If you’re wondering how to setup a virtual call center, we established the following 4 keys to make your remote center successful.
1) Choose The Right Office Setup
Virtual call centers run either from an agent’s at-home workspace or from a satellite company office. There are positives and negatives to both, but each are beneficial to a certain type of operation.
If employees have a home office or the ability to set one up, they are a low-cost way to open a remote call center. Working from a quiet room in their living space in which they can remain uninterrupted is an excellent option when you hire a few agents in varying locations. The lack of having to rent a physical space saves you hundreds to thousands a month depending on the size of the office you would have needed.
If you hire multiple employees in a single area, you may have to lease a space and set up a satellite office. Leasing a small office is also necessary if the agent you’re hiring don’t have access to an at-home office. Search for small strip malls or office buildings with small spaces that offer low-cost leases in order to spend the least amount possible.
2) Acquire the Call Center Essentials
Whether you hire an at-home agent or lease an office for a team, the setup of your virtual call center remains relatively the same. You need a combination of a few pieces of hardware, some software programs, and a strong internet connection. All of the items are easy to come by, and some you may already have.
Unless you opt for an on-premise software solution, the only two pieces of hardware your agents need are a desktop computer and a USB headset.
Desktop computers tend to perform better than laptops for the increased processing power required to run a seamless call center.
A USB headset allows for clearer connection and higher-quality calls, and its lack of batteries keeps the headset from dying mid-call.
A high-quality internet connection is an absolute necessity. Especially when using a cloud-based call center solution, a Wi-Fi connection will not be enough. A broadband ethernet connection is required to assure the high quality of all calls.
If your agents will be working from home, require them to a speed test on their internet to make sure it will be able to handle the high workload of a call center connection.
When setting up your satellite office, ensure the provider you select offers high-speed, broadband Internet. Don’t try to save money on your Internet package; this is one of the most important factors in running your call center.
Use a communication platform such as Skype or Slack in order to keep in touch with your remote employees. E-mail works as well, but chat programs allow for quicker conversations and less distraction due to repeatedly checking an inbox. This communication platform can help you relay deadlines or other important information your remote agents need to know on a fast-paced basis.
Anti-virus and spyware protection software keep both agents’ and your information safe from hackers. When your employees are working from remote locations you have less access to what they’re doing on the Internet, so having proper anti-virus software will ensure no one is able to find confidential information or recordings.
3) Implement Calling Software
When you select the software you’re going to use, it’s a good idea to consider the ease of access and lower costs of a cloud SaaS option. On-premise solutions are on their way out due to their costly acquisition and necessary maintenance, while their cloud-based counterparts quickly take over.
With cloud SaaS solutions, owners receive more insight as to what their remote agents are doing on company time with helpful features such as live agent monitoring and call recording. These features enable owners to better manage their agents working from home or those in a satellite office. Be sure to select calling software that contains the following features for better management and teamwork.
A cloud-based solution offers scalability and will allow you to add on additional agents with just the addition of an account. When setting up a virtual call center, the simplicity of adding on an agent will be much less of a headache than with an on-premise solution. All the agent needs is their own account, login information, and a website link to the platform in order to begin dialing.
Live Agent Monitoring
Live agent monitoring gives you the ability to listen-in on live calls ensures you can keep an eye on your center, even when there’s no hired manager. You can utilize live agent monitoring as a tool for training live training as well as to stay updated on whether your agents are staying on-task.
Spying on calls lets managers listen to live calls without the agent or the customer knowing someone is listening. This helps to ensure quality control as you can find out how an agent handles calls when they believe no one else is on the line.
Live agent monitoring offers a whisper capability, allowing you to speak directly to an agent who’s on a call without the customer on the other end of the line hearing what you’re saying. The whisper feature is beneficial for providing training on-the-spot as well as reminding an agent of certain offers they’re forgetting to mention.
Barge in provides managers with the ability to enter a live call, useful for assisting with calls when necessary. If a call is going sour quickly, managers can barge in and steer the call away from a potentially disastrous outcome.
Call recording is a requirement. Not only can call recordings be used to train employees, but they help owners and managers check back with a call in case a customer issue arises. When agents know their supervisors have access to live agent monitoring and call recordings they will be encouraged to perform better and provide consistently excellent service.
4) Manage Your Virtual Call Center
After your virtual call center is set up, you must now manage it. Depending on the type of office you chose to operate, you will likely manage them differently. You may choose to manage them directly or to select someone else to handle the management of your remote agents and their possible managers.
Managing At-Home Agents
If you’ve only hired a few at-home agents, call recordings and live agent monitoring could easily be all that’s needed to make sure each agent is on-task and operating up to your standards. These insights provide the tools you need to manage at-home agents and keep them on-task and aligned with the caliber your business holds itself to.
Managing Satellite Office Team
When you have a team operating out of a satellite office space, it is most beneficial to have an onsite manager to maintain the organization and quality your business sets. An in-person manager helps to encourage employees to remain productive and professional. Hiring this manager may be as simple as selecting one of your most trusted satellite agents to oversee operations. While you may feel secure with the presence of a manager, it’s still suggested that you utilize call recordings and live agent monitoring to assure your satellite center is operating at its fullest potential.