Jul 27 2012
Today the call center and answering services industry is thronged by players big and small, not to mention the price wars created due to the rise in outsourcing the call center operations to foreign countries where labor is cheap. Potential customers have a tough time choosing the right vendor for their needs and answering service providers have an even tougher time differentiating their services in an increasingly commoditized market place. In this post we will look at some of the ways in which an answering service provider can differentiate itself from the other players in the market.
- Offer Bundled Services: One of the best ways to differentiate your answering service operations in your clients’ eyes is to make their “research and choosing” work easier by offering bundled services. For example, offer to handle client e-mail, fax and live chat apart from answering phones and relaying messages. If your clients have operations spread across multiple geographies, offer to handle all geographies. Even better, partner with a third party translation service and bundle a multilingual service into a global business package.
- Offer Business Analytics: One great way in which you can give value added service for your client is by providing analytical services along with your answering services. You need to understand that this is different from the standard SLA reports that most call centers would provide their clients as part of their contractual obligations which would contain information about metrics such as first call resolution and agent utilization. You need to think beyond the traditional analysis which revolve around call center productivity and customer satisfaction and instead think about being a strategic partner in your client’s business. If you can analyze the call data to provide meaningful insights to your clients’ business, that would be a real differentiator. For example, if your call data analysis shows that more than 60% of customer queries are about how to fix a product for its first use, then you may be able to suggest to your client that it would be a great idea to insert a ‘How to’ manual along with the product. Do not take a short sighted view of how this would reduce call volumes to your call center. Remember that when your client grows, you grow as well!
- Explain Your Pricing Structure: One of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to winning new clients in the call center industry is the global competition and resulting price structures which firms in the US may find difficult to match. It is therefore important to demonstrate the concept of total cost of ownership to your clients and explain in detail about how your services would be beneficial in the long run. Attempt to quantify the indirect benefits such as the ability to retain customers due to superior service levels. After all, it is common knowledge that it makes more financial sense to retain existing customers than attempt to obtain new ones.
- Have a Technically Brilliant Team: This is especially important if you are offering niche answering services such as legal or medical answering services. Have a team of professionals who are trained not only in call etiquette, but also in client business. This will help you offer a superior experience to the callers as your agents would easily understand the industry jargons used in the conversation, and your clients would happily pay a premium for such well trained agents.
- Invest in Infrastructure: Even if you are running a small call center operation, it is important to make the right investment in infrastructure. Availability, redundancy and security are some of the key concerns of the top management of your potential clients. Therefore, you need to have a clear value proposition for your clients from a technological perspective in order to convince them that you would be able to meet all SLAs, have adequate security systems in place to protect customer data and enough built-in redundancy to ensure true 24*7 operations. It is ideal if you can also have a robust business continuity plan in place.
These are some of the key ways in which you can differentiate your services from that of your competition. Properly differentiating your service from other players, not only helps to boost your revenues, but also help in creating long lasting relationships with your clients!
Are there some points in here we missed? Maybe you are in the market for an answering service provider and have some insight into the customer experience & why you would be drawn to “Provider A” over “Provider B”. Please join the conversation!