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Call centres are in the firing line of customer support.
They’re entrusted with the uphill task of appeasing and pleasing customers.
Much of what you’ve heard about call centres and how they’re on the brink of getting phased out or being replaced with something else (such as BPO), comes from a place of being uninformed.
There’s a reason some customers still prefer calling – and keeping them on hold for several minutes isn’t going to make them look for a different way of seeking assistance.
Social media platforms, live chats, emails, and messaging apps are the new craze. But even with all these alternative communication options, call centres have managed to endure the test of time – and it has to be for a good reason.
Many customers still prefer picking up the phone and calling you for immediate help, rather than waiting for you to respond to their emails and chats. That explains why many companies still keep a customer-facing team to man their phone calls.
More to the point, it’s projected that the number of customer service representative jobs would have grown by 36% come 2026.
A customer representative is a valued position in any company. It’s the department responsible for onboarding new customers and retaining existing ones.
What Exactly is a Call Centre?
A call centre is an office or department dedicated to handling outgoing and incoming telephone calls from your customers and prospects – both new and existing ones.
It consists of a team of call representatives or advisors, better referred to as agents.
It’s traditional for companies to set up dedicated call centres – for reasons including:
- Handling incoming queries
- Offering support
- Conducting interviews
Call centres can be both reactive and proactive. What that means is that they can position themselves as the traditional call centres for responding to incoming calls, and at the same time, reach out to both new and existing customers with service offers.
Additionally, companies have the option of setting up their own call centres or outsourcing the services to a third party. Each of these options comes with its share of pros and cons,
Third-party call centres, for instance, tend to be more effective. The only limitation is that they might not be familiar with your reputation, products, and services.
What exactly do Call Centres personnel do?
Call centres are an alternative communication channel that your customers will be using to reach out to you for inquiries. Rather than traveling to your physical store or writing a lengthy email or social media message, customers can easily reach out to one of your agents with inquiries and receive the necessary assistance.
Many customers are for this mode of assistance as it provides immediate feedback.
Phone support is not outdated, just stronger than it has ever been. As reported by Microsoft, more than 44% of the customers still prefer phone assistance over any other medium. The second most preferred option is live chat, at 23%.
Phone support is more than a mode of offering customer assistance. It’s an important marketing tool, and a personalised way to interact with your customers and establish a bond.
You get to enjoy the joy of offering delightful experiences and timely solutions.
Why Customers Still Prefer Phone Support
Self-service channels are more convenient in a sense, but there are reasons some customers still prefer phone support.
Here are the reasons if you must know:
People Enjoy Talking to Other People
There’s no denying that the world of tech has significantly improved customer support. Live chats are more human-like now. Messages can be sent in an instant, and the customer representative notified immediately on the other end.
But still, nothing beats the joy of talking to a real person in real-time. This is why many companies have invested in strong over-the-phone customer support.
In fact, how you interact with your customers over the phone has the potential to either make or break your business.
A Good Chance to Make Real Connection
This is not to say that live chats and email interactions are less important. What we’re trying to imply is that your focus on them shouldn’t come at the expense of phone interactions.
As you’re soon to find out, a real connection comes when you interact with a customer one-on-one. Remember, you’re not just responding to your customers’ concerns, but giving specialised services to each one of them.
That demands that you first understand the specific needs of that particular customer. You have to understand their personalities and come up with ideal solutions to their concerns.
When customers contact you via phone, what that means is that they have problems that they’d like to see you address. Talking to them allows you to understand the true nature of the problem and come up with a solution that you can bet works.
Trouble Interacting with your Website
Expect your customers to call you when they encounter a problem interacting with anything on your website.
If customers are finding it hard to navigate through your website and get anything done, that means they’re also having trouble accessing your contact page or live chat.
The only way out is to get your contact and talk to one of your customer representatives on an outside platform or via phone call.
Most of them would opt to call you.
A few things that may prompt a customer to call you after encountering trouble with your website:
- Step by step guide on how to go through with certain actions on your website
- Report a technical issue they encountered while interacting with your website
- To inquire about an order that they’re about to make
- If they’re encountering trouble with their internet connection, PC, or if they have a firewall limit your website functionality
When Seeking for Exceptional Services
A customer may call you when they want to inquire about exceptional services. They’d prefer to talk to a real person and get immediate feedback before they can proceed with an order.
Customers feel like they have a better chance of convincing you to bend the rule a little if they can afford to talk to you directly.
Perhaps they’re calling you two days before Christmas. They want you to help them ship a few dresses over in a day so they can have them before the D-day. Assuming it takes three days to ship items, you can decide to make an exception on this one particular order if it’s big enough.
And phone calls are the easiest way for clients to find out if there’s a possibility for this.
Phone Calls are Easier to Make
Some customers prefer phone calls because they think they’re relatively easier to make compared to other forms of customer support. All they have to do is find your number.
They can then proceed to dial it and ta-da! They’re connected and ready to air out all their frustrations.
Customers can even ask for a simplified explanation in case something flies over their heads.
It’s even better because you do not need an internet connection to initiate a conversation. So long as you have your phone with you, all you need is the company’s number, and that’s it.
7 Skills You Need to have as a Call Centre Agent
Looking to start a career as a call centre agent or representative? Here are ten customer service skills you need to start mastering today.
- Patience: Some customers will get on your nerves. Instead of losing your cool and reacting negatively to some of their demands, it pays to understand that they’re contacting you from a place of frustration. Learn to respond calmly and in a more polite manner regardless of what a customer says to you.
- Timeliness: This is a critical factor when responding to your customers. Be quick to think and even faster to come up with a solution.
If their problem requires more time or attention, have a second channel that you can switch to instead of keeping the client waiting for long.
- Clear Communications: Your clients may not understand all the jargon and industry speak that you use while interacting with one another. It helps to simplify your interactions into a simpler language that’s understandable to someone outside your industry.
If you’re explaining a complex question, try to break it down and assume you’re explaining it to a 5-years old, unless the customer tells you otherwise.
- Empathy: This may appear a little dramatic to you, but it’s true – customers want you to relate their predicament and respond to their inquiries from their point of view. When a customer calls to talk about their frustrations and predicament, what they’re interested in the most is your attention and reassurance that you’ll find a solution.
Empathy means that you do understand your customers’ concerns. You do understand that they’re after a timely solution. You don’t want to frustrate them even more with marketing messages or unnecessary pleasantries.
- Positive Attitude: Being positive means that nothing a customer says is enough to get to your mood. No matter how upset a client is, it’s upon you to be the bigger person and reassure them that you’ll come up with a solution and fix everything.
- Attentive Listening: Learn to listen to your clients instead of rushing to respond. If a client wants to explain something, give them the attention they deserve and only chime in after they’re done.
Don’t be quick to jump to a conclusion or assume that you understand their situation even before they’ve had the opportunity to explain themselves. Listening also shows that you respect your clients’ opinions.
- Organisation: Don’t assume anything. When a client calls you with a problem, make sure you help them come up with a solution before closing it off.
There are times when you’ll find yourself opening several windows in your CRM database or switching between channels. Don’t let any of these confuse you.
After you respond to one customer and clear up everything, be sure to mark it up as cleared and close their corresponding window panels.
Call Centre Trends to Watch in 2020
Here are a few clever ways you can improve the efficiency and productivity of your call centre in 2020:
Cloud-based Call Centre will Help You Reduce Your Overhead Cost
Operating a call centre is so damn expensive. You have to contend with expensive call charges and then factor in agent salaries and other expenses.
However, 2020 has brought with it a few cost-saving options that you can take advantage of today. The first one is the cloud-based call centres designed to operate as advanced project management suites.
It’s a remote platform that allows you to attend to a larger audience pool and keep track of every single one of your activities.
It allows you to handle all your call centre operations with limited staff and small overhead costs. You can even hire agents from far off locations, with no geographical restrictions.
Live Engagement Tool to Guide your Customers
Customers expect three things from you when they reach out for support – a quick resolution, timely response, and a knowledgeable service agent.
Also, according to Loyalty 360, 95% of customers that contact you expect you to maintain a certain level of proactive communication with them.
It’s for this reason that modern businesses are turning to live engagement. In most cases, they’ll be looking to enhance the experiences that their customers have with them.
Here’s the thing: there are certain customer issues that you can’t figure out without real-time communication. The explanation they give may not paint a clear picture of the nature of the problem.
The only way you can handle such scenarios is through the use of live engagement tools.
Here are a few ways live engagement tools can help you enhance customer experience:
- Real-time Resolution: As the name suggests, this feature allows you to monitor the issue in real-time. You can do this through video chat or co-browsing.
Your agent can identify the issue by observing or solving it instantaneously instead of depending on a customer’s explanation.
They can remotely access the customer’s browser and fix it directly instead of giving instructions.
- Offer better Customer Experience based on where they are in the Customers Journey: Live tools allows you to guide your customers all across their customer journey – from the awareness and acquisition stage to their engagement and retention stage.
This allows you to influence your customer’s decisions and even boost their level of satisfaction.
- Improve Team Productivity: Engaging your customers directly via a live or video chat means they’ll be receiving instant support. That way, your agents can handle so many conversations within a short timeframe and sort them all out effectively.
Integrate them with AI
Call centres can easily be integrated with AI.
You want to offer optimal customer experience? So, start by guiding your customers throughout their buying journey instead of letting them figure out some things on their own.
What AI does is that it allows you to hasten the process of mining customer insights.
It allows you to predict the future behaviour of your customers with the utmost accuracy. Through predictive analytics, you can tell which agent is better suited for handling certain conversations for enhanced customer experiences.
Use Self-service Tools to Automate Some Part of Your Call Centre Support
Your agents don’t need to respond to every single one of the calls that your customers make. Not when the easy ones can be automated, as your agents focus on preliminary ones.
Here are a few ways to automate your customer support:
- By offering video tutorials that guide your customers on how to solve some of the issues they encounter on their own
- By running a FAQ page, where common questions customers ask are met with canned responses
- By signing up a virtual agent
- Through infographics
Customers are after quick solutions. They, therefore, won’t mind solving some of the issues on their own, if it means saving time.
Many customers also prefer fixing some of the problems on their own. If they’re properly guided on how to, they won’t even bother contacting you.
Connect Your Call Centre with Your Business System
You want to get your customers’ data in a central place where your customer service agents can easily access them?
So why not connect with your business system instead of letting them operate as silos?
It’s possible to connect your call centre with various business tools, including CRM, BI, and ERP systems.
Figure out how to integrate your contact centre with your business system and help your agents understand your customers in a more unified manner.
5 Must-have call Centre Technologies in Singapore
Typically, a call centre consists of sales representative making outbound business calls to prospects, and customer service executive or agent receiving enquiry calls from customers.
Some aspects of distributing and processing calls require no human intervention. You have a laundry list of call centre technologies that you may use to automate some of the things and improve your productivity.
Here are five such technologies and tools:
There’s a long list of things a CRM software could help you with. The first one is that you need one to understand the information you collect from your customers.
You need a tool that will help you organise all this information for easy retrieval when you need it.
A CRM solution allows you to document some of these issues and requests, altogether with the steps to be taken while addressing them.
Call Recording System
The interactions between your reps and customers must be recorded and stored for future reference.
A call recording system is what you’ll be using to capture all your interactions so that they can be replayed when the need to reference them arises.
Campaign Management System
This is one tool you can’t afford to miss if your business is involved with outbound calls.
You need a system that organises all your contacts, so you can know which one of your contacts is ripe for calling or what to talk to them about.
Some CMS programs will even allow you to record your customers’ responses and sort them out accordingly.
Workforce Management Software
You’re not just making or receiving calls blindly. You have goals to be met, and needs to be addressed.
With a WMS, you can plan for your calls and even estimate the right volume of the calls to make based on the projected needs of your company.
It’s a tool you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re operating with several agents and representatives.
Computer Telephony Integration
The CTI is an integration tool that allows all the tools on the list to speak to each other. You can connect your CRM to your CMS and WMS, and organise all this information in a centralised place.
For instance, when an agent dials up a call, the system will go straight into the CRM and retrieve the customer’s information to display it to the agent.
That saves the agent the trouble of looking up for all this information manually.
How to Set up a Call Centre in Singapore
The market has so many call centre software options for you to choose from. Their role is to help your agent manage your calls, regardless of the volume.
Here are a few software features commonly used by call centres from all around the world:
The telephony software is more than a necessity for call centres. It’s a help desk tool that facilitates the communication between your agent and callers.
There are a few ways to go about telephony solutions.
The first is to install the software and hire a third-party to help you manage your calls.
And the second one is to install the software and create your own team of agents and representatives to handle everything.
Automatic Call Distributor
ACD is a vital telephony system dedicated to performing a range of functions in a call centre. It can route incoming calls and assign them to the most qualified agent, depending on the options they chose in their IVR process.
It can also gather information on usage data, including call volume, daily calls, call waiting time, call duration, and so on.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
IVR is a helpful feature in call centres. It’s a telephony software designed to assist call centre agents identify, segment, and route callers to suitable agents and departments.
A good IVR will have pre-recorded messages for greetings, requesting the customer for call backs when the queue is long, holding the caller on line, and announcing your operation hours.
This is an important tool that telemarketers and call centres use to optimise the services they render to their callers. Its main role is to help you connect a caller with a specified agent or department.
It’s a tool that call centre managers use to assign calls to specific members of their teams. It can break down tasks and even help you delegate them to individual members of your team based on their area of specialisation, experience, skill sets, demographics, and so on.
Remember, you have two options of handling call centre services. One is by outsourcing it to a qualified agency, and the second one is by setting up your own on-premise call centre. Each of these two options flaunts its share of pros and cons that you might want to look into before making any major decision.
Top 10 Call Centre Service Providers in Singapore
It’s normal for businesses to outsource their call centre operations to an experienced company in Singapore. You have so many company options when it comes to this. We’ve highlighted a few that you might want to try out before reaching any decision:
Antasis Pte Ltd
Among the companies that pop up when you try to search for a call service provider in Singapore is Antasis Pte. The company has dedicated all of its operations to helping you offer outstanding experiences to customers that make an effort to contact you.
Phone: +65 6226 0050
Address: Blk 162 Bukit Merah Central, #06-3545, Singapore 150162
World Wide Call Centre
WCC is a call centre outsourcing powerhouse. They’re a consultancy agency for companies that want to hire reliable call centres in the entire APAC region, not just Singapore.
The company starts by analysing your needs before pairing you up with a suitable call centre service provider in the region.
CCE Business Hub
CCE Business Hub offers all-rounded business management services to start-ups and SMEs. Their primary goal is to help businesses reduce their cost of operation on accounting and administrative matters.
Products and Services:
Call centre, Drafting letter, Virtual Office assistance, and so on.
Phone: +65 6341 7286
Address: Blk 808 French Road, #06-151 Kitchener Complex, Singapore 200808
Connect Centre was established in 2004. It’s a multi-faceted call centre dedicated to providing an array of customer relationship management solutions to businesses in Singapore and other parts of Asia. Their services include call centre services (both inbound and outbound), non-phone communications (including SMSs, live chats, and so on).
Phone: +65 6701 1188
Address: 203 Henderson Rd, #10-13 Henderson Industrial Pk, Singapore 159546
eFusion provides a range of sales solutions to both small and well-established brands in Singapore. Their goal is to help companies increase their number of sales, which they achieve by helping them manage their sales strategies, sales channels, sales teams, as well as their customers’ databases.
Phone: +65 6517 4920
Address: 1 Lor 2 Toa Payoh, #01-00 Braddell House, Singapore 319637
Founded in 2007, I-Vic is one of the leading providers of call centre services in the whole of Singapore. The company has employed hundreds of multi-lingual call centre agents that they have trained to offer top-notch call centre services to Multi-national corporations in the whole of the Asia-pacific region.
Phone: +65 6788 6723
Address: 11 Tampines St 92, #04-20, Singapore 528872
Incall Systems is a leading BPO and customer service provider in Singapore.
Their core competency is in contact interactions, database management, and lead generation solutions.
Phone: +65 6893 3303
Address: 89C Science Park Drive, #01-09 The Rutherford, Singapore 118261
Innovax System is headquartered in Singapore but has sales offices covering all of Asia. They’re one of the most sought-after providers of integrated customer management services, system development, business consulting, and a long list of other web-based services.
Phone: +65 6438 4880
Address: 317 Outram Road, #01-01 Holiday Inn Atrium Hotel, Singapore 169075
Intercall Marketing Services
Intercall specialises in offering dynamic B2B digital marketing and customer management services to businesses in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and the whole of the Asia-pacific region.
In their line of services is telemarketing, call centre management, customer acquisition, company profiling, and so on.
Phone: +65 6206 1438
Address: 77 Science Pk Drive, #03-15 Cintech III Bldg, Singapore 118256
Tele-centre is a technical helpdesk firm offering performance-based customer contact services to businesses in Singapore and the whole of APAC region.
It’s your one-stop firm for handling multi-channel customer interactions professionally. Founded in 1999, the company has perfected the art of making your customers resonate with your brand through nothing else but spoken word.
Phone: +65 6337 7488
Address: 56 Kallang Pudding Road, #09-09 HH Kallang, Singapore 349328
Advantages of Outsourcing call Centre Services in Singapore
Outsourcing call centre services to an agency has its own perks. Here are a few of these benefits:
A chance to focus on your competencies
Outsourcing disruptive functions to a professional agency allows you to focus on the core aspect of your business as the agency handles the rest.
Setting up a fully functional call centre and staffing it with the right people is tedious and takes time. It’s also expensive, with a laundry list of things that could possibly go wrong.
And then there’s the issue of time zone difference, where it can prove to be a little problematic to reach certain customers at certain times of the day.
Agencies are pretty flexible when it comes to this. Most of them will be operating on extended shifts, which allows you to reach your customers when it’s most convenient for them.
On-premise call centres are costly to set up. You have dozens of technologies to invest in, and they are so damn expensive.
Thankfully, hiring a telemarketing agency means you won’t be buying any of these tools and equipment.
Outsourcing the services means you’ll be dedicating the operations to telemarketing professionals with years of experience.
You can be sure that these experts have been down this road before. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but running proven processes that they can guarantee will work for you.
It’s no hard sell that hiring a call centre partner will drastically blow the number of leads your business generates to the stratosphere.
You’ll have the best customer representatives and sales agents working for you. More and more customers will be contented with the services they receive, the result of which your revenue stream will start to soar.
Flexibility and Scalability
Your call volumes will never be steady. There’re incidences when they rise and fall, and it’s upon your team to adjust accordingly to make sure they’re neither idle or overwhelmed with work.
Agencies have the staff and size to handle volume spikes. They also know how to play around with different services to make sure your money isn’t going to waste. Where your customers are not making calls, they can use that time to telemarket and fetch you even more customers.
Quality Control and Monitoring
Call centre service providers are trained to handle your customers’ calls and messages professionally. These agencies understand the importance of prioritising on first-time calls and answers.
They also have performance assessment and monitoring tools that will be working to ensure your quality standards are met.
They have tools for monitoring quality and making necessary adjustments to their plans and strategies.
The reasons for outsourcing your call centre services in Singapore are pretty much self-explanatory.
And it’s not about saving money and cutting on your cost. You need a very efficient team of marketers and customer representatives to handle your customers’ calls professionally so you can hit the market faster and grow your sales.
Only a professional understands what needs to be done.
For more information on call centres or how to outsource the service to the right agency in Singapore, feel free to contact us and let’s help you figure out what’s best for your company or business.