We've compiled this list of tips for small call centers looking to manage and improve call center performance. Get tips from the experts on everything from building a new call center to evaluating small call center software.
Starting and setting up a small call center
Tip: Building a call center for a small business
According to call center expert Lori Bocklund, building a call center is no small task. Lori suggests making a decision about whether or not to deploy Software as a Service (SaaS) right away. First, figure out if SaaS is a good fit for your business goals, then adjust planning accordingly.
Tip: Turning a small inbound call center into an inbound and outbound call center
When making this transition, Lori suggests taking a "people, process and technology" approach. Will your current inbound call center agents be able to transition to making outbound calls as well? Who will take inbound calls and who will make outbound calls? What type of call center technology do you need? These are just a few of the questions Lori recommends you answer as you plan out your call center's transition.
Tip: Can companies of all sizes use hosted call centers?
Former SearchCRM.com expert Alan Winters recommends a hosted call center approach for companies that are just starting out and looking to get up and running quickly with little up-front investment. Companies have three basic hosting models to choose from:
- Hosted network work services
- Managed service provider
Evaluating small call center software
Tip: Getting buy-in for small call center software
If you need to convince senior management to invest in call center technology, customer experience expert Lior Arussy recommends pointing out how the call center software you're evaluating can help address the challenges your call center faces. Lior also suggests focusing on customer experience-based ROI, not cost reduction.
Tip: SaaS vs. on-premise call center software for small businesses
For small call centers that want enterprise-like capabilities, SaaS can be the obvious choice, says former SearchCRM.com expert Steve Raye. Steve also recommends the SaaS model for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to test out speech analytics technology without a large up-front investment.
Tip: Getting started with online customer service and self-service
According to expert Jim Berkowitz, SMBs have a lot of customer service product options to choose from. Before making a purchase, Jim recommends companies assess the strengths and weaknesses of current customer service representatives, call center processes and technologies to identify which areas need improvement.
Tip: Open source call center software for small call centers
Since open source software is very much a "do-it-yourself" project, requiring a dedicated IT staff to install and maintain the product, it's usually the small call centers that opt for the model, says call center expert Donna Fluss. Because of this, most open source call center software on the market is aimed at small call centers that only need basic features and aren't too concerned with integration.
Tracking a small call center's performance
Tip: Call center benchmarking for a small call center
According to Lori, most call center benchmarks aren't driven by call center size, but by things like business goals, caller expectations and staffing budgets. Some call center metrics, like service level, are used in most call centers; however, a smaller call center should adjust metrics like these based on the fact that they may have a smaller queue.
Tip: Understanding call center occupancy in a small call center environment
In a small call center, call center agent occupancy (or utilization) tends to be lower because of the randomness of call arrivals, says Lori. In other words, small groups usually have more idle time, waiting for the next call to come in.
Small call center management tips
Tip: Balancing call center workload in a small call center
Managers of small call centers often find it difficult to schedule time for agents to do non-phone work while still having enough people available on the phones. Lori recommends call center managers in this type of situation schedule non-phone work time part of the day, and weave some of the less demanding non-phone tasks in while agents are waiting for calls.