More and more businesses, large and small are seeing the benefits of moving to Business VoIP. The operational and financial cases are undeniable, the technology is now sufficiently mature to support effective remote working and working from home.
One business seeing major benefits with the move to Business VoIP is the Call Centre, often called the Customer Response Centre. Business VoIP brings benefits over and above those normally associated with moving to a VoIP environment.
There are a host of reasons why a call centre should transition to VoIP. Here are 5 major benefits:
Using a PSTN telco supplier has fixed costs, usually based on the number of telephone lines needed. Most callers resent extended wait times for a line to become available, so there is a balance between the number of lines needed to support access at peak times and acceptable levels of service.
Moving to Internet-based VoIP can remove the need for fixed lines.
In a VoIP environment, calls are placed and received over the Internet and after paying the costs of the Internet and VoIP infrastructure are essentially free. This is particularly true of long-distance and international calls where toll charges are avoided.
The number of incoming calls is also limited only by available bandwidth and the number of free agents available to respond to the calls. As described below, automation can greatly increase the number of calls that can be simultaneously processed.
Most call centres find that their service requests generally fall into a Pareto distribution: 80% of the calls are routine calls about common problems, and the remainder need specialised attention.
Linking VoIP with Interactive Voice Response (“IVR”), and more recently text and voice-based AI chatbots means that many calls can be dealt with automatically without human intervention. This increases throughput and the speed of response for callers, thereby improving customer satisfaction.
One such is auto-attendance. An IVR-based voice menu transfers call to the appropriate person or group. We are all familiar with calls of the type “Press 1 for Sales. Two for Order handling”. In addition to more accurately routing the caller, it also gives a better impression of your business, and can provide other pre-recorded information.
Using AI-based chatbots, IVR or through a browser, can automate many common support requests.
Transferring incoming calls from human intervention to automated responses means that it becomes possible to reduce staff numbers without adversely affecting service levels.
Another benefit of VoIP is that of remote working, An agent need not be onsite to be able to interact with the VoIP system. Home workers, particularly relevant today, can appear to the caller as if they were local. There are many cases where call centres have provided national and world-wide coverage from a single location by using VoIP-based call forwarding to give the impression that the call centre is local.
The benefits of locating call centres in areas that offer lower costs, both in location and personnel have already been realised in many companies. British Airways for example, had a call centre based in India.
It’s all very well having a customer response centre, but it is vital to monitor performance. Without VoIP, this can be largely manual, with a correspondingly low level of quality of the data collected. VoIP collects accurate data timeously and automatically.
Quality is also improved by the ability to deploy training tools, often based on recordings of actual customer interactions. Managers can monitor calls in progress, and with the barge and whisper features, they can interact directly with a call agent.
Maintaining quality is vital. Often the first point of contact with your organisation is through the call centre. How a customer sees your total organisation is based on that first impression.
Management information allows you to track the performance of the call centre and where improvements are needed.
Using VoIP will allow you to see and manage:
- The number of incoming calls processed in any given time period by an individual or group, today, this week, and this month;
- The number of outgoing calls, again by individual or group, today, this week or this month;
- Missed or dropped calls; and
- Average response times and length of call.
The benefits of switching to VoIP-based call centres are undeniable. There are many more than just those listed above.