Monday, March 22, 2010

Benefits of Outsourcing After-Hour Calls

If you’re doing business over the telephone you can’t leave any call unattended. There’s no such thing as a stray call. It is said many sales calls come in long after office hours.

To solve this, businesses resort to hiring receptionists and virtual assistants. They are hired to take in and handle calls on long holidays. There’s no doubt about how receptionists can help your company. The question is, how much can they increase sales?

But examined closely it’s not an issue about cost either. It’s you knowing which answering service company can best handle your company’s needs. For starters, BPO companies offer their clients a well-trained team that handles calls 24/7, all throughout the year. This set up works best when your company is engaged in order taking, appointment setting, order processing, complaint handling, reservations, or handling calls and taking down messages.

In terms of specialty most answering and call processing specialists have pretty much the same level of expertise. Some offer customized services while others offer superior technology. Basically, BPOs have these things in common:

1. They have well trained representatives who handle calls professionally. Answering service providers hire customer service associates who deal with clients the way you your own team would deal with them. This personal approach to call answering guarantees that your company reputation gets across to your clients just the way you want it. This goes so seamlessly that it increases your customer’s trust.

2. Customized services. There are companies who hire members of their team according to the needs of their clients. For example, if a client is a part of the software industry, BPOS hire IT graduates to make sure their customers get credible answers to their questions.

Outsourcing hour after hour business calls, then, is an effective way to boost your company’s image. At the same time it increases performance, customer confidence and satisfaction.

The economic side of outsourcing after hour calls

Hiring a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firm to handle your calls costs cheaper than hiring and training your own team specifically for that purpose. You need to use your own office equipment for that; while an outsourced team has its own hardware and software, working in their own office.

When this is taken care of, the only thing you need to ensure is the quality of the answering service staff that handles the call. You get the upper hand in that because you are part of the hiring and selection process.

Outsourcing has given businesses far-reaching mileage their sales campaign, at a reasonably low price. Small wonder then that most back office and support operations are being outsourced today.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why the Order Taking and Processing Industry Is Growing

To be candid about the whole thing, it’s not like orders have grown to overflowing. The order taking and processing service industry continues to evolve because of ever changing customer needs. Imagine calling in to ask about your favorite lunch combo and talking to someone who knows next to nothing about it. Between your question and the answer rolls crucial time and this gap shouldn’t be left yawning without a fast solution. One mishandled call equals one lost customer--and possibly more, if you go by word of mouth.

Thus inbound call centers were born to fill in this gap. When calls (read: orders, inquiries, etc) are handled well, this translates into high conversion (read: sales and revenue). Now, the world knows how vital is the order taking and processing industry.

Who’s to take overflow calls?

And that’s just fast food we’re talking about. Big and small companies today go through peak hours at certain times of the day (in fact, most times) where their staff can’t have their hands full of calls. You’d miss out on a lot of potential sales when you don’t stick to the “No call left unanswered” policy.

For this, you need expert help of an order taking and processing specialist. An avalanche of calls is what experts call “overflow”. Unless your staff has extra body parts and appendages, she can’t attend to these calls all at once. Enter answering service specialists. They save the day by taking in and processing calls while working seamlessly alongside your own staff. In due time, it all comes down to satisfied customers, brisk sales and one big happy family.

Telemarketing wonder

Which is why many of the world’s leading companies outsource their customer service department to call centers. Today the order taking and processing industry is viewed as a telemarketing and service provider wonder that returns investments in double figures.

This is how it works. The associates are trained in handling all sorts of customers to satisfy their needs and keep them loyal to your company. They take in and process calls minus the wasted minutes or seconds. This way your work goes without glitches and you can reach your daily goal’s full potential.

Why is that? Your best kept secret (read: your most efficient staff) can work on other core functions so everything gets streamlined. If you put your own team in an area where they’re good at you can keep up with the rat race.

Sale Order Processing vs Order Taking

Inbound call centers offer customer service features of all sorts, but two of the most sought after are sale order processing and order taking.

Sale order processing works best for online businesses. An sale order processing specialist offers your company remote sales staff that uses a secure Internet-based sales and order solution. This makes order taking faster, simpler and more precise. Since the software and skills required are very user-friendly, you’d have no problem training your own team in it.

But in a strict sense order taking and order processing covers pre-selected associates who are trained to take in inbound call for purchases. They basically work with customer information in matching names, address and credit card numbers with a database to process the purchase. They offer various solutions to give callers a smooth and worry-free online purchasing experience.

In order taking and processing, people are looking for the right blend of technology and talent. Above all, they choose an inbound call center that offers superior customer service.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 7 Qualities of an Answering Service Specialist

by: Mel Turao

Not all outsourced answering services are created equal. Some are better than others. And these are those that offer not only superior customer service experience but also smooth and seamless order taking features.

The buzzword these days isn’t about reducing cost and customized service. These are clich├ęs. What business people are looking for is the right mixture of technology and talent. Before you sign up with an inbound call center to handle your answering service needs, look for these fool-proof qualities:

1. Up to par English. We’ve heard of language and cultural issues that result in customer frustration. This shouldn’t have any place in answering and order taking service. If it’s to be customer-centered, no confusion should arise from things as basic as vocabulary and sound. When there is a disconnection between associate and customer no order or processing can ever go forward. Taking in calls and processing them is pretty much a communications issue. See to it nothing gets in the way of clarity.

2. Excellent overflow call management. You can’t afford to put your service on the line by bumping off calls and putting your customers on hold for minutes. There’s such a thing as an average hold time, and it varies according to which inbound call center standards you follow, but no call should be left out. All calls, however bad, are potential sales.

3. Keep it out in the open. By all means private policies should be kept private. But for your business to optimize its outsourced answering service, you and the inbound call center should maintain a high level of transparency. That also covers your customer’s personal data. So, sit down and thresh out the privacy policies and choose an inbound call center that offers the most see-through terms.

4. Back up plan. It’s not a rosy picture all time, so you need to protect your operation from any unforeseen event such as fires, power outage, hacking and so on. When one of these happens it results in disruption and it’s going to cost your investment. Choose an order taking specialist that is secure from all forms of risks.

5. Solid and stable. Work with an outsourcing partner that has a proven stability, management and cutting edge equipment. You can’t seem to choose from too many players on the market today, but getting referrals from experts helps a great deal. Your outsourced answering service should have the tech support features that can route and direct calls to breathing and speaking associates.

With superior equipment comes superior training and customer service features. You have a right to know about how quality control is carried out because how the inbound call center conducts business speaks volumes about its expertise. You need to look into financial issues as well.

6. An outsourced partner that delivers on its promises.
The key word is trust. When your relationship is built on trust it reflects in your customer service. And this can’t be more obvious than in appointment setting, order taking and order processing. In short, listen to customer’s comments.

7. An inbound call center that understands your business. A successful answering service is a result of synergy. This can only happen when your company and the inbound call center work on clear terms that are mutually observed. More than the exchange of knowledge, technology and skills, there seems to be no limit to the exchange of information. So you need to make sure your outsourced partner sees where you’re coming from.

It’s pretty easy to find these qualities in most inbound call centers that specialize in answering and order processing. But the supreme test is how they put these into action to widen your customer base, and ultimately, to give you a slice of the pie.