What is a Virtual Call Center and How Can I Use it For Business?

what is a virtual call center

A virtual call center (VCC) at the forefront of your business allows customers to interact with courteous and helpful customer service representatives, significantly boosting customer satisfaction and positively impacting your bottom line.

This setup often conveys to customers that they’re dealing with a trustworthy and established company. While setting up a traditional call center may be costly and beyond the reach of many small businesses due to capital and human resource constraints, a VCC offers a viable alternative.

It enables small businesses to provide top-notch telephone customer service without the substantial investment typically associated with physical call centers.

What is a Virtual Call Center?

A virtual call center is a phone support solution that offers businesses a virtual representation of their organization’s offices. It is a call center in which the business’s representatives are geographically dispersed, rather than being situated at work stations in the business premises.

For small businesses, the virtual call center model saves equipment and housing costs, and can lead to lower employee turnover that tends to be high for physical call centers. The model includes the required software, hardware and networking infrastructure used to set up and manage a VCC.

Virtual call center employees may be situated in groups in a number of smaller centers, but most often are freelancers who work from their own homes.

what is a virtual call center

Business Uses and Benefits of Virtual Call Centers

Virtual call centers have emerged as a powerful tool for businesses to enhance their customer service. They combine the efficiency of technology with the human touch of customer service representatives. Here are some top benefits of employing virtual call centers:

  • Cost-Effective Operations: Unlike traditional call centers that require physical space and infrastructure, virtual call centers can operate remotely, reducing overhead costs.
  • Flexibility for Seasonal Demands: For businesses with fluctuating customer support needs, virtual call centers can scale up or down easily, eliminating the need for maintaining large facilities throughout the year.
  • Professional Appearance: A well-managed virtual call center can bolster your company’s professional image, ensuring customers are always met with prompt and efficient support.
  • 24/7 Availability: Most virtual call centers offer round-the-clock support, ensuring your customers receive assistance any time they need, be it weekends, holidays, or late nights.
  • Potential for Profit: As a business model, virtual call centers can be lucrative. With minimal startup costs and the flexibility to operate from home, entrepreneurs can tap into the growing demand for remote customer service solutions.

Incorporating a virtual call center can lead to enhanced customer satisfaction, streamlined operations, and increased profitability for businesses.

How Virtual Call Centers Work

what is a virtual call center

The customer, dialing a customer service support number, is given the impression that their call reaches a physical department within the business when, in fact, it reaches a virtual call center.

Because virtual call center employees most often work from their own homes, the call is quite possibly answered by a stay-at-home parent or other freelancer from his or her home office on behalf of the business.

If you run a small retail store, for example, and customers constantly call to check the status of their orders, then you should have a system in place for keeping track of placed orders. With that system in place, you can easily make it available via the internet so that remote VCC workers can access it.

what is a virtual call center

The VCC workers will now be able to perform simple call answering tasks for you that you would ordinarily have had to do in your office, freeing you time and saving significant overhead costs. Moreover, with a system in place, your VCC can do its job while keeping in line with the rest of your business processes and culture.

Refine your systems and you’re on your way to providing professional customer service just like the big boys.

Virtual Call Center Workflow

Initial Customer CallCustomer dials the service support number, thinking they are contacting the business's physical department.
Call RoutingThe call is directed to a virtual call center, often without the customer realizing.
Responder's LocationTypically, the call is received by remote employees or freelancers, such as stay-at-home parents, answering from their home offices.
Business Scenario: Retail StoreA small retail store may get frequent queries about order statuses. If they have an online order tracking system, VCC agents can access this to provide instant answers to customers.
Benefits to BusinessesUsing VCCs, tasks that traditionally would be done in-office can be handled remotely, offering time savings and reduced overhead costs.
Integration & ProfessionalismWith the right systems in place, VCCs can seamlessly integrate with a business's processes, providing a professional customer service experience akin to larger corporations.

Companies Providing VCC Services for Small Businesses

There are companies that recruit remote workers to provide this call answering service for small businesses. These companies outsource support solely to provide a tailored solution for your business.

The key word here is your; the outsourcing companies are performing your customer service process, which means you need to make sure they can address the issues faced by your customers. So, before you can use the companies effectively, find out what customer service process they offer beforehand.

Depending on your business’s particular needs, you can choose companies that provide dedicated agents who will be focused solely on your business, or shared agents who serve multiple businesses.

With VCC companies, you can choose from a large number of features, including inbound sales, return management, customer service, after-hours support and live chat.

If your small business doesn’t field a lot of calls, it can be difficult to find a VCC company that will be truly cost-effective. In this case, you may want to choose low-volume call center services like those offered by Xact Telesolutions. Xact Telesolution has no monthly call minimums or invoice requirement, which means you can pay only for the services you use.

Other VCC services for small businesses such as TeleDirect offer a complete selection of both inbound and outbound services, including some of the harder-to-find features like cold-calling services. Solid Cactus, on the other hand, offers a customizable call center service that allows you to create a plan based on your business’s exact needs and budget. Companies like Nextiva also provide options for remote mobile agents and much more.

Setting Up Your Virtual Call Center: A Step-by-Step Guide

what is a virtual call center

To help businesses transition to or start with a virtual call center model, a detailed guide can streamline the process, ensuring you cover all necessary bases from technology to team management.

  1. Define Your Customer Service Goals: Before setting up a VCC, clearly outline what you aim to achieve with your customer service. Are you looking to provide 24/7 support, handle high call volumes, or offer specialized services? Your goals will influence the structure and operations of your VCC.
  2. Select the Right Technology and Software: The backbone of a VCC is its technology. Choose a reliable and scalable virtual call center software that offers features such as call routing, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), call recording, and real-time analytics. Cloud-based solutions are preferred for their flexibility and ease of setup.
  3. Hire and Train Your Team: Recruit customer service representatives who are comfortable and experienced with remote work. Provide comprehensive training on your business’s products, services, and customer service protocols. Emphasize the importance of maintaining professionalism and a quiet working environment, even from home.
  4. Implement Your Customer Service Process: Integrate your customer service process into the VCC operations. Ensure your team has access to necessary databases, order tracking systems, and any other tools they need to resolve customer queries efficiently.
  5. Monitor and Optimize Performance: Use your VCC software’s analytics tools to monitor call volumes, representative performance, and customer satisfaction. Regularly review these metrics to identify areas for improvement and optimize your call center operations accordingly.

Choosing a Virtual Call Center Provider: What to Look For

When selecting a VCC provider, consider the following factors to ensure you choose a service that aligns with your business needs:

  • Customization and Scalability: Look for providers that offer customizable solutions and can scale with your business as it grows or as demands fluctuate.
  • Integration Capabilities: The provider should offer software that easily integrates with your existing CRM systems and databases to ensure seamless operations.
  • Reputation and Reliability: Research potential providers, read reviews, and ask for references to gauge their reliability and the quality of their services.
  • Cost Structure: Understand the pricing model and any additional fees. Some providers offer pay-as-you-go plans, which can be cost-effective for businesses with variable call volumes.
  • Support and Training: Ensure the provider offers support in setting up your VCC and training your team on the software. Continuous technical support is crucial for resolving any issues promptly.

what is a virtual call center

Legal and Privacy Considerations for Virtual Call Centers

Running a VCC involves handling sensitive customer information, making compliance with legal and privacy regulations paramount. Consider the following:

  • Data Protection Laws: Familiarize yourself with data protection regulations such as GDPR in Europe or CCPA in California to ensure your VCC complies with relevant laws.
  • Secure Communications: Use encrypted communication channels and secure data storage solutions to protect customer information from unauthorized access.
  • Privacy Policies: Clearly communicate your privacy policies to customers and ensure your VCC operations align with these policies.

Conclusion: Virtual Call Centers as a Strategic Advantage

Virtual call centers represent a strategic advantage for businesses willing to embrace remote work and digital technology. By offering flexibility, cost savings, and the potential to provide exceptional customer service, VCCs can help small businesses compete with larger counterparts on a global stage.

Setting up a VCC requires careful planning and the right partnerships but can ultimately lead to improved customer satisfaction and business growth.

With the right approach, virtual call centers can be an invaluable asset in your business’s customer service strategy.

Call Photo via Shutterstock

David William David William is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. He covers franchises, brick and mortar businesses, public policy and other small business issues. He is also founding editor of WebWriterSpotlight.