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.
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 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 reports, workforce 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.
- 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.
- Modern web browser (latest version of Chrome recommended)
- High-Speed Internet Connection (100kbps per session/call minimum)
- Static IP address
- Ethernet connection
Learn more about the call center system requirements.
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.
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.