Best Call Center Services Review 2017
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The shift from internal call management to a call center is a fundamental alteration in the way a company operates. As with all changes of this magnitude, there are pros and cons to both models. However, many people charge into decisions about call centers blind. Without understanding the economic and operational realities of call centers and how they could fit within your current business model, you could be doing your organization a huge disservice by not taking advantage of some of the call center services available on the current market. This guide was written to help you understand everything you need to know about call centers and how they could fit within your organization.
Top Call Center Service Providers 2017
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Reviewing and Understanding What Call Centers Offer
One of the most fundamental misunderstandings when it comes to call centers involves the complete picture of what these companies offer their customers.
First of all, there are two primary categories of calls handled by call centers: inbound and outbound calls. Let’s take a look at the types of services provided by inbound and outbound call centers. Other top call center companies include: LiveOps, AppleTree Answers, USA800, Solid Cactus, and Etch Global
- Call Center Outsourcing Review
- Inbound Call Center Service Review
Compare Inbound Call Center Services
Inbound calling refers to telephone calls that are coming into your company. Inbound call center services include but are not limited to:
- Answering customer service inquiries
- Taking and processing telephone orders
- Providing technical support
- Taking messages and transferring calls to the appropriate party
- Receptionist services
- Appointment booking
Outbound Call Center Services
Outbound calls are those placed by the staff instead of coming into your company. Typically speaking, outbound call center services fall into sales or sales related categories including:
- Cold calling
- Follow up sales calls
- Lead qualification
- Appointment setting
When is it Time to Outsource Calls?
This is a very common question in the industry, but there is no one easy answer. Instead, there are a variety of factors that you need to look for within your organization to know whether or not it might be time to hire a call center to manage part of your operations. Consider these factors when weighing the decision.
Hours of Operation: Trying to keep a business open 24/7 can prove extremely cost prohibitive when you’re maintaining all operations in-house. By utilizing a call center, you can suddenly shift to a model where being open 24/7 to provide uninterrupted customer support becomes feasible from a cost perspective.
Expansion of Call Center Operations: If your company is promoting new products, making special offers, or trying to grow into other areas of your industry, you may find that your internal capacity to handle calls is quickly outstripped. A call center may provide you with the ability to handle the higher volumes of calls that may come along with such growth.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: For many companies, this becomes the best reason to hire a call center. When calls that need to be made out of, or received into, a company hit a critical mass, the cost of subcontracting a call center becomes much less than adding the internal infrastructure needed to handle those high volumes. The cost of equipment, staff, support and space within your own organization typically far exceeds what you would pay to receive similar functionality from a third-party call center. The most important step in deciding whether or not a call center is right for your company starts with deciding how much it would cost you to internally handle the volume of calls that you foresee and comparing that to quotes from reputable call centers.
Evaluating Call Centers: Once you’ve decided that your company could benefit from a call center, you enter into the minefield of trying to decide which of the many companies you should offer your business to. None of these factors provide a hard and fast means for judging call centers, but should be used together to create a complete picture of how your options stack up against each other.
Call Volume Requirements: A call center may have a minimum threshold in terms of volume that you must meet in order to become a client. This is to ensure that the profit they’re earning justifies the expenses from their end. Make sure that this is a reasonable threshold that you have no risk of falling below before you sign a contract. However, there are some companies that don’t have minimums which allow smaller business to gain the benefits available through contracting a call center.
Call Center Payment Plans: Different call centers organize their billing under different models. The key thing you want to look for is what happens if you use less time than your agreed upon purchase. Some will let you change plans quickly in order to adjust to something more suitable for your company, while some companies will even let you roll minutes ahead into a future month, saving you money over the long run. Make sure you understand how billing works and how that fits within your needs before you sign a contract.
Length of time in Business: This shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision, but it is worth looking at. Companies that have been around longer, have a quality client list, and who can provide references tend to be reliable, as it is tough to establish that kind of a track record if you’re providing a substandard service.
On Site Visit to Call Centers: This might not be a possibility if you’re looking at an offshore company, but if you’re planning on working with a local call center, don’t be afraid to request an in person visit to see how they handle their operations. Also, if you’re not able to visit in person, any high quality call center should be willing to patch you in on a couple of calls so you can evaluate the quality of their agents and processes, and get a feel for how they might fit within your preferred way of doing business.
Contact Center Reporting: Finally, you may also want to look into the various reporting options offered by the company. Getting highly detailed reports is the best way to evaluate the performance of your call center on an ongoing basis, giving you the information that you need to have in order to increase, decrease or change your current call center strategy. Look for companies that provide reports on demand that include things like:
- Duration until calls answered
- Upselling conversion rates
- Inbound sales conversion rates
- Time per call
- Revenue generated per hour
- Hold times
- Revenue by time of day
These just scratch the surface, but it should suffice to say that the more detailed and frequent reports you can get, the more power you will have to tinker with how the call center integrates with your own business.
Review and Compare Call Center Services Pricing
The price point of call centers can vary wildly depending on the technology in place at the company, special service offerings like bilingual agents, and of course whether the company is located domestically or abroad.
Shared agents are offered when a given employee of the call center is trained to work for a variety of different clients. They take calls in the order they come in, and the time they spend for each client is tracked via an automated system. Typically, costs for shared agents come in between $.50 and $1.00 per minute that they work.
These are more commonly found in the call center contracts of larger companies, who have a high enough volume of inbound or outbound calls to justify several full-time employees. The upside to this is that because of their dedication to one client, dedicated agents tend to be able to learn more and handle more complex tasks when representing your company. Costs for dedicated agents typically can start as low as $10 for each agent-hour worked, and can easily get to $25 and higher for the highest quality call centers that handle very complex roles in an organization.
Call Center Fees
Don’t forget that there may be additional fees such as setup fees, commissions for sales agents, programming and other add-ons that may be piled on top of initial pricing. Be sure to ask any prospective call center for full disclosure on all possible fees so you don’t run into any surprises down the road.
Call Center Providers
There are many different companies from all around the world that offer call center services, and who you pick is going to depend chiefly on the match between what they can offer, their rates, your business model, and your budget. The companies mentioned here are a good starting point for your search if you’re ready to start having serious conversations with call centers about how they can serve your company.
Stericycle: A very well reviewed company with 24/7 Service and bilingual agents
MAP: A call center equipped to process orders 24/7 with a team of bilingual agents
All West Call Centers: A top-tier customer service oriented call center. No outbound calling services offered
TeleDirect: Very wide range of inbound and outbound service options, agents with a variety of linguistic backgrounds, and a monthly minimum of only 29 minutes.
Xact Telesolutions: Call center that focuses on employing the latest technology and training methods to provide you with the most effective call center agents possible.
There are dozens of other great companies available that you can choose from, but these should give you a brief snapshot of the kinds of different services that are available for you to choose from.
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