Virtual Call Centers: Bringing Remote Interviewers Closer Through Helpful Technology

For this post, we wanted to start by taking a moment and saying thank you for your readership and your comments! Often we get caught up in the intricacies of our field, focusing our articles on the technical aspects as a result, but we’d like to assure you that we read every comment, and take the time to answer all the questions you might have!

One of the hot topics you wanted us to address is the phenomenon of virtual call centers with work-at-home interviewers. You wanted to know if it’s worth it, if it generates cost savings, if the technology is mature, and how it affects human resources and quality assurance.

There’s no denying it, virtual call centers are not only a growing trend, they’re a reality that’s here to stay! It makes perfect sense when you think about it, both from the employee and the managerial point of view.

Why Use a Virtual Call Center?

There are many reasons why a company would create and take advantage of a virtual call center, but first and foremost on every manager’s mind is the potential reduction in overhead costs offered by this approach because it requires no physical space since the interviewers are working from home.

Virtual Call Center

Let’s also keep in mind that with a virtual call center, you can hire employees as needed from ANY geographical region! With a virtual call center you can easily optimize your staff by language, accents, proximity to project, proximity to end clients, etc., as well as having extra manpower always ready on staff to manage work overflow. This type of hiring flexibility allows you to expand when needed without incurring the costs of a brick and mortar expansion.  It can also help your recruiting efforts and reduce turnover if seen as a real advantage by your employee.

Perceived Challenges Managing Remote Interviewers

There are five major concerns that all call center managers share and address: productivity, quality, motivation, technology, and deployment. These five remain constant whether we’re speaking of a virtual call center or a traditional call center.

That being said, let us explain how the Voxco Command Center, with its integrated proprietary telephony system, Pronto, helps address these issues in a virtual call center context.

Productivity is assured through automated dialing with a combination of user defined dialing parameters.  Dialing can be fully automated in all modes (Preview, Power, and Predictive), allowing for unparalleled control over interviewer work pace.

Quality assurance is done using intuitive real-time visual and audio monitoring and recording functions. What this means, is that managers, supervisors, and QA staff, are aware of everything that is going on at all times, in real-time, and can intervene and act upon this data in any way they see fit, at any point in the project.

Additionally, the solution is easy to deploy and maintain from an IT perspective. In fact, all it takes is Internet access. There’s no software for the remote interviewer to download, there are no files for the interviewer to send or receive, everything in one place, secure, and always up to date.

The last challenge, but not the least, is employee motivation: the gremlin of the virtual call center idea. Truth is, in the call center world, this human aspect is the most important, difficult to control, and hard to implement.

Properly training and keeping employees aligned with the company vision and project requirements forces managers to implement various processes and communication protocols.

Technology can do very little when it comes to managing this human aspect. It can offer an intuitive and friendly graphic user interface, it can provide us with helpful and flexible short messaging capabilities to deploy during work shifts; however, the type of communication needed to motivate employees goes beyond instant messaging, and has more to do with HR than IT. A failure to achieve on the above issue will inevitably result in high employee turnover, lack of productivity, and poor work quality, no matter the software being employed.

Command Center is currently being used to manage hundreds of call centers worldwide, combining over 20,000 workstations, 7,500 of which use our Pronto Telephony System.

Voxco Command Center: a call center management solution focused on productivity, quality monitoring, and technological flexibility.

  • Web based CATI data collection interface (no installation/easy to deploy and maintain)
  • User definable access rights and security
  • Audio and visual monitoring and recording for quality control purposes
  • Built-in messaging to interviewers
  • Integrated automated-dialing telephony layer (all interviewers connected to central CATI system)
  • VoIP telephony connectivity efficiency (standard telephony connectivity using regular phone lines also available when bandwidth may not be sufficient for VoIP)
  • All data collected is stored on a central database. Nothing resides on the workstations of the home interviewers

Again, thank you all for your readership and comments, you always manage to surprise and impress us! We hope that this article answered some of the questions you had about virtual call centers. For more information on Command Center or Pronto solutions, visit our website or contact us.

Posted by Eric Perreault

Demystifying the Governance of Survey Results

Information behaves just like water. It can be captured, stocked and, if left unused, it can evaporate without anyone really noticing…

Information that is collected through research studies on customer behaviour follows the same logic. Once a program measuring client satisfaction and loyalty is implemented, the results are observed but rarely analyzed and even less transformed into concrete action plans (less than 10% of companies conduct sophisticated analyzes based on the results of their surveys – source Marketing Science Institute). As a consequence, the results evaporate instead of circulating effectively throughout the company.

Since 2010, the biggest research suppliers are aware of this situation. “Marketing research firms had practically all reached the same level in their service offers and their clients started to doubt the utility of these studies…” explains Michel Saulnier, researcher and president of the MRIA. As a reaction, integrated information management models have started to emerge. The principle is quite simple. It consists of transforming the satisfaction or loyalty results into action plans. “These action plans, supported by the implementation of rigorous governance, will allow companies to significantly improve the experience and loyalty of their clients”, Saulnier believes.

As we have seen in a previous article (How to Make Survey Results Come Alive in the Company?), it is important to deploy a governance model. This deployment rests on a few essential steps:

  • First, the involvement and support of a senior-level manager in charge of customer loyalty. That strategic involvement from a company’s upper management is critical to allow the establishment of the steps that will lead to effective governance.
  • Second, client-oriented action committees made up of employees are integrated throughout every segment of the company. These committees act as relays, disseminating information, and as sensors focused on clients’ reactions.
  • Once this structure is established, research studies results are disseminated quickly and regularly (monthly is ideal), throughout the company via the above-mentioned structure.

Demystifying the Governance of Survey Results The client-oriented action committees can thus interact immediately based on the received information and rapidly set up action plans to improve client loyalty. “Of course, a rigorous follow-up and updates of the action plans are critical in obtaining results. There is no one right answer.” Michel Saulnier continues, “only rigorous data analysis, and its transformation into action plans, allows us to measure the results obtained after surveying the clients”. This permanent attention, along with the adjustments implemented by the action committees, allows the identification of “winning solutions”. Once an action is deemed effective in reinforcing clients’ satisfaction and loyalty, it is communicated to the entire personnel of the company and implemented. “For a governance structure to really be operational, it is important to involve the company’s front-line employees, through the recognition of their work as well as a financial bonus in exchange for their involvement in the process.”

This new concept of governance of satisfaction or loyalty survey results is a fundamental step in the strategic management of companies. Once it is set up, not only does it allow you to involve all the personnel with the improvement of the company’s quality, it also allows you to be in sync with clients’ demands.

A permanent guarantee of your ability to compete!

How to Make Survey Results Come Alive in the Company?

Mastery of information management has become an essential ingredient in the creation of corporate value. Market research firms and their customers have fully understood the strategic implications ; they are increasingly exploiting survey results, and this will eventually transform business organization and operations.

For example; “In 2010, only 8% of firms regularly using customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement programs actually analyze the data with sophisticated statistical tools…and practically none of them convert the data into action plans, hence the need for follow-up initiatives,” states Michel Saulnier, researcher and president of the Quebec chapter of  the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA). In fact these business managers risk missing out on strategic pointers with all the consequences that this might have for their markets.

Yves Masson, Senior Partner of the research firm Saine Marketing considers that “consumers today are much more critical in their shopping choices, consequently satisfaction indicators no longer enable firms to have a clear vision of the loyalty and engagement of their customers.”

Aware of this phenomenon, market research firms are looking to develop new approaches to managing survey results. The aim is to initiate implementation of continuous improvement processes at all operational levels of the firm, and to convert the results of satisfaction surveys into action plans. “Today, organizations are exposed to multichannel communications offering multiple points of contact with their customers; such as retail outlets, call centers, online purchasing sites, social media etc. They must develop a 360 degree vision of the client and incorporate the findings of these studies into their management systems,” believes Yves Masson.

Inclusion of an explicit process within the organization structure to effectively exploit the results of satisfaction surveys should be fundamental; not something left to chance or improvisation. “Awareness of the need for a certain management policy often only arises in a crisis, at a time when management realizes that it does not have the tools to deal with the situation,” Michel Saulnier points out. In this area, the National Bank is a pioneer. In 2007, the new president of the bank, Louis Vachon, introduced a new vision “One client, one bank” that was to transform the customer relationship approach to banking. “Customer expectations are constantly evolving and we must be able to adapt to their needs in real time,”says Dominik Giasson, Senior Director of Research at the National Bank. Four years ago, the National Bank implemented a measure of customer loyalty which is currently evolving. This includes an improved governance process and ensures that customer satisfaction is a priority throughout the entire organization.

To uphold promises made to customers, is governance the ultimate corporate tool?

Large organizations such as Hydro-Quebec are moving in the same direction, and are creating new management models which in the near future will be adopted by most companies. This is a trend which will be interesting to follow closely.

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