Working from home will be fully established in 2022. Where it used to be, we like it now. Working from home is here to stay and many companies are moving along by turning their on-site call center into a virtual call center. Others build a virtual call center from scratch.

It is a myth to believe that a virtual call center is only suitable for challenging times when we have to keep our distance. A virtual call center is a valuable way to increase the efficiency and productivity of your sales and customer service. And it’s also a good way for your agents to maintain a good work-life balance.

But what do you need to set up a digital call center? In a nutshell, you need the right people, processes and tools. Setting up a virtual call center is not difficult, because if T-Mobile can successfully let 12,000 people work from home within one night, why shouldn’t you be able to?

Let’s take a look at what a virtual call center is, why it’s good to consider going virtual, and how to get a virtual call center off the ground.

What is a virtual call center?

A virtual call center is similar to an on-site call center, except that the agents are not physically present in the office. They work from home, but can actually work anywhere they have a decent internet connection. One of the reasons digital call centers are gaining popularity is because they dramatically reduce the overhead costs of running a physical office.

Cloud technology is fantastic. It makes it possible to set up a virtual call center for your inbound and outbound telephone traffic, with which you can help customers anywhere in the world at any time. And with cloud-based call center software, your boundaries are literally blurred.

With virtual call center software , your sales and support employees keep in touch with their stakeholders. What are we talking about when we talk about virtual call center software? Virtual call center software refers to a cloud-based telephony system, also known as VoIP.

A cloud-based telephony system often works with other software integrations to bundle data for call center agents. That may sound a bit technical, but in practice it all works very smoothly.

When you set up your call center virtually, you get more options. You have the flexibility to have one team member work on location and others remotely. Or to have them all work remotely. The choice is yours!

Why is a Virtual Call Center Good for Business?

Not ready to set up a virtual call center yet? You may well consider it in the future. It doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up or a larger enterprise, according to a Gartner report, one-third of customer service reps will be working from home by 2023.

In 2017 that was only 5%!

Here are some reasons why companies include digital call centers in their business plan:

1. To work outside office hours

Many companies have customers from all over the world and it is not always practical to set up an office in every country where you have a customer. With a virtual call center you ensure that you can increase the number of hours that your call center is available.

Better customer service means more loyal customers, but we don’t have to tell you that anymore.

2. Reduce overhead costs

With a virtual workforce you reduce costs in the area of office space, materials and utilities.

3. Reducing employee turnover

Most people love to work from home. Staff turnover in call centers is high, so you need to listen carefully to what your people want. Most people already say that they want to work from home for most of their lives.

4. Monitoring your call center just got easier

Supervisors no longer have to walk around the floor to know if the agents are performing well. With the right software, they can eavesdrop on conversations and monitor everything in real time.

5. Enables virtual collaboration

Virtual call center software opens multiple communication channels such as inbound email , live chat , and text, in addition to phone calls. Omnichannel communication offers call center agents multiple ways to collaborate and communicate remotely.

6. Access to a larger talent pool

When you start a virtual call center, you are not tied to recruiting staff in a radius around your office. Useful!

In short, there are plenty of reasons to start a virtual call center. Let’s take a look at how IT decision makers should evaluate virtual call center software.

How should an IT decision maker evaluate virtual call center software?

The most modern communication technology in recent years is VoIP, a cloud-based telephone system. Why is that important?

A good cloud-based telephone system makes it possible to use digital call center software with many possibilities.

If you use a system from the cloud and integrate it with your other systems, your company can offer a much better customer experience .

Therefore, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing software for your call center:

  • Is there a possibility to integrate? The right software integrations along with a modern telephony system help streamline your workflows and improve efficiency and productivity. For example, Steam-connect call center software has an integration with Salesdock , so that your agents can send a quote very quickly.
  • Certain basic features like call recording, queuing and IVR are just a must.
  • Is the software easy to implement?
  • Is the software reliable? Is it hosted redundantly, does the provider comply with legislation and is the uptime high?
  • Can you request local, toll-free, national and international phone numbers to give your business local visibility?
  • What about the monitoring and reporting capabilities? Monitoring your contact center is a must and you want software that lets you keep track of everything.

The next step is to start your virtual call center

How do you start a virtual call center?

By now you should know that you don’t need a physical office to start a virtual call center. But there are many things to consider when starting a digital call center.
The nine points below will help you get your virtual call center off to a flying start.

1. Determine the purpose of your virtual call center

Is your call center focused on sales or customer service? Of course you can also do a combination of both.

2. Which software integrations do you need?

In addition to a VoIP telephony system, you also need a number of integrations to make your operation a bit easier. Your software provider’s account manager can help you determine what works best for you.

3. Set up the right workflows

Workflows should be built according to the purpose of your call center. In a sales organization you probably want to use the integration with Salesdock, but if you are more concerned with customer contact via social media , then the link with OBI4wan is a must.

4. Use only necessary functions

Use the voice calling features and software features that help you provide the best customer experience. Consider things like an IVR, voicemail, skilled-based routing, and self-service options so customers can quickly get the help they need.

5. Use only necessary equipment

Determine what equipment your agents will need in their home office. Usually they will need a computer, a headset, and a reliable internet connection. You’ll have to decide whether your company will provide a computer and headphones, or if they’ll have to provide them themselves.

6. Hire the best talent

Remember, if you’re setting up a virtual call center, you’re not limited to the talent that resides within driving distance of your office, if you already have an office. You have the freedom to review resumes of people who live all over the world.

7. Ensure good onboarding

Set up an onboarding plan for all your new agents. This lowers the churn and makes sure they level up quickly.

8. Metrics Matter

Your call center reports are the lifeblood of your customer experience. Develop a good dashboard and always keep an eye on your performance.

9. Provide your agents with the right feedback

Create a program to evaluate the performance of your call center agents. Make sure it happens on an ongoing basis. Then decide how you can reward them for achieving their goals.

How do you implement virtual call center software?

One of the things you’ll love about virtual call center software onboarding is that it’s super easy to set up. You don’t have to worry about configuring hardware or setting up physical workstations. It’s as simple as downloading an app.

Seriously, you can finish this in minutes and start using the software right away.

Depending on the software you choose, you generally have about eight steps to follow to get your virtual call center software up and running. You will need to do this:

  1. Get familiar with your virtual call center dashboard
  2. Create your virtual phone numbers
  3. Make your IVRs
  4. Create teams and users and configure their profiles
  5. Set up your analytics with statistics and KPIs
  6. Familiarize yourself with the call center feed (for tracking call center activity)
  7. Set up call tagging (tag calls for support, sales, tech, etc.)
  8. Activate integrations (additional software tools for a single data source)

How do you onboard virtual call center agents?

When you scroll through the pile of resumes of virtual call center agents, you will see that you have applications from people with experience and people without experience. Experienced call center agents already have many skills, but are less ‘malleable’.

There is no shortage of people who want to work from home. Most importantly, make sure they have a reliable internet connection, a quiet place to work, and that they are trainable.

It is good to develop a process to continuously onboard new agents. Include all the tools, policies and procedures your agents need to know to do their job well. Most companies have an online knowledge base or intranet that contains this kind of information.

For example, Zendesk has the following expectations of its employees:

  • You must have a reliable internet connection with at least 10 Mbps bandwidth
  • A quiet workplace where you will not be disturbed
  • A quiet workplace where no one can look at your screen

It is good to meet with your new agents every week to measure their performance. Make sure you let them ask questions and use the data from your dashboards to set measurable goals. Always base your feedback on that data.

You also see a trend in which virtual call centers schedule certain fixed hours for team building, such as a virtual coffee break.

The benefits of a virtual call center

Now that you know the ins and outs of setting up a virtual call center, let’s take a look at the benefits you can expect once you’ve set up one.

  • Lower costs for equipment, utilities, maintenance, and upgrades
  • Greater reliability, perhaps up to 99.99%
  • Scale your call center up or down quickly and easily
  • Hire staff from anywhere in the world
  • Less dependence on IT staff; software vendors take care of security
  • Increase productivity in the call center with tools such as call routing, click to dial, power dialing, and more.
  • A live feed gives you real-time insight into call center activities, so you can quickly adjust if necessary
  • Your agents have all the information they need in one cloud-based interface

Start your own virtual call center

Has this article convinced you and are you considering starting a virtual call center? Steam-connect has the expertise to help you with the right tools, training and processes so that your business is ready for long-term success.