Virtual call center: What it is, why it’s important & how to set it up

Learn all about virtual call centers, how they can improve customer support operations and how you can choose a good virtual call center solution for your business.

Pradeep Vasudev
September 14, 2023
8 min read

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Table of Contents

What is a virtual call center?

A virtual call center is very similar to an onsite call center, except for the fact that the agents aren't physically present at a company office. Instead, agents provide customer service offsite — resolving user issues from the comfort of their homes or preferred workspaces. 

Hybrid and remote work have become the new norm, making virtual call centers more important to your customer service strategy than ever. They allow your customer support teams to be flexible as circumstances change and the unexpected occurs — and enable agents to achieve a healthy work-life balance, boosting overall morale and job satisfaction and ultimately reducing agent burnout and churn rates. 

How does a virtual call center work? 

A virtual call center for inbound and outbound calls can be hosted in the cloud, enabling you to serve your customers from anywhere in the world, regardless of where they’re located or what time zone they’re in.  

With virtual call center models such as CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service), the whole ecosystem of call center agents and their managers stays connected by leveraging cloud-based call center software. Using a voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) phone system, agents can connect with callers across the globe. The phone system works in sync with other software and CRM integrations — unifying channels to provide a single, centralized source of data for agents. 

Virtual call centers vs. traditional call centers  

Mentioned below are some of the most significant differences between virtual and traditional call center setups. 

Aspect 

Virtual call centers 

Traditional call centers 

📍 Location 

Geographically dispersed agents 

Fixed physical location for operations 

🏢 Infrastructure 

Relies on cloud-based technology 

Requires on-site setup and equipment 

📈 Scalability 

Easily scales with virtual agents 

Limited by physical space and resources 

🌎 Agent diversity  

Access to the global talent pool 

Often limited to local talent 

⏱ Operating hours  

Flexible, 24/7 operations 

Fixed operating hours 

💲 Costs 

Lower setup and operational costs 

Higher setup and maintenance costs 

🧑🏻‍💻 Agent productivity 

More control over agent productivity 

Potential for distractions and downtime 

⚖️ Agent work-life balance 

Better work-life balance, might even have flexible hours 

Fix timing, commuting might impact work-life balance 

📱 Technology adoption 

Built on modern communication tools 

May require significant tech upgrades 

Importance of virtual call centers for businesses  

Virtual call centers are increasingly becoming the norm in the customer service industry, and there are strong reasons why every business is thinking of hopping on this trend. Below, we’ll discuss a few driving factors of why virtual call centers are lately being adopted a lot:    

1. Ability to expand business hours 

Even if you have customers all over the globe, it’s not always practical to have an office in every part of the world. Instead, with a virtual call center, you can expand your hours for when customers can reach you. This is an important step toward providing a better customer experience — which, in turn, can drive revenue and sales.    

2. Lower overhead costs   

A virtual workforce is less expensive to maintain because you eliminate the costs associated with operating a physical office space. When you have a cloud solution, maintenance costs are taken care of by providers. It’s the responsibility of the hosting provider to administer the infrastructure and hardware for running your software and storing data. In the case of a disaster within the geo-location, security or compliance requirements, the provider will handle all the associated overhead costs.    

3. Lower employee turnover  

Recent research shows that the majority of remote workers would continue to work remotely for the rest of their lives if given the choice. Having a virtual call center available gives your employees the option to work remotely from wherever they prefer, significantly reducing the company’s attrition rate.   

4. Ease of managing and monitoring your call center 

Managers no longer need to physically check in with agents to evaluate performance. Virtual call center software enables quality monitoring with analytics & reporting capabilities and real-time dashboards, making it easy for managers to oversee call activity and performance.  

5. Easy scaling of operations  

Another advantage of virtual call centers is that they can be scaled without much hassle as your operations expand. The pay-as-you-go model (also called contact center as a service) offered by hosting providers allows you to add more seats, geographies, projects and teams — without needing to overhaul your physical infrastructure or hire a lot of additional agents.    

6. Tighter internal collaboration   

Virtual call center software gives organizations the ability to communicate across multiple channels — such as email, chat or text — in addition to voice calls, in a concept known as omnichannel customer service. When your support team can collaborate across channels without losing context, it leads to better productivity across the board.  

Also, most virtual call center solutions provide messaging platforms integrated into the platform itself, where agents can collaborate and share notes on a specific issue to understand/explain an issue better to other stakeholders. 

7. Access to a broader talent pool  

When you set up a virtual call center, your pool of potential job candidates (no longer hindered by geographical limitations) expands and becomes more accessible. You are not limited to hiring talent from a specific city. Instead, you can choose the most qualified or skilled applicants, regardless of where they are in the world. 

Top features for virtual call centers  

Virtual call centers leverage modern call center technology to streamline customer interactions and enhance operational efficiency. A good mix of these features empowers businesses to provide exceptional customer service while accommodating the remote work environment.   

  1. Cloud-based infrastructure: This is a no-brainer — being the foundation of a virtual call center, cloud technology ensures seamless communication, scalability and accessibility from anywhere. Cloud-based software also removes the variable of operational/maintenance costs from the equation, making it a much more economically viable option. 

  2. Omnichannel communication: Virtual call centers support various channels like voice calls, live chat, emails and social media, enabling customers to engage through their preferred platforms. In addition, conversations and context gathered across all channels can be displayed on a unified omnichannel customer profile to your agents, helping them understand customer needs easily and deliver relevant support.  
    💡 Pro-tip: With advanced call center solutions, you can take unified customer conversations a step further! An omnichannel customer experience platform can help you seamlessly switch between channels with a click of your mouse and keep your customer conversations going across your preferred channels — without ever having to lose context. Brilliant, right?  
    Now that we know the essential features of a call center platform, let’s learn more about how you can choose the right solution that would work for your business. 

  3. Interactive voice response (IVR): Automated IVR systems route customers to the right agents or provide self-service options, expediting query resolution. Other call routing systems working in tandem with IVR, such as automated call distribution and skill-based routing also help improve the efficiency of your routing mechanisms. 

     

  4. Virtual assistants and conversational bots: AI-driven chatbots and virtual agents handle routine queries, freeing human agents for more complex tasks and improving response times. After sufficiently training the AI models, you can even divert moderately difficult issues to the chatbots and let the AI guide your customers toward resolution with a natural, conversational tone. 
     

  5. Call recording and analysis: Recording calls and transcribing them helps you enhance the quality of your customer service by analyzing and identifying areas of improvement. Call recordings are also used in training new agents on day-to-day processes and regulatory compliance. With conversation analytics, you can also assess customer sentiment and engagement, and identify ways to improve your customer experience. 

Now that we know the essential features of a call center platform, let’s learn more about how you can choose the right solution that would work for your business. 

Tips for choosing the right virtual call center platform 

Selecting the best virtual call center solution for your business might initially seem very complicated, and with the number of variables involved, it’s certainly not an easy task.  

Here are some pointers you can keep in mind, to use as a starting point for your evaluation process.     

  • Establish the objective: Be clear in defining your organization’s goals and objectives for why you need a virtual call center in the first place — whether you want it to serve as a contact center, sales call center, customer support or all of the above.  

  • Check for software and API integration scope: Your virtual call center should integrate with your existing solutions to enhance your call center operations, especially with your customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Your call center software provider should offer a good number of out-of-the-box integrations, and a developer portal to access APIs and SDKs and deliver highly customized integrations into your existing systems. 

  • Get the right mix of features: As we mentioned in the previous section, do consider a healthy mix of essential features you’d need in your call center. The “right mix” of features would essentially be dependent on your business — the size of your customer base, the demography, the strength of your support team and their individual skill sets. You need to consider the set of features that would enhance their capabilities as support agents and help them deliver positive support experiences that would make your customers happier.  

  • Ask your call center agents: Your agents might’ve come across several useful, productive call center solutions over the years, so it’s always a good idea to get suggestions directly from your frontline agents and decide on a solution that they’re comfortable and familiar with. Apart from making their jobs easier in improving customer satisfaction, it also provides them with a sense of belonging and inclusion, bringing your support teams closer together. 

  • Check for reporting and analytics capabilities: Reporting is a critical part of any virtual call center’s operations since call center performance needs to be constantly monitored and analyzed to identify potential areas for improvement. Determine your KPIs and service level agreement (SLA) policies for monitoring your call center's performance. 

How to set up a virtual call center for your business? 

Virtual call center software is easy to set up. You don’t need to worry about complicated hardware configurations or setting up physical offices. The whole process can be completed conveniently within minutes by implementing the following steps:  

Step 1: Staff and train remote agents  

Seek and hire agents with excellent communication skills, problem-solving abilities and adaptability to remote work. Some of the other important criteria you can use to evaluate potential hires are:  

  • Customer empathy 

  • Multi-tasking capability 

  • Good time management skills 

  • Compatibility with the company’s/team’s culture 

  • Stress management 

Once selected, provide comprehensive training on your company's products, services and communication tools. Offer guidance on handling various customer service scenarios, emphasizing empathy and professionalism. Foster a sense of teamwork and support among agents, despite the remote setup, to enhance overall efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Learn more: 10 customer service coaching tips to supercharge your support teams 

Step 2: Choose your communication channels (for call deflection)  

The next step to focus on is to know which channel to send your callers to, in the unforeseen circumstance of all your agents being held up with calls. Call waiting time is a critical metric in determining the quality of customer service, and high wait times will only increase customer frustration and create unnecessary friction in your processes.  

With call deflection, you can quickly divert callers on the waiting queue to their next preferred channels, thereby taking them closer to resolution instead of just putting them on hold. You can choose from a wide range of support channels such as social channels (Facebook, Instagram, X, formerly Twitter), messaging platforms (WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger) or even semi-traditional channels like email or live chat.  

Step 3: Consider employee engagement 

You need to keep your agents actively engaged in your support processes to improve rapport and to make them seen and heard at their work. Regular virtual team meetings, performance feedback sessions and recognition programs create a sense of belonging and motivation among remote agents.  

Implementing communication channels that encourage interaction and collaboration — such as internal groups or Slack channels — is also a good idea to strengthen relationships within the team. You can also provide plenty of opportunities for skill development and career growth, which will cultivate a strong team dynamic and result in a harmonious virtual call center environment.  

Step 4: Ensure compliance and security  

Customers prefer support teams to be available around the clock. It is an ideal solution but far from reality, and you need to set precise working hours. You can redirect inbound calls after work hours to voicemails or set different teams working on day and night shifts to ensure compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) signed with your customers. 

Also, your agents need to ensure that they're aligning with your brand guidelines while interacting with customers — since it is an essential part of the digital customer experience to keep your brand voice consistent across your support channels including voice.  

Step 5: Do performance monitoring for continuous improvement 

As the final step, setting up a centralized view of all operations will help you manage your remote agents and supervise their performance through a single dashboard. Reduce the waiting time with real-time queue mapping and integrate your virtual call center with a CRM. With comprehensive details of customers, you can then enable your agents to understand customer requirements better and deliver exceptional support. 

With extensive reporting, you can also identify areas of improvement in your agents’ performance, and provide them with dedicated coaching and training to help them achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. 

Conclusion  

Modern business struggle with managing their call center operations due to three major reasons — geographical limitations, challenges with scalability and the maintenance costs associated with on-premises support infrastructure. All these three factors are effectively addressed by virtual call centers, prompting brands to increasingly adopt the virtual mode for call center operations.  

Supported by the world’s first unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, Sprinklr Service is a purpose-built contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution that doubles as a virtual call center. Sprinklr Service scales customer service across 30+ digital and traditional channels — including voice — as a powerful virtual call center solution that can: 

Interested to know more?  

Frequently Asked Questions

A virtual call center is a customer service framework that uses cloud-based technology to manage and handle customer interactions remotely. It enables companies to engage with customers through various communication channels, primarily phone calls, without the need for a centralized physical location. Virtual call centers offer flexibility, scalability and access to a global pool of agents — enhancing customer support efficiency.

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