in 1997, is defined simply as a form of outsourcing that refers to services delivered from a nearby location, very close in geographical proximity.  Businesses willing to venture into such strategic partnerships do so with the mindset of gaining access to World Class Capabilities. However, the achievement of world class capabilities and competitive advantages in some instances isn’t met without challenges and concerns that operators (both vendors and clients) must seek to address before engaging in any form of exchange.  These concerns include (but are not limited to):

  • Infrastructural challenges
  • Cultural differences
  • Accents
  • Language ability
  • Contractual constraints
  • Possibility of reductions in service levels

The Nearshore model seeks to address and remedy these concerns as a strategic alternative to achieving business excellence through process outsourcing. Nearshoring primarily allows business consumers gains in the following three main areas:

  • Proximity: close geographical locations
  • Close cultural affinity
  • Cost savings

While additional benefits of this type of engagement include:

  • On par hourly rates with offshore labour
  • Lower travel expenses
  • Time-zone advantages
  • Highly skilled & talented workforce
  • Lower political risks
  • Comparable IT skills & infrastructures
  • Considerably lower attrition rates

 

Let’s take the experience a step further. Nearshore operators enjoy the added benefit of having a lower Total Cost of Engagement (TCE) than offshore operators. What is this? TCE evaluates the total expenditures of offshore engagements. It is easy for an offshore vendor to advertise or boast lowest costs and lowest hourly rates in comparison to onshore based vendors. But what about the additional costs they incur making them essentially more expensive than a nearshore choice? Hence, the term TCE was coined, highlighting the competitiveness of opting for a nearshore vendor.

Additional costs include:

[photo credit: www.sciodev.com]

graphEngagement Managers: These managers are tasked with the responsibility of liaising with the outsourced vendor ensuring programs are run in alignment with the organization’s goals. This more than likely includes travel to the remote locations at least twice a year, or as the client sees fit given the program’s duration.

Team Leads: The bigger the contact center the more team leads are required. It is recommended that there be a team lead for every 6-10 center agents. These leads primarily connect directly with the client (Engagement Manager), where all reporting is done. This being the case, team leads need to be highly competent and proficient to ensure constant effective and relevant communication to the engagement managers. Not having the right employee fit in the role may result in time wastage, deviation from functional and operational goals and a slow-down in the decision-making processes. Thus it is expected that a team lead is hired at a higher pay grade than your agent seats.

Staff Turnover: The monetary costs as well as time cost invested to recruit and select a skilled competent workforce adds its weight to the concept of TCE. High staff turnovers usually seen in offshore operations increase the overall costs incurred by a company. When training is constantly repeated as a result of high attrition, it frustrates the productivity of a company when benefits to be gained from the learning curve effect cannot be fully realized.

Travel: Increases in global fuel prices, have caused travel to become an expensive luxury, especially to locations not within a close geographic proximity.

Where's the focus at for 2014?

Industry professionals report that one of the growing trends for 2014 is that increasingly more businesses currently outsourcing their customer contact operations will shift focus from cost savings to realizing higher quality in the delivery of customer service. Companies are now willing to pay more to have their process outsourcing services onshore or nearshore.

KPI Connect has recognized the industry’s need for the provision of world class capabilities and has thus aligned operations with this trend. We exist to provide world class support that seamlessly integrates with our clients, enabling growth through enhancement of the experience of their customers.

 

Author: Dexter R. Norville, Director Marketing (KPI Connect)