How to Start a Virtual Call Center?

2020 shifted the perspectives of many, if not all, industries across the globe. Adapting to the new reality became a matter of survival. This is especially true for people working in contact centers.

The classical brick-and-mortar contact center – with cubicles and server walls – is being challenged by a more swift and nimble business model: the virtual call center. This is why today, we’re looking at how to start a virtual call center with maximum efficiency and ease.

We will try to cast away the doubts one might have when planning to go virtual with the call center team. We will address issues such as planning, software solutions, infrastructure, team development, and many more. Alright, let’s dive right in.

Let’s define a Virtual Call Center

In broad terms, a virtual call center is a piece of software that offers the possibility of remote work, blending cloud VoIP technology with multichannel or omnichannel solutions. An online virtual call center can synchronize the work of multiple teams around the globe and even integrate work from home employees.

In terms of technology, without getting into too many details, things are relatively simple to understand, at least at a surface level. Cloud-connected software will replace all the routing activities of a contact center and all the on-premise hardware. This means that all the voice services will now use an internet VoIP, rather than a traditional landline connection.

In addition to the voice services, a full-fledged virtual call center will also integrate multiple online contact channels and will offer a wide variety of customizable options and integrations.

This is why the present-day trend of the contact center industry is to integrate as many channels as possible and centralize everything into one single platform, such as NobelBiz`s OMNI+.

The Benefits of Going Virtual

Of course, an online virtual call center comes with a couple of obvious advantages.

The cost

First of all, one has to know that a virtual solution is leaner and much more cost-effective than its on-premise counterpart. While greatly reducing the infrastructure and location expenses, by choosing the right digital tool, one can increase the team`s productivity and the service quality at the same time.

Access the Global Market

More so, when upgrading to a virtual solution, a contact center company is no longer limited to offering local services. By hiring people from different time zones, it can now pitch its services on the global market. (Yes, business-wise, this is one of the most compelling benefits).

Carefree All-in-one Platform

Last but not least, an all-encompassing and fully digital platform will offer new possibilities for control, reporting, and service quality. This synergy between premium cloud VoIP quality and online omnichannel coverage makes for a new superior breed of contact centers.

On-Premise vs Virtual: The Unplanned Paradigm Shift

Virtual solutions have been around for some time now, and the base technology is not necessarily brand new. Starting with the 2000s, companies around the world implemented some sort of virtual component but rarely chose to go all the way with cloud solutions. Even in the last couple of years, call centers around the world still used on-premise hardware such as servers and routers to manage their operations.

But the harsh reality brought by the 2020 world crisis forced call centers around the globe to adapt and think fast on their feet. Since office work became a risk factor, all players in the industry – big and small – had to rethink their usual way of conducting business.

All of the sudden, the virtual options became the go-to solution for both established contact center companies and the newly emerging home-based call center business niche.


The Process of How to Start a Virtual Call Center

Up until now, we tried to offer a general understanding of what a virtual call center is, what are its main benefits and how this idea gained more and more traction in the last year.

Let us now focus our attention on how to actually start a virtual call center agent.


The Platform

The first and the most important asset of a virtual call center is the cloud platform that will house everything together. Choosing the right solution is crucial, as this will be your bread and butter for as long as you provide any type of contact center services, inbound or outbound.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Integrated carrier/voice capabilities. This will spare you the time to negotiate contracts and rates. Usually, the platform provider will also offer better costs for voice services, as it can leverage volumes when dealing with the telecom providers.
  • Integrate as many online communication channels as possible. The more the better, as the omnichannel approach seems to become the new industry standard.
  • The platform should offer a wide variety of activity reportsworkforce management, and time tracking – making it easy for the supervisors to monitor the day-to-day activity of the team.
  • Use key features such as IVR, voice recordings, skill-based routing, across-the-platform rules, chat history, supervisor live intervention options, CRM integrations, etc.
  • The platform should come with quality training for all levels of usage.
  • In case you are just trying to upgrade your contact center from on-premise to virtual, it would be really useful if the new cloud solution can offer a quick and carefree data migration option.
  • Of course, last but not least, the ideal software needs to have a friendly agent interface.

Naturally, it all depends on your needs and business model. But as a quick starting guide, this list should offer a good overview of what general capabilities to look for when opting for a cloud contact center solution.

Internet and Computer Requirements

Because everything will happen online, you won`t have to deal with any type of classic on-premise hardware such as servers or complicated network setups. However, there are some minimum requirements.

Hardware:

  • CPU: Intel Core i3
  • 4GB RAM available
  • 10/100 Network interface
  • Color monitor, minimum resolution 1024×768 px
  • Mouse or a trackpad (mouse recommended for efficiency)
  • USB DSP Noise-cancelling headset. We recommend Plantronics Audio 400 DSP USB or better.

Software:

  • Modern web browser (latest version of Chrome recommended)

Network:

  • High-Speed Internet Connection (100kbps per session/call minimum)
  • Static IP address
  • Ethernet connection

Learn more about the call center system requirements.

The Team

As a general rule, unless you’re working for your own business(es), we advise you to focus on team formation only after you secure a client. Usually, the onboarding process of a new client is a complex process. You first have to assess the needs of your client in order to properly assemble the right team.

If you have any experience with working in a contact center, you probably know there are two scenarios that bounce back and forth – driving the managers crazy. You either have too many agents that sit around all day yawning, being idle. Or you have too many inbound callers queueing and not sufficient qualified agents. This is why the first advice is crucial: Assess the real needs of your clients first, and then assemble the team.

When your team is complete, the most important aspect you need to worry about is how you can deliver the best service quality. Again, the agents are the interface for your client, so qualifying for best performance becomes mandatory. Generally speaking, to achieve a level of excellence, your team needs two sessions of training.

First, the agents need to understand your client his prospects, to understand the industry and the niche. Second, you need to offer software qualification training so that every team member can seamlessly navigate and operate your cloud platform.

Last but not least, having a scattered team will eliminate that sense of belonging people enjoy in a brick-and-mortar call center. Growing a team, in the real sense of the word, is the main challenge of the work from home environment.

This is why we recommend you to be creative and try to create a company culture via the internet, implementing some virtual team-building activities. We know, it is not an easy job, but trust us, it is worth it. Your productivity depends on it. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try organizing zoom meetings to celebrate your team`s success.
  • Online board games evenings with the team.
  • Weekly trivia contests.
  • Virtual book club.
  • Encourage any type of team interaction

For more insights about optimizing teamwork in a contact center, please visit our How to Manage a Call Center article.

Marketing for BPOs

Once you settle for a good digital platform, the next step is to gain some momentum by signing your first BPO clients. This is where you need to set aside a special marketing budget. First, you need good CRM software that will help you build an efficient B2B funnel.

Depending on your budget, you might also want to deploy some paid ads campaigns and integrate this method within your funnel.

Last but not least, you need to go where your clients are. This is why it is always a good idea to take part in the main events across the globe and meet face-to-face with your future leads.

The Takeaway

It should be clear by now that starting a virtual call center is by no means a very complicated task. Indeed, the learning curve might be a bit steep if you happen to be a complete outsider to the industry.

But if you have some experience within the contact center world, establishing a virtual call center can be a walk in the park, because the digital solutions caught up with the present-day demands of the industry.

Platforms such as NobelBiz`s OMNI+ offer complete solutions that cover virtually each and every aspect of running a contact center.

From offering integrated carrier solutions to omnichannel capabilities, from a highly customizable IVR (and DBR) to in-depth activity reports and statistics, OMNI+ can fully replace brick and mortar, on-premise contact centers.

Everything with much fewer maintenance costs and a fully operational work-from-home solution.

This being said, we hope that this piece of advice helped clear some of the insecurities you might have had. We wholeheartedly support you in your choice and wish you the best of luck with starting your own awesome virtual call center.

With a background in Anthropology and a passion for digital marketing and copywriting, Georgian enjoys translating complex, often technical, concepts into everyday words. He loves optimizing everything, from texts, marketing funnels, and PPC campaigns to visual creations, social media feeds, or landing pages.

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