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CXM Guide

Virtual Call Center

Learn all there is to know about virtual call centers (VCC), including why more businesses should set them up, and how organizations can use them to improve the customer experience.

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What is a virtual call center?

A virtual call center is similar to an onsite call center, except with a virtual call center, the care agents aren't physically present at a company office. Instead, agents provide customer service offsite — resolving cases from any location, as long as it has a reliable internet connection. 

One of the biggest advantages of running a virtual call center is that it is cost effective. Without having to invest in the infrastructure associated with running a brick-and-mortar office, a business can see significant savings while providing the same level of service for customers.

A virtual call center for inbound calls 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 a virtual call center, the whole ecosystem of contact 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.

When an organization goes virtual, some team members may still work onsite while others work remotely — which means more agent productivity and cost savings in the long run.  

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 helping to reduce agent burnout and churn. 

Why should organizations use virtual call centers? 

According to Gartner, one-third of customer support representatives will work from home by 2023. That’s a big reason to consider using virtual call centers in your organization. 

There are many other benefits of setting up a virtual call center. Here are the main ones to consider.

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 of the associated overhead costs. 

3. Lower employee turnover

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

Learn more: Coaching Your Care Agents: Insights Learned From Global Brand Leaders

4. Ease of managing and monitoring your call center

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

5. Easy scaling of operations 

Another advantage of virtual contact centers is that they can be scaled without much hassle as your operations expand. The pay-as-you-go model 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.   

Learn more: How to Save Costs in Customer Care While Improving Customer Experience

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. When an organization is able to collaborate across channels, it leads to higher productivity across the board.

Learn more: What’s preventing you from realizing the dream of unified customer service?

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.

Customer Care in 2022: Five predictions for the Unified Contact Center of Tomorrow

How do you manage a virtual call center?

Consider the following when managing your virtual call center:

  • Provide a safe working environment: since this is a virtual work setup, ensure your employees follow all security policies and have private hotspots or VPNs.

  • Foster a cooperative environment: arrange regular events and programs to give your employees the opportunity to mingle. When teams work virtually, making the extra effort to foster sociability and collaboration helps employees stay connected and feel valued by the company. 

How do you evaluate virtual call center software?

A VoIP phone system is a cloud-based phone system that makes it possible to use digital call center software with a wide range of voice calling features. Your company will be better able to offer great customer experiences with a VoIP system and software integrations.

Proper software integrations and a modern phone system improve efficiency and streamline workflows. Virtual call center software includes a voice system that syncs with a CRM system to create a single, unified data source. Ensure basic features exist, such as call recording, call routing, dialing, and interactive voice response (IVR).

The best virtual call center solutions should be quick and easy to install, giving you a strong sense of reliability and security. It should provide the ability to set up local, toll-free, national, and international phone numbers — giving your company a geographical presence. Call center solutions should also offer dashboard analytics to access multiple metrics and KPIs

Discover why AI is a must have for Care Agents

How do you start a virtual call center?

A virtual call center doesn't require a physical office space, but it does need these nine components to get started. 

  1. 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. 

  2. Software and API integrations: your virtual call center should integrate with your existing solutions to enhance your call center operations. Your call center software provider should offer a large number of out-of-the-box integrations and a developer portal for access to APIs and SDKs to deliver deeper and customized integrations into your existing systems.

  3. Proper workflows: set up the appropriate workflows with your virtual call center agents and other stakeholders according to the defined objectives of your contact center.

  4. The right mix of features: do consider common features like IVR, voicemail, automatic call distributor (ACD), speech analytics, and self-service options for omnichannel support — so your customers can get the help they need faster. 

  5. Equipment: provide your contact center agents with the necessary equipment to effectively operate in a remote environment. Standard resources include a computer, a headset, and a reliable internet connection. 

  6. Contact center agents: attract and hire the best talent — even though it's a virtual call center, your live agents are at the center of driving customer experience and customer satisfaction.

  7. Onboarding: design a proper new-hire program for contact center agents that emphasizes proper training and development. 

  8. Reporting and analytics: determine your KPIs and SLAs for monitoring your call center's performance.

  9. Timely review program: have a timely program review to assess the performance of your agents. 

The Future of Customer Care is Digital

How do you set up a virtual call center solution?

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:

Calculate your agent requirement and network bandwidth

You need to estimate the number of agents and supervisors needed to handle your call flow, after factoring in peak traffic times and downtimes. Try to use a scientific method like the ERLANG calculator for the calculation and remove the guesswork from the process. 

Once you know how many agents will be active at any given time, you’d need to free up network bandwidth for them to work without disruption. Ensure you use a reliable network or cloud service provider that guarantees near-perfect uptime.

Learn more: Can You Have Your Cake and Eat it, Too? How to Balance Quality and Efficiency in Customer Care

Configure your dashboard

Create a centralized view of all operations. It 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. It helps provide comprehensive details of customers and enables you to understand them better. 

Set up call flows, IVR menus, and voicemails

Call flows determine the path of every inbound call, whether it will be routed to an IVR system or an agent who could talk to the caller. Putting an ACD system helps you manage incoming calls and keep the proper call flow. Not just that, you can use the ACD for connecting callers to voicemails or directing calls to a language expert. 

Organize calls based on a user's keypad responses employing an IVR system. With the help of an IVR, you can direct users to a menu that provides the required information or lets them connect to customer support. 

Voicemails are extremely useful when your agents are not available to take calls. A caller can leave a recorded voice message. The agent can work on it once they resume work. 

Learn more: Press none for great customer experience

Decide your business hours and voice mail

Customers prefer customer support 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. 

Create agent wait queues

While callers are on the line, they can be directed to wait queues when your available agents are busy. You can customize wait queues with music to keep the callers engaged until an agent is ready to have a conversation with them.  

Take these five steps to ensure you establish a smooth functioning virtual call center without call disruptions, poor connectivity, and sub-par service levels.

Modernize Your Contact Center in Less Than 10 Minutes

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Move conversations from IVR to lower-cost digital channels, where chatbots can handle routine issues or seamlessly hand off to agents and provide AI-driven prompts to help them deliver the best responses for each conversation.

Boost revenue

Tap into purchase intent from public data sources and route those messages to reps to close the sale — enabling customer service, sales, and marketing to come together and reach the right customers at the right moment.

Get all the above benefits with Modern Care — and extend your contact center’s capabilities even further.

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