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Using call centers to take a load off of your shoulders for your small business is one option that can truly help. All of you small business owners out there know just how valuable your time is – balancing the duties of many different functions within your company. This balancing act can become literally exhausting, not to mention close to impossible. And granted, it’s totally understandable how important answering phone calls from customers can be – this is the face of your company and can include sales, taking orders, handling complaints, etc. But the things that call centers can do to integrate within your business are astounding, making it seem as though they are contacting your own people.
In the beginning stages, these outsourced providers work closely with you in order to script and document all the different types of scenarios that can come about on a phone call. They can document exactly how you wish for them to respond to your customers, so that it closely mimics how you would respond yourself. This is a great fear of many business owners – letting go of the control for fear that they won’t be able to direct the process completely. In addition to scripting, they can also transfer calls to certain individuals in certain circumstances, so that important calls can be taken care of by someone internal to the company. This offers a high degree of flexibility and customization that makes outsourcing more of an option for some.
Add to this flexibility online integration and reporting – and you have a powerful tool to take a load off of your business. call centers can integrate with your shipping and CRM systems, and the best companies offer online reporting of all of the call metrics. This helps you to have control and oversight over the process, instead of feeling like you’re on a remote desolate island without any information. It can truly be a powerful tool to help you run your business more efficiently – because then you can use this new found time on a key area of your business. And watch your business grow from there!
Using a call center for your E-commerce store can be very beneficial to your business, but it can have some drawbacks too. There are a few reasons for this being the case which we will go through. Of course, we always want to provide you with the reality of the situation so that you can run your business better than ever before! First, let’s start off with the benefits of using an e-commerce call center for your business.
Ecommerce call centers handle inbound questions for e-commerce sellers and merchants online. Whether answering questions related to product specifications and guarantees or information on orders, shipping and returns, these very specific call centers typically only focus on inbound communications rather than outbound calling. Some e-commerce call centers are experts at handling technical support as well. In particular call centers for e-commerce specialize in inbound correspondence with your customers via:
Because these niche-oriented call centers focus on the e-commerce world, they have extensive experience with product sales, shopping carts and other online marketplaces, and handling everything from the sales of the product online to the final delivery to the doorstep. Typically, these companies have technical experience with web store integrations with all of the major shopping carts, and they are well versed with warehouse and fulfillment operations. In fact, they typically also perform outsourced warehousing and fulfillment services, and can offer a powerful one-two punch for outsourced e-commerce call center and fulfillment services.
The most important benefits of using an e-commerce call center to assist your business in taking calls are as follows: to spend less money, to offload non-critical work so that you can focus on more “mission-critical” tasks, to address seasonal needs, and to increase overall efficiency.
First, it can be more cost effective to hire a call center rather than taking on calls in-house. Paying the salary and benefits of one or more customer service representatives (where the average cost in the US for customer service reps is $30-35/hour including costs of operation) can be quite costly. Alternatively, using an outsourced e-commerce call center would be closer to $6-25/hour, depending on the location of the call center (with the US and Western Europe having the most expensive centers and India having some of the most affordable).
In fact, from our latest survey, we found that e-commerce call centers are extraordinarily affordable. Usually, the cost of an ecommerce call center are as follows:
Fees are reduced for higher volumes in most cases, and ecommerce call center fees are higher when you request a dedicated rep or reps.
Second, your business benefits greatly by offloading non-critical work. Especially for small businesses, management staff is better suited to spend time on high level tasks that significantly impact the top or bottom line rather than performing easily outsourced tasks such as answering customer phone calls and fulfillment and shipping.
Third, seasonal spikes are a part of the business. If you don’t think you have enough resources to deal with an increased volume of calls during seasonal spikes, then it might be beneficial to hire a call center during those times when you need a little extra help to make it through.
Fourth, a call center for e-commerce would increase overall efficiency of your business because employees would not need to be distracted with taking customer calls and can instead focus on one aspect of the business, thereby increasing efficiency.
Now what are the downsides to using a call center for your E-commerce business? Some of these downsides are that you could lose some control over the process and may lose some valuable details, concerns, or ideas from customers. One of the most valuable components of having in-house staff answer phone calls is the insights learned from these conversations. Phone calls with customers can uncover potential problems or even areas of opportunity, which can propel your business to new heights and avert disasters.
However, this can be overcome with the right partner that schedules routine meetings, and shares data with you and your business – including recording phone calls that can be accessed at any time. Knowing the concerns of your customers is beneficial to your business so you know how you can improve your business and make your service more satisfying to customers. If you are not connected to your customers concerns, then you will not know how well your business is performing and whether or not it is fulfilling all of its proper functions. However, if the call center you are working with meets with you regularly and tries to convey the concerns of your customers to you and shares all relevant data, then connection to customers is not a risk.
So how do you audit your call center for E-commerce? What you’re going to want to do is meet regularly, audit a certain percentage of calls, and train your call center representatives routinely – not only proper scripts but also “red flags” that warrant reporting and further conversations.
If you just leave the call center alone and fail to hold them accountable, then there will be miscommunications in how you want calls handled and there will be lower quality in your overall service. Meeting regularly with your e-commerce call center team, auditing the calls that they do so that you can better understand how they’re handling situations, and training your representatives on these calls will upkeep the quality of service you receive from a call center.
The highest quality ecommerce call centers have the following cadence to meetings, offer the following avenues for auditing
When you’re using a call center for ecommerce, you want to make sure that you have access to someone who is a specialist in E-commerce Fulfillment, so you get the best service possible. So why is a Specialist in E-commerce and Fulfillment best for Ecommerce Call Centers? Well, they know e-commerce, product support, and they can help answer key questions related to shipping, fulfillment, and inventory. If they are an integrated solution with call center and fulfillment under one roof, they will have easy access to warehouse staff to quickly identify and issues and answer questions with lightning speed.
An E-commerce and Fulfillment specialist will know how to work with you and your business better than a general call center service and can take on customer service challenges with ease that others that do not have specific knowledge in the field cannot do as easily.
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