Inbound call center services and solution for an improved customer experience

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An inbound call center agent talking to a customer

What is a call center service?

Call center services are services carried out by teleservices operators. These services take place in a call center environment and include a range of customer service interactions from answering phones to handling product recalls and processing orders.

What are the two types of call center?

There are two main types of call centers: inbound and outbound. Each type of call center caters to different practices and callers. Let’s take a look at the difference between each type of call center in terms of the services they offer.

What is an inbound call center service?

Inbound call center services include customer support call answering and handling, and typically involves:

  • Order processing
  • Dispatch services
  • Help desk services

Inbound call centers field incoming calls that tend to come from existing customers with issues or questions about a product or service.

What is inbound call handling?

Inbound call handling occurs when call center agents pick up the phone and deal with the request, complaint, or question of the customer.

What is an outbound call center?

Outbound call centers make outgoing phone calls to potential and existing customers to drive sales and retain customer satisfaction.

Outbound call center services include:

  • Telesales activities like cold calling and cross-selling
  • Telemarketing services
  • Outbound marketing
  • Market research
  • Lead generation
  • Appointment setting
A call center agent trying to close a sale

What is call center outsourcing?

Call center outsourcing occurs when a business or organization hires an external customer service company to manage its call center from a different location, either on-shore or off-shore. The external company trains and hires employees to handle communications with customers for the business.

Call center services fall into four main categories:

Call center service

Function

Inbound

The service provider takes the calls for a business or organization

Outbound

The service provider makes the calls for a business or organization
Automated (electronic) The service provider automates the process for a business or organization

Business process outsourcing (BPO)

Non-core business activities are outsourced to a BPO service provider to free up the business to increase focus on core activities

To outsource or not to outsource call center services?

Before making a decision that will affect the quality of your customer support and the success of your business, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons to make an informed decision.

Companies looking to outsource services are likely to be experiencing:

  • High internal operational costs 
  • Decreased focus on core tasks and too much time spent on mundane, time-consuming back-office activities
  • Uncontrolled and poorly managed operations due to accelerated growth in support requests that in-house staff can’t handle
  • High employee turnover and customer losses from negative interactions or lack of engagement

As mentioned earlier, external call center service providers generally handle the processes of hiring, coaching, and managing a team of agents. This allows you to provide round-the-clock dedicated customer support to your customers, leaving you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

However, outsourcing services isn’t totally without its drawbacks. In fact, it’s really not for everyone. That’s because outsourcing can mean you have decreased control over your business functions and how customer support is handled. It can also result in decreased customer satisfaction due to a lack of company knowledge or disconnects between agents and departments. 

Ultimately, you'll save a great deal of time and money if you opt to house your own inbound call center and get the right software. But if you still feel that call center outsourcing is the way to go, the next section might be of interest to you.

Pricing models for inbound call center services

Inbound call center services come with various pricing models and levels of support. Most pricing models are available for a monthly fee. Costs depend on factors, such as:

  • Call volume
  • Duration of calls
  • Whether you require just phone or multichannel support
  • Level of support (24/7 or only office hours, multilingual or English only)

Different call center service providers use different pricing models, but it’s most common to charge by the minute, hour, transaction, or agent. A smart business, however, would want full control over their operations, and thus would opt to have their own call center.

Benefits of having an inbound call center

Whether you’re operating a small business or a large-scale enterprise, your business and your customers can benefit greatly from you having your own inbound call center. Apart from providing your audience with a way to get in contact with professional business representatives, offering inbound call center services can yield a number of advantages.

The benefits of providing inbound call center services include:

  • Superior customer experiences - One of your main business goals likely revolves around delivering exceptional customer experiences. Inbound call center services are what allow you to be there for your customers when they need you. 

    Whether they have questions, concerns, or complaints, ensuring your call center reps are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to provide efficient customer service is guaranteed to improve customer experience.
  • Increased sales - Sure, inbound call center services are focused on customer support. But providing prospects with a way to speak directly to customer service agents plays a role in improving sales.

    As consumer expectations shift, having informed people on hand to converse with customers in a friendly manner is a great way to build trust and to launch or promote new products. 
  • Improved business efficiency and productivity - Dedicating an entire team of knowledgeable people to handling inbound call center services can help your sales and marketing teams to streamline business operations, freeing up their time to focus on more complicated tasks.

    Call center software can further improve productivity and call handling efficiency with performance-enhancing features like advanced call routing, virtual receptionists, and more.
  • You can win back lost customers - Losing customers along the way is just part of the process. Inbound call center activities like customer surveys and proactive outreach can help you to understand why they left in the first place, while providing a way to win them back.

Inbound call center best practices

Below are some best practices you can implement to ensure your inbound call center is delivering the best possible support experience for your customers.

  1. Focus on customer experience.
    The customer experience is central to any successful business. If a customer has a bad experience, it’s more than likely they won’t come back. Call centers should provide end-to-end customer experiences that focus on the needs of the modern buyer and personalize each calling experience to meet those needs.

  2. Offer omnichannel customer support.
    Nowadays, people have moved on from picking up the phone to communicate with businesses. Instead, modern consumers expect to be able to interact with brands across a variety of platforms.

    That’s why taking an omnichannel approach to inbound call center services is essential in today’s hyper-connected world. It means being present across phone, email, social media, and other digital channels to improve your availability and accessibility for customers.

  3. Hold regular training sessions for your call center staff.
    Customer experience trends are constantly shifting. That’s why it’s important to reevaluate your call center strategies consistently and train agents regularly to improve their communication skills, keep them updated with new products, and refine their soft skills. 

  4. Focus on resolving customer issues in a timely manner.
    When customers call to ask for support, they expect their problems to be resolved quickly and efficiently. This should be a key focus for your inbound call center. Make timely call resolution a key objective for your agents.

    There are several ways you can achieve better resolution rates, including streamlining agents’ workflows with automation technology, integrating call center technology with your CRM, and being transparent with customers about expected wait times. 

  5. Create a robust knowledge base.
    A knowledge base can improve call center operations for agents and customers alike. Providing agents with a centralized resource center they can refer to in order to more efficiently find answers to their problems is a great way to improve first call resolution rates.

    Moreover, offering customers the possibility to solve their own problems is the ultimate way to empower them. 

  6. Empower your call center agents with the best tools.
    You can’t expect your agents to make magic happen when they simply don’t have the toolkit to do so. Implementing a call center solution that enables your team to work more efficiently and productively is a must.

    There are numerous call center service software solutions out there, so be sure to choose one that provides all the tools your team needs. This includes automation features, integrations with other business apps, and omnichannel capabilities to enable your team to provide exceptional customer service.

How to choose the right inbound call center service provider

When it comes to choosing a vendor, you need to ensure you’re partnering with a high-quality inbound call center service provider. Look into these criteria:

  • Solution maturity - Consider how long the provider has been operating, as this will enable you to determine how experienced they are, to prevent compromising on quality.
  • Industry-specific effectiveness - How effective is their solution in regard to your industry? Does their support team have adequate knowledge and experience?
  • Cost - Ensure you balance the costs with the quality of their product and support. Note that opting for the cheapest solution might mean compromising on quality.
  • Technology - Make sure you're well-acquainted with their call center software and its features before making a purchase.

Common features of call center solutions

There are some key features that the best call center solutions should offer. Examples include:

  • Interactive voice response (IVR) - Allows for 24/7 support and provides personalized responses 
  • Automatic call distribution (ACD) - Routes calls to the right agent/department automatically
  • Skills-based routing - Allows you to route incoming calls to a call center agent with the right skills
  • Call recording - Allows you to record calls in real-time and monitor agent performance, call quality, and customer support service
  • Live call transfer - Allows for seamless call transfer between agents without disconnecting from the customer
  • CRM integration - Enables you to deliver personalized support and ensures an integrated customer support experience
  • Call center monitoring - Allows you to track the performance of live agents
  • Analytics and call reports - Gives you insight into both agent and call center performance

What is the difference between live receptionists and virtual receptionists?

Virtual receptionist services come under the broader category of live call answering services. However, they usually refer to automated message taking and call transferring activities. 

They can perform numerous tasks just like live receptionists, including appointment scheduling, answering questions, sending reminders, and transferring messages. The difference is that they’re always available, are more flexible, and can handle a larger number of tasks.

A customer talking to a live receptionist

What is a contact center?

In today’s digital world, customers aren’t only communicating with brands via traditional phone channels. Instead, they use a diverse range of digital channels to acquire sales assistance, technical support, and customer service. 

Call centers need to manage more than just phone lines, which is why they’ve been rebranded as “contact centers.” Contact centers manage different customer interactions across multiple channels, including phone, email, social media, text messaging (SMS), and live chat support.

Key differences:

Traditional call centers

Contact centers

Communication channels Voice-centric, agents deal with outbound or inbound customer requests Blends voice, video, text, email, social media, and more
Location Centrally located in a brick-and-mortar building, outsourced telemarketing and support can take place on-shore or off-shore A location-independent cloud-based solution, agents can work from home
Software Call-based solution Omnichannel with integrated tools
Self-service opportunities Limited, IVR-based, and subject to agent availability Lots of options that allow customers to solve issues independently across multiple channels
Increases competitive advantage No, less agile and difficult to add new channels as consumer preferences and habits change Yes, adding digital channels improves CSAT and increases revenue
Customers using different communication channels to reach out to a company

Improve customer experience with an inbound call center solution

An inbound call center solution can empower small businesses to provide exceptional customer service. With changes in call volumes,  scalable inbound customer service solutions are ideal to improve customer satisfaction and grow your business.

Boost agent productivity and efficiency no matter the circumstances with RingCentral. Take our solution for a spin and see how it can amp up your inbound calling strategy.