Virtual Contact Center Pros and Cons
The shift to digital communications over the past few decades has changed the way businesses communicate. And thanks to its ability to accommodate an omnichannel approach to customer care in addition to servicing traditional inbound calls, the virtual contact center has become a key way for companies to keep up with this historic shift.
Yet other businesses are still on the fence, whether from a reluctance or inability to embrace new technologies or because they prefer the perception of control that an onsite, on-the-payroll ream of customer care agents can provide. So they patch together a customer care team from the local population and turn their IT efforts toward the goal of keeping up with ever-evolving communications technology.
After factoring in the costs of software, security and cost of expertise, the viability of this approach is quickly diminishing. The result is that more businesses choose to enlist the help of a virtual contact center to help provide a superior customer experience in the face of an increasingly chaotic consumer marketplace.
And for those companies still on the fence, here’s a handy rundown of virtual call center pros and cons that can help inform your decision.
The Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Contact Center
Virtual Contact Center Pro: Onshore Service Means a Better Connection
Because virtual contact centers are largely based in North America, they can offer access to agents who live in the same cultural zone as your customer base. This is in stark contrast to the common practice of just a couple decades ago, when so many companies chose to outsource their call center operations to offshore providers because of the dramatic cost savings involved in doing so.
But thanks to rapid advances in technology, today’s virtual call center can readily handle all the same tasks as yesterday’s offshore providers, and then some. And it does so at a similar price point, and while eliminating the need to deal with offshoring’s more negative aspects, such as the lack of common cultural ground between customers and agents, which can contribute to lower levels of overall satisfaction.
Granted, offshore centers still can be much cheaper—sometimes up to 70% less, at least on the surface. There’s a caveat, however. If a company offshores customer service, its hourly or per-minute rate might be small, but the overall cost of business will be high. For instance, companies that outsource this way typically will spend months managing its distant call center partner. The extra time and effort cost them in leadership productivity, plus incurs expenses for international flights, hotels and meals. The practice becomes a double-edged disadvantage—that adds up and takes away from the business.
Virtual Contact Center Con: Loss of Control
Business leaders who choose to keep their operations in-house rather than going with an outsourced service provider tend to base their decisions on one primary disadvantage they see as being part of the latter: not having complete control over the communications taking place on behalf of their companies.
And that’s a valid concern. Outsourced call center operations take place, by definition, outside the literal domain of your company. The best service providers will work with you to make sure you retain as much control over your customer communications as you want.
Even better, a proven virtual contact center partner will help you improve your efforts by offering the expertise to translate your specific operational needs into the most effective possible messaging used by the agents who communicate on your behalf.
Virtual Contact Center Pro: Staffing Solved
One of the most attractive features of the virtual contact center is its ability to provide businesses with access to a nationwide network of agents who can be available around-the-clock—and even accommodate overflow demand or emergency staffing—without incurring the costs of employing full-time customer specialists.
On top of this, you also get rid of the expense and hassle of seeking, hiring and training the best possible agents to meet your needs. Partnering with a long-established virtual contact center means you get instant access to the best talent in the customer care industry, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a week—and with a network expansive enough to easily scale up or down during seasonal fluctuations.
Virtual Contact Center Con: Loss of Direct Access to Customers
The loss of direct interaction with your customers is a legitimate cause for concern. When you’re not communicating meaningfully with the people who interact with your business, you risk losing the insights needed to continue making your product or service as great as it can possibly be—not to mention upgrading it in a way that meets the evolving preferences of your customers.
So, when you do choose an outsourced service provider, be sure to find one that goes the extra mile to ensure you’re included in the conversation. It’s important to work directly with your provider to make sure you always hear the latest feedback from your customers, and make it a point to involve yourself in the customer satisfaction campaigns and the customer complaint resolution process.
Virtual Contact Center Pro: Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Since virtual contact centers specialize in customer care, they’re perfectly positioned to deliver the level of service that leads to high levels of customer satisfaction. This includes, but isn’t limited to, industry standards, such as almost-perfect uptime to speed, friendliness and knowledgeability among agents (as well as the option to skip live agents when inquiries can be more easily answered via an automated process).
What’s more, the most sophisticated virtual centers make use of advanced data and analytics to track customer patterns and continuously optimize performance and emphasize the elements to which your specific customer base reacts most favorably. In the process, regular customers are more readily transformed into loyal customers who help promote your brand via rave reviews and word of mouth.
Virtual Contact Center Con: Lack of Specific Expertise
In the past, a major disadvantage of onshore call centers was the perceived lack of industry expertise involved in using customer care agents who may not be fully dedicated to your product line. After all, it doesn’t mean much to enjoy reduced costs or around-the-clock coverage if the agents can’t speak intelligently about your product or service.
This concern has been rendered largely obsolete with virtual contact centers. Companies like Working Solutions ensure that every agent is educated to be an expert in each business they represent, as well as the industry in general that the business services. The result is having service that’s just as good as a team of agents dedicated only to one business.
Related read: Case Study: A Lesson in Industry Expertise
Virtual Contact Center Pro: Regain Your Focus
Particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses, the best course to gains in profit and productivity is to focus as much as possible on their original specialty. No matter what industry they work within, companies focused on market ascendancy often find that taking on the task of trying to ensure customer satisfaction to be not just a distraction, but a barrier to future growth.
Virtual contact center services help you keep your focus by giving you instant access to a roster of skilled, specialized customer care agents who are ready to communicate the best possible message to satisfy your customers.
And it’s completely your preference as to the extent to which you’re involved in your customer care strategy—whether you have specific needs for messaging or would prefer to sit back while the service provider leverages its own expertise to grow your business, or some point in between.
Using Virtual Contact Center: The Pros Have It.
The list of pros goes on and on—including helping ensure business continuity and helping support the American economy, among other benefits. And the specific advantages that any given company will receive varies depending on industry, market penetration and immediate operational goals, to name just a few major factors.
Learn how a virtual contact center can help your business upgrade its communications game and offer the best possible experience for your customers.
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