Call Centers

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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What are call centers? Quite simply put, a call center is a room full of people sitting in cubicles furnished with a computer and a headset and, usually, a binder with information about the company the operators are representing. Call centers can house any number of operators from two or three to several hundred. One common attribute of call centers is that they are open and functioning twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Most provide service even on holidays.

A huge telecommunications company may house more than one call center in what looks much like a warehouse broken into rooms. One call center at which I was a manager had several rooms, each housing two to three hundred operators. The telephone service representatives (TSRs) in one of the rooms handled calls from several major credit card companies' customers. Those TSRs had to have access to and knowledge of each credit card's procedures. In another room, the TSRs provided long distance directory assistance for a nationwide phone system.

Company Call Centers

The technology used in a call center can be impressive. Even in a call center for a business such as a small cable company, there are a number of scenarios that must be addressed, and equipment that can handle those scenarios is necessary. An in-house call center can be expensive to maintain, but, in some cases, the expertise needed by the operators is such that exporting the tasks to an outside service would be just as expensive and, sometimes, less effective.

One advantage of an in-house call center is that procedural changes and updates can be implemented almost immediately. The technology is already in place, and the operators have a solid base of knowledge to support a fast-moving environment. The major disadvantage of an in-house call center can be the cost. For small to mid-sized companies, the cost can be prohibitive, and 24-hour service may not be possible. Some companies opt for an in-house call center with extended hours, such as 8 am to 8 pm and then a transfer to an answering service at night.

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