Thursday, April 12, 2012
In December of 2011, a bill was introduced to Congress that would refuse federal grant or federal loan programs to companies that have offshore call center operations. The US Call Center and Consumer protection Act requires that offshore call center employees reveal their location to U.S. consumers and give them the option to be transferred to a domestic call center. While offshoring remains controversial, it is clear that companies would not outsource their call center operations if it were not for the low overhead costs of doing so. With new technologies, however, onshore call centers can be more affordable and can even be more responsive to customer needs. One such technology is interactive voice response (IVR) technology. While hosted IVR software certainly is not new,  innovative applications of the technology have transformed the way businesses communicate. Hosted IVR’s allow companies to create dynamic phone trees that rout calls to an unlimited number of extensions and build interesting call logic to process calls. Companies of all sizes have already made use of such technology to hire stay at home contract workers from all over the country and avoid expensive facility costs. As mentioned in an interesting article by SoftwareAdvice, Jet Blue has taken the idea of “home sourcing” to a new level by routing calls to 1500 stay at home mothers to manage the company’s call-in reservation system—avoiding expensive call center facility costs. While the airline avoids a centralized call center, Jet Blue consistently is able to maintain the highest customer satisfaction results in the industry.  In addition to the improved support experience, the reduced per capita investment makes the at-home call center model comparable with call center outsourcing. The very same number that allows businesses to create advanced phone trees to connect to clients to remote agents, can also be responsive to customer inquiries through SMS text messages.  Companies like CallFire offer “textable” long codes that can send quick text message responses to customer inquiries. “Textable” long codes are set to transform the ways a business responds to its customers. With customizable auto responses companies can respond to support issues without ever speaking to the client. There are a number of creative ways a support center can automate a response to a customer inquiry and simultaneously make customer service more responsive. Companies plagued with long customer support queues have new ways to expedite support responses with quick and customizable text messages. With SMS text enabled long codes, the company can provide the caller the option of receiving a step by step text message installation directions:

Automated Hold Message: Sorry to keep you on hold, all of our agents are currently unavailable. Press 1 if you would like to receive step-by-step instructions via text message.

The customer could than receive step-by-step text message instructions directly from the customer support line that they initially called into. In addition to responding and interacting with incoming support calls with SMS text messaging, text enabled long codes can reduce the total number of calls that a company receives by having text support options that customers can use as an alternative to call the center. With text enabled long codes, your company has the ability to be more responsive to customer needs while reducing costs.