Is a call center an option for your business?

Is a call center an option for your business?

As many businesses grow, the hassle of managing employees grows along with it. Two of the hardest groups to manage for me were outbound sales and customer service.  In the technology industry in the 1990’s (which is where my management career started and ended) had few processes developed for inbound and outbound calls. In a small business, your “super admins” end up dealing with most of these things and often get burned out.

Many, many call centers existing in the United States that are affordable, well-managed and easy to integrate into your business. It’s not all the stereotypical Indian or Malaysian call center that we’ve all come to dread. If you’re overwhelmed because you’ve got more business than you can handle, you might want to consider outsourcing call centers as an option. But just what do they do?

First of all, you’ve got to differentiate between inbound and outbound call center services. Inbound services typically include things like

  • customer care
  • order management
  • help desk staffing
  • sales
  • and even crisis management if there is a natural disaster, a public relations problem or other things that might increase significantly the number of calls coming INTO your company.

Outbound usually involves tasks that engage clients and potential customers on a proactive basis. These might be:

  • lead generation
  • surveys
  • outbound sales and telemarketing
  • market research
  • other prospecting tasks

There can be downsides – integrating any outsourced function into an organization has a period of transition that can be painful. Also, customers used to speaking with internal staff may have issues with the new resources in the beginning. It’s best to find a call center that has a long history of doing this, and established processes and references. Don’t just go for the cheapest bid.

Many call center organizations are looking for companies that they can engage with, and grow their services right along. If you’re experiencing high growth right now, rather than experiencing the overhead of adding employees,  it might be something to consider.  The American Teleservices Association (ATA) is an excellent resource for learning more about call centers and finding a good one.

What do you think? What are your stories, good and bad, for using a call center?