Overcoming the big customer service problems in small call centres

Many businesses and call centres have come to wrap their heads around the concept of hosted technology.

January 29, 2013

By Jed Hewson, director of 1stream

Many businesses and call centres have come to wrap their heads around the concept of hosted technology, where a provider offers the customer affordable, pay-per-use access to technology, along with ongoing support and service. Essentially, hosted Contact Centres are based on the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model and eliminate the need for companies to buy, implement and maintain call centre technology.

But although we’ve seen an increase in companies using this service, I often hear the words, “We’re probably too small for this”, from businesses with smaller call centres. Ironically, smaller enterprises are often the one who stand to benefit the most.

Whether you have a call centre with fifty seats or five, it never pays to compromise on quality – quality that smaller enterprises would struggle to finance or manage if they attempt to do it on their own. IT skills would have be sourced and retained, software would require upgrading and purchasing, and any growth to the call centre would require intensive capital investment. In short, there is literally no competitive advantage to owning your own IT.

I recently heard about a small online business that ran into severe customer service problems – largely due to their call centre tech. They had moved to a new system and spend a good deal of time trying to sort out glitches. Emails and phone calls went unanswered, and customers grew frustrated. First-call resolution (FCR) is widely regarded as the single most important facet for achieving customer satisfaction in the call centre. Because customers had to resort to placing multiple calls or sending emails, their experience quickly became unpleasant and satisfaction levels started to plummet.

Within 2 months, they racked up more than 30 complaints on hellopeter.com, along with discouraging tweets and Facebook messages (that were visible to their 25,000 fans). Although they have very few seats, the impact of the technology issues clinched their decision to move to the hosted model – which meant that they could spend less time worrying about the technology failing, and more time attending to their customers and call centre staff, mitigating the damage.

Aside from the customer relationship management benefits of the hosted model, there are also significant financial benefits. With On-premises solutions, an increase in calls usually means an increase in costs, but this can lead to serious problems for companies working with a limited budget. Hosted Contact Centres allows for a single monthly price per seat, which includes support, upgrades and maintenance. As technology develops, the need for upgrading increases. Since companies only pay the monthly price of the seat, all necessary upgrades are taken care of by the hosting company. Therefore, there are no hidden costs and no problems with rolling out new releases.

There are also operational benefits to having a hosted solution. With On-premise solutions a company has to ensure they are able to operate at its peak at all times. When demand drops, that capacity can sit idle, costing the company money in maintenance and support.

There is no company “too small” to adopt a hosted model. No one should have to lose customers because their technology lets them down – quality technology is as crucial to a small company as it is to a large enterprise.