Starting or expanding a call center isn’t easy or cheap. You have to find office space, hire new recruits, and then train them to get them up to scratch.
During this time, your existing service team is going to be pushed to the edge dealing with the rush of new customers.
Outsourcing inbound call center services is a good alternative for some businesses. These third-party services are a quick and easy way to roll out or expand phone support.
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Tell me more! What exactly are outsourced inbound call center services?
Outsourced inbound call center services are third-party businesses that handle customer calls on your behalf.
These services allow you to offer inbound support without setting up a call center yourself.
They’re often flexible: you can select the specific services you need, use them for a length of time that suits you, and choose from businesses located globally.
What kinds of services do inbound call centers perform?
The best inbound call center solutions offer the whole range of services, from tech support to sales and complaints management.
Here is a look at some of the most popular services on offer.
Technology and software products use inbound call center services to ensure customers can access the help they need.
These services often focus on basic tech help—the outsourced team will deal with easy-to-solve queries while handing off more complex solutions to your in-house team.
This can cut support costs, as it can be a waste of resources to have highly trained experts answering basic customer queries.
Bookings and appointment setting
Inbound call centers often handle booking or appointment requests. These are typically simple requests to outsource to another party.
Here are two occasions when this could be useful.
- One-off festivals and events benefit from outsourcing bookings because they typically have to handle a large volume of queries for a short period. It’s not practical for these businesses to hire a team to handle these calls.
- Businesses that rely on appointments or bookings (e.g., independent hotels) but can’t justify the cost of a full-time hire can use an external booking service. These services manage bookings for a large number of small businesses simultaneously.
Crisis management call centers specialize in getting businesses through short-term issues.
They allow companies to set up temporary helplines that people can call to receive information.
Imagine a product company that has to recall a large number of products due to a manufacturing error.
This will result in a short-term influx of calls from customers requesting information about how they can return purchases.
Outsourcing these calls is the fastest and often most cost-effective way of handling them.
Customer account management
Some businesses choose to outsource account management to an inbound call center.
You may want to do this if your company is growing and you don’t have the resources to handle the influx of customers.
It’s common for companies to outsource smaller clients while keeping more valuable accounts for their internal team.
Alternatively, you can outsource specific tasks in the account management process. The outsourced team could handle initial inbound communication to gather information and set up meetings with internal managers.
Effective account management often includes outbound as well as inbound services.
Overflow from in-house call centers
Third-party inbound call center service providers are often used by businesses to cover overflow from their in-house call center.
There are several common reasons why you might need these services.
- To cover customer calls during busy seasons. A retailer might require extra help around Christmas.
- To support a growing customer base. A startup that can’t scale support as fast as it is growing.
- To offer specific services at a lower cost. A business could offer sales in its own offices while outsourcing tech support to a country with lower labor costs.
Inbound call center services have many benefits
The exact benefits you receive will depend on the type of inbound call center services you require.
Here are some of the most common benefits.
You can scale faster
Using inbound call center services lets you roll out customer support to a growing customer base at speed.
Instead of going through the time-consuming process of finding office space, setting up a call center, and hiring and training staff, you can use an existing service to handle your calls.
You’ll reduce risk
Using a call center service to scale comes with less risk. This makes it a good idea if you are unsure how consistent your growth will be.
The main reason is that if growth stalls, you won’t end up with a costly service team that you can’t afford.
Instead, it’s easy to cut ties with the service provider at the end of your contract if you no longer need them.
You’ll access specific expertise
Many providers specialize in handling certain types of inbound calls.
When you hire one of these companies, you get access to expertise that you may not already have at your company.
And you’ll get this without having to make costly hires or provide specialist training.
You may cut costs
Outsourcing call handling to an area with a lower cost of living allows you to offer inbound services to your customers for a lower price than if you provided the services yourself.
For example, it costs around $259,995 per year to operate a four person call center in the U.S. And that doesn’t consider extras like equipment, training, and software such as your inbound call center solution. On the other hand, outsourced call center agents can cost as little as $6 per hour.
This is why many call center service providers are in countries like the Philippines or India.
But you also take advantage of cost savings within a country.
For example, in the U.S., it may be cheaper for a New York-based company to hire a service provider with call-centers in the midwest than open a call center in New York.
You can offer round the clock support
Inbound call center services allow you to offer 24/7 support, without requiring your own team to be available at all times.
This is useful for businesses with a global user base and customers in different time zones.
What to look for in an inbound call center solution?
The best inbound call center solutions have several features in common. Here are five of the most essential:
- CTI for “KYC” (Know Your Customer): Computer Telephony Integration makes it simple to automatically identify customers based on information like their phone number.
- Sophisticated ACD: An ACD distributes calls to the agent or department best placed to handle. This can reduce transfers and average handle time.
- Integrated CRM: CRM integration allows you to route customer data to agents so they can provide a more informed and personal service.
- IVR with Conversational AI: These tools enable data collection for more informed routing. They also allow callers to get self-service help which reduces the number of tickets agents have to handle.
- High-quality VoIP: A good contact center solution will use multiple high-quality VoIP providers to ensure consistent uptime.
Inbound call centers services are a flexible way to offer support
Outsourced call center services are a flexible way to offer inbound support to customers. You can choose to offer the services you need in a way that meets your business needs. And you can do all this without having to set up and manage a call center yourself.
If you’d rather keep control over your customer service, then starting a virtual call center can be a good alternative to using call center services or setting up a physical location. Read more about how to set one up here.