What is a Call Center?

A call center is an office where a company's inbound calls are received or outbound calls are made. Call centers are increasingly popular in today's society, where many companies have centralized customer service and support functions. Call centers employ many staff in customer service, sales, and support functions. Call centers are often large offices staffed with representatives who either make or receive phone calls. Depending on the size of the call center, a single office could have anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of telephone staff. Depending on the needs of the company, call centers can make either incoming or outgoing calls Some call centers focus on answering inbound calls, such as a bank that gives out a toll-free number for customers needing assistance. In this example, call center representatives can give account balances and take loan applications over the phone. Other call centers focus on outbound calls, such as a survey company, where representatives make outbound calls to ask people to answer survey questions over the phone. Call centers can provide a number of advantages to companies. By centralizing telephone-based service and support in one location, companies can easily adjust staffing to match call volume. Call centers can be located almost anywhere, allowing companies to take advantage of time zones and cheaper labor rates in different states and countries. They also centralize the technology needs of companies, allowing major telecommunications setups to be installed in a small handful of call centers instead of a number of smaller offices, making upgrades and training easier.

A call centre or call center[1] is a centralised office used for the purpose of receiving and transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. and one or more supervisor stations. A call centre is often operated through an extensive open workspace for call centre agents. a telephone set/headset connected to a telecom switch. in which customer calls are randomly monitored by quality assurance staff to ensure that phone representatives meet customer needs. helping call center staff assist customers more efficiently and effectively Call centre A very large collections call centre in Lakeland. and debt collection are also made. live chat. Outgoing calls for telemarketing. A call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers. with work stations that include a computer for each agent. clientele. It can be independently operated or networked with .Many call centers use a number of different technologies to help improve performance and customer experience. Florida. collective handling of letters. Inbound call centers often use automatic call distribution. faxes. in which incoming calls are assigned to representatives in the order in which they are received. product services. Call center technology evolves constantly. Other call centers utilize call monitoring. and e-mails at one location is known as a contact centre. In addition to a call centre.

microcomputers and LANs. It is generally a part of company’s customer relationship management (CRM). Through contact centres. and even instant messaging.additional centres. visiting websites. chatting online. Examples include utility companies. A contact centre. emailing. Most major businesses use call centres to interact with their customers. and customer support for computer hardware and software. mail order catalogue retailers. and sales support. valuable information about company are routed to appropriate people. contacts to be tracked and data to be gathered. Increasingly. Today. also known as customer interaction centre is a central point of any organization from which all customer contacts are managed. retail financial support. Examples of this include help desks. faxing. Some businesses even service internal functions through call centres. customers contact companies by calling. the voice and data pathways into the centre are linked through a set of new technologies called computer telephony integration (CTI). Technology . including mainframes. often linked to a corporate computer network.

agent training by automatic mining of best practices from past interactions. as well as for outbound calls. The call centre operator would be responsible for the maintenance of the equipment and necessary software upgrades as released by the vendor. Premise-based Call Centre Technology Historically. [3] both for inbound and outbound campaigns. The concept of the Universal Queue standardizes the processing of communications across multiple technologies such as fax. text mining and natural language processing to allow better customer handling. the virtual call centre has emerged.An Indian call centre Call centre technology is subject to improvements and innovations. Virtual Call Centre Technology[4] With the advent of the Software as a service technology delivery model.[2] Automatic lead selection or lead steering is also intended to improve efficiencies. support automation and many other technologies to improve agent productivity and customer satisfaction. whilst minimizing wait times and long lists of irrelevant options for people calling in. Some of these technologies include speech recognition software to allow computers to handle first level of customer support. operate or host the equipment that the call centre runs on. the call centres operator does not own. and email whilst the concept of a Virtual queue provides callers with an alternative to waiting on hold when no agents are available to handle inbound call demand. call centres have been built on PBX equipment that is owned and hosted by the call centre operator. socioeconomic factors and past performance and percentage likelihood of closing a sale per lead. they subscribe to a service for a monthly or annual fee with a service provider that hosts the call centre telephony equipment in their own data centre. The PBX might provide functions such as Automatic Call Distribution. phone. Instead. and skills-based routing. whereby inbound calls are intended to quickly land with the appropriate agent to handle the task. In a virtual call centre model. Interactive Voice Response. where lead selection allows management to designate what type of leads go to which agent based on factors including skill. Such a vendor may host many call centres .

Patents . rather than at the call centre operator's premise. The APIs typically provide programmatic access to two key groups of features in the call centre platform: Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) APIs provide developers with access to basic telephony controls and sophisticated call handling on the call centre platform from a separate application. Calls to and from prospects or contacts originate from or terminate at the vendor's data centre. or hosted.on their equipment. such as Salesforce.com and leads management and other applications. instead of in a traditional. centralized. Virtual Call Centre Technology allows people to work from home.[5] Cloud Computing for Call Centres Cloud computing for call centres extends cloud computing to Software as a service. The vendor's telephony equipment then connects the calls to the call centre operator's agents. on-demand call centres by providing application programming interfaces (APIs) on the call centre cloud computing platform that allow call centre functionality to be integrated with cloudbased Customer relationship management. to work. Configuration APIs provide programmatic control of administrative functions of the call centre platform which are typically accessed by a human administrator through a Graphical User Interface (GUI). which increasingly allows people with physical or other disabilities that prevent them from leaving the house. call centre location. Agents connect to the vendor's equipment through traditional PSTN telephone lines. or over Voice over IP.

the caller is forwarded to the third tier of support. or ask for help. automated call distribution. These calls are substantially different from outbound calls. where agents place calls to potential customers mostly with intentions of selling or service to the individual. If a caller requires more assistance. Katz. One of the early inventors in this field. (See telemarketing). campaign and agent levels Dynamics Types of calls are often divided into outbound and inbound. there may be three or more tiers of support staff. Ronald A. If a caller requires more assistance. and technology. computer telephone integration and speech recognition. personally holds over 40 patents covering inventions related to charge-free numbers. In some cases. automated attendant. There is a large number of patents covering various aspects of call centre operation. who direct inquiries to the appropriate department and provide general directory information. typically the third tier of support is formed .Call centre floor during shift. automation. Customizable reports to measure call results at call centre. where most issues can be resolved. The first tier in such a model consists of operators.[7] Call centre staff are often organised into a multi-tier support system for a more efficient handling of calls. It is possible to combine inbound and outbound campaigns. Inbound calls are calls that are made by the consumer to obtain information. report a malfunction. the call is forwarded to the second tier. voice response unit.[6] A report on the performance of an outbound call centre agent.

[8] Others point to the low rates of pay and restrictive working practices of some employers. it makes more efficient use of agent time as each type of agent (inbound or outbound) can handle the overflow of the other.by product engineers/developers or highly skilled technical support staff of the product.[15] to enable the company to better plan the workload and time of its employees. call centres have been the subject of complaints by callers who find the staff often do not have enough skill or authority to resolve problems.[14] This can be argued to be beneficial. • • . Outbound call centre .[12] while the dehumanised workers very often exhibit an attitude of apathy to even the most abusive customer. e-mail and internet chat.Exclusively or predominantly handles inbound calls (calls initiated by the customer). Call centres have their critics.Combining automatic call distribution for incoming calls with predictive dialling for outbound calls. some of which argue that the work atmosphere in such an environment is de-humanising.[11] Furthermore. the close monitoring of staff activities is easy and widespread.[13] Owing to the highly technological nature of the operations in such offices. including but not necessarily limited to telephony.One in which call centre agents make outbound calls to customers or sales leads.[16] Varieties Some variations [17] of call centre models are listed below: • Contact centre – Supports interaction with customers over a variety of media.[9][10] There has been much controversy over such things as restricting the amount of time that an employee can spend in the toilet. Blended call centre . • Inbound call centre . Some people have argued that such close monitoring breaches human rights to privacy.

poor maintenance and cleaning. cramped working conditions. with language and accent problems Touch tone menu systems and automated queuing systems Excessive waiting times to be connected to an operator Complaints that departments of companies do not engage in communication with one another • • • • • Deceit over location of call centre (such as allocating overseas workers false English names) Requiring the caller to repeat the same information multiple times • Common criticisms from staff include:[20] • • • Close scrutiny by management (e.Criticism and performance Criticisms of call centres generally follow a number of common themes. lack of privacy and noisy) • • • • • Impaired vision and hearing problems Rude and abusive customers .g. From callers. frequent random call monitoring) Low compensation (pay and bonuses) Restrictive working practices (some operators are required to follow a prewritten script) High stress: a common problem associated with front-end jobs where employees deal directly with customers Repetitive job task Poor working conditions (e. poor facilities. from both callers and call centre staff. common criticisms include:[18] • • • Operators working from a script Non-expert operators (call screening) Incompetent or untrained operators incapable of processing customers' requests effectively[19] Overseas location.g. management interference.

[27][28] The various challenges encountered by call operators are discussed by several authors.[23] whereas others are using various scientific technologies to do the jobs.clients can benefit from considerable investment into communications technology.[34] including the Communications Workers of America[35] and the United .The net-net of these concerns is that call centres as a business process exhibit levels of variability. [22] Anton and Phelps have provided a detailed HOWTO to conduct the performance evaluation of the business. • Unionisation Unions in North America have made some effort to gain members from this sector. Bureau contact centres provide an opportunity for: • Pilot schemes .[24][25][26] However more popular alternatives are using personality and skill based approaches.perform test of concept for new models for communications. leveraging benefits without having to invest in large cap-ex projects. The overheads of the contact centre are shared by many clients thereby supporting a very cost effecive model especially for low volumes of calls. The experience a customer gets and the results a company achieves on a given call are almost totally dependent on the quality of the agent answering that call. sales or customer services before investing in staff and infrastructure • Flexible solutions for SME's .[29][30][31][32][33] Outsourced Bureau Contact Centres Outsourced bureau contact centres are a model of contact centre that provide services on a "pay per use" model.[21] Call centres are beginning to address this by using agentassisted voice solutions to standardise the process all agents use.small or medium-size enterprises can benefit from a flexible service that can evolve with the businss Best of breed systems/technology .

However. [36] In Europe. Uni Global Union of Switzerland is involved in assisting unionisation in this realm. . but there are some guidelines and standing operating procedures available on the internet. A call centre can be seen as a queuing network.[40][41] The models can be applied to answer queueing questions for call centres. Call centre operations have been supported by mathematical models beyond queueing.[38] Most of the standards under this division have not been reviewed thoroughly. which considers a wide range of optimisation problems. their activities form part of the Australian labour movement. available for the industry to follow up. there are no universally bracketable international standards.040.Steelworkers. The most widespread queueing model used is the Erlang C Formula.[39] Mathematical theory Queuing theory is a branch of mathematics in which models of queuing systems have been developed.[37] Standardisation Currently. the Call Centre Workers Union represents unionised workers. other than ISO 9000 series.35. In Australia. with operations research. some of the relevant standards are loosely published by ISO with the division of ICS 33.