Call centers - What is it?

A center that handles telephone calls? Hardly. Telephone calls are just one type of transaction. Further, the word center doesn't accurately depict the many multi-site environments, nor the growing number of organizations that have telecommuting programs. Various individuals and organizations have tried to define call center but like definitions of leadership "or" customer service many miss the mark or are created to serve a specific purpose. So, let's go at this from a different angle. Characteristics of a call center generally include: Calls go to a group of people, not a specific person. In other words, agents are cross-trained to handle a variety of transactions.

Use of advanced network services (e.g., 800 and 888 services) and voice processing capabilities ("press one for this, two for that," or "please enter your account number...").

Agents have quick access to current information, via specialized database programs. This means that any agent has access to the current status of your account, products, services and other information. Call centers represent a unique management challenge. Forecasting calls, calculating staffing requirements, organizing sensible schedules, managing the environment in real-time, and, in general, getting the right people in the right places at the right times.

Call Centers in India

One the paradoxes of the call-center industry in India is that it requires English-speaking university graduates to answer questions from US customers but offers little in the way of advancement and intellectual stimulation. High turn-over rates are inevitable if the economy keeps expanding and thus offers more compelling employment options for well-educated Indians.

Moreover, the rapid expansion of the call sector may soon create a shortage of these qualified English-speaking college graduates in India, pushing wages up and reducing India's competitiveness as one of the premier destinations for company call-centers. This may not bode well for India's economy, because outsourcing has become a significant engine of Indian rapid economic growth.

In the immediate future, however, it appears unlikely that the India will lose its dominance over the call-center industry. - Yale Global Having a call center in India is the norm for several global companies today.

In order to meet the growing international demand for cost-effective, customer-oriented call centers, many organizations worldwide are outsourcing these services by setting up call centers in India.

But what makes call centers in India such an attractive option? The country has intrinsic strengths which make it a major success as an outsource destination for call center work:

    • A booming IT industry, with IT strengths recognized all over the world

    • The largest English-speaking population after the USA

    • A vast workforce of educated, English-speaking, tech-savvy personnel: A boon in a high-growth industry faced with a shortage of skilled workers

    • Cost-effective manpower: In a call center operation, manpower typically accounts for 55 to 60 percent of the total cost. In India, manpower is available at a fraction of the cost overseas. However, some people get deterred by the fact that cost savings are not seen immediately. Initial investment in infrastructure and training can be expensive and make one believe that the promise of cost reduction is false. However, there will be savings and the fact that several global giants continue to set up call centers in India is proof of this.

    • The Government of India has recognized the potential of IT-enabled services and has taken positive steps by providing numerous incentives.

    • The presence of most international technology vendors and solutions would enable creation of most advanced set-ups in this technology- intensive segment.

One company in India proposes to harness the high-quality technical support available here by hiring 300 Ph.D.'s to provide very high-end consulting through videoconferencing/telephone. Given these advantages, India could build a $17 billion industry by 2008 according to the NASSCOM McKinsey Report.

How large is the call center industry in India?

India's call center industry accounts for a quarter of all software and services exports from the country, according to industry association Nasscom, and Indian call centers employ 160,000 professionals. Daimler-Chrysler, British Telecom, Barclays Bank, HSBC, Honeywell, Aventis, and several others have come to India while the old timers of GE, British Airways, Citigroup, Amex, and others have been around for a decade.

Various types of Call Centers

The 24/7 call centers totally concentrate on using the tactical skills and effective processes during the inbound/outbound call process. Their success depends on expertise, technological solutions, quality assurance programs and commitment to customer service excellence. The different types of call centers are:

Inbound Call Center

An inbound center is one that handles calls coming in from outside, most often through toll free numbers. These calls are primarily service and support calls, and inbound sales. Inbound call centers offer

    • Skilled, professional, customer support and technical service representatives

    • Improved market coverage

    • Faster ramp-up, launch, and roll-out of new campaigns

    • Experience with programs similar to yours

    • Rapid response to market conditions

    • Account management expertise

    • Enhanced reporting capabilities

    • Market testing capabilities

The 24/7 services of Inbound Call Centre comprise of:

    • Order Processing

    • Catalog Orders

    • Consumer Response

    • Customer Service

    • Dealer Locators

    • Toll Free Response

    • Help Desk

    • Direct Mail Response

    • Direct TV Response

    • Print Media Response

    • Website Response

    • Seminar Registration

    • Answering Service

    • Inquiry Handling

    • Email Management

    • Product Technical Information

    • Interactive Voice Response

    • Sales Lead Qualification

    • Technical Support

    • Trade Show Registration

Outbound Call Center

The success of the Outbound Call Centers depends on the extensive experience, technological solutions, quality assurance programs and commitment to customer service excellence that further ensures maximum results from the direct marketing efforts.

CRM Call CenterCRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a worthwhile endeavor to ensure good returns on investment. In a CRM call center, customers communicate in multiple ways that include phone, e-mail, Web chat, personal sales representative, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and a host of others.

Telemarketing Call Center Telemarketing call centers specialize in developing and implementing professional inbound/outbound B2B and B2C telemarketing lead generation, appointment setting, telesales and market research programs.