By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
By classification a telephone answering service is a call center, a centralized place from where calls are made and received. Yet many of today’s call centers are neither! They are not centralized, nor do they deal with just calls.
The label contact center more accurately reflects the current reality of many operations: handling various forms of contact, including phone calls. Even so, this doesn’t address the reality that call centers are increasingly not centralized, but dispersed, with multiple locations and even home-based operators.
While a centralized telephone answering service is easier to manage and operate, decentralization offers numerous benefits. A key reason to decentralize is to tap new labor markets. After all it’s hard to expand when qualified workers are in short supply. Opening a second location near where workers live makes a lot of sense.
A second reason is redundancy. With two operations, each one can back up the other. If both are fully self-contained and interconnected they represent an elegant disaster recovery plan.
A third benefit is time-zone shifting. Imagine one location’s midafternoon lull meshing with another location’s 5 p.m. rush. Or what about a location in another part of the world whose first shift staff answers third shift calls for the United States?
Last, consider a completely decentralized answering service with every agent working from home. This broadens the labor pool even more, provides the greatest flexibility, and can reduce or even eliminate real estate costs.
True, a decentralized answering service isn’t for everyone, but it does offer some intriguing possibilities.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.
Content Marketing: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates are $25 to $50 for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-284-1305.
Mastar.com…for in/outbound stand-alone TAS systems since 1986. Startup as low as $1,500 per station and you own it. Contact 541-606-9272 or email@example.com.
Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or email@example.com.
Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.com.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why USA Call Center Work Should Not Be Sent Overseas
By Michael LaBaw
Here are eight reasons why it may be a bad idea to outsource to an overseas call center.
1) Language Barriers: It’s common to hear complaints about communication failures with agents in overseas call centers. Why is that? It’s simple. Callers don’t want to talk to people who can’t understand them or talk to people who they can’t understand.
2) Cultural Barriers: The cultures of the United States, India, and the Philippines differ in many ways. Briefly take a look at the Indian culture. They have a problem saying “no,” often feel uncomfortable giving bad news, don’t understand American colloquialisms, and lack a comprehension of holidays and customs in the United States.
3) Privacy Issues: Most people are uncomfortable with their social security number, financial data, and medical information floating around in a foreign country. In today’s world of heightened security requirements, what’s more important, cheap labor or maintaining security? It is vital to reconsider sending sensitive customer information offshore. While privacy laws are relatively new in the United States, they are almost nonexistent in many foreign countries.
4) Security Issues: Even in foreign countries with legal protection for data theft and security issues, actual prosecutions are minimal. Simply put, there isn’t much risk in committing data theft or a security crime in many overseas countries, particularly if the victims are foreigners. Another factor is that new-hire background checks and interviewing, common in the United States, don’t always happen in foreign countries.
5) Regulatory Issues: Security breach notification is a huge consideration. An offshore service provider may have the contractual obligation to protect data for USA citizens, but cyber crime laws are often lacking.
6) Poor Customer Service: Overseas call centers seek customer service training from the United States call center industry. There’s a reason for that.
7) Accessibility: It’s difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to send team members to an offshore location. This cuts the valuable interaction needed in outsourcing engagements and the experience gained when the outsourcer and outsourcing teams communicate, share, work together, socialize, and collaborate.
8) Location Issues: Geographic dislocation hinders oversight of an overseas call center by the outsourcing company. This is complicated by time zone differences. There is also potential for political instability in some countries and public relations nightmares for moving jobs from the United States.
Consider the Real Cost: While cost savings has been the compelling reason to outsource call center services offshore, this is rapidly changing. Considering the hidden costs and risks of outsourcing overseas makes for a convincing case to leave the business in the United States.
Telephone Answering Service News
Peter DeHaan Expands Blogging Service
Earlier this year, Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader and a freelance writer, unveiled a new blogging service to provide blog content relevant to call centers, telephone answering services, and customer service organizations. Rates are $25 per post for non-exclusive posts about TAS case studies. A new category of content is now available in the area of customer service for only $50 per post. Posts are available once a month or more frequently if needed. Contact Peter at email@example.com for more information.
Bob Vornberg Promoted to Telescan GM
Robert Vornberg, a member of Telescan’s software development team since 1994, was named general manager of the Telescan division of Amtelco in addition to his duties as director of product development. Vornberg assumed the position on July 8. Vornberg has been involved in the development of Telescan products as a consulting designer and programmer since 1981. He worked on Telescan’s first paper-based messaging system and participated in the development of every subsequent Telescan product offering. Vornberg joined Telescan full-time in 1994 when he was named director of product development by Telescan founder George Meyer.
Amtelco Receives 2015 DevConnect Award
Amtelco received a 2015 Avaya DevConnect Partner Excellence Innovation Award, presented on June 15, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. Amtelco received the award for its soft agent solution, which uses patented intuitive call flow navigation to guide agents through each call. The Amtelco soft agent integrates with the Avaya Aura® suite. This enables Avaya and Amtelco customers to improve customer satisfaction by providing fast call processing using this solution. Amtelco vice president for software, research and development Kevin Beale said, “It is an honor to receive this award from such a prestigious company as Avaya.”
Quotes for the Month
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -Anne Frank
“How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.” -Benjamin Disraeli
“My wife and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.” -unknown