Run call centers effectively, efficiently and affordably with VoIP

Call centers often have specific needs and requirements to operate properly. Between the sheer volume of calls that take place at large call centers and the budget considerations that come with smaller operations, effective phone systems need to be both robust and flexible.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems help to organize call centers in such a way that a company can have the features it needs without purchasing an all-encompassing system at a high price.

“A lot of call centers don’t like to put all of their eggs in one basket and it’s hard to divide up call center resources,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director for Ohio.net. “Companies that use VoIP can take advantage of what the platform has to offer and toggle it on or off by groups of phones or individual phones so that they’re really only paying for what they’re using.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about the benefits and logistics of incorporating VoIP into call center environments.

How does VoIP fit with companies that need call centers?

VoIP systems offer several features for call centers. Call recording, for instance, can either be a set of add-on recording servers and switches, or the company can pick a VoIP platform that has call recording built right in.

Call detail reporting, which includes the trends of inbound and outbound calling, presents good reports to review and see what marketing is working and what’s not. A lot of traditional phone companies just provide a list of how many calls took place, how long they were and how much each call cost. With a VoIP system, a company can measure trends by generating reports showing busy times of the day, week or month, and then drill down to which operators are handling the most calls, who’s on the phone the most, or how much time there is between calls.

VoIP also allows for monitoring or listen in, where a call center manager can listen to calls or can talk so that only the operator can hear what they say. With a barge-in feature, somebody can actually take over a call.

What if a company already has the phone system resources for a call center?

At that point it’s about building a cost-effective dial tone program, which features a less expensive dial tone, a very competitive price on toll-free inbound calling and all of the recording resources or monitoring resources that could be wanted. VoIP is also very good for disaster recovery backup if main line traditional telecom fails, or if a company wants to try something new.

Is there a major capital expense to set up VoIP for a call center for the first time?

It almost can be handled on a test case basis because you can add or remove services without penalty. If a company wants to try telemarketing or a call center, for example, and decides after six months that it’s not a good fit, the service can be turned off. On the flip side, if it is helping the business it can be ramped up even more — just start adding desk phones and the company can grow its call center. With traditional call center systems, often a company has to add all of the software, cards, hardware, the features and the support even if it only has one operator. That’s a significant capital investment. With VoIP, phone expenditures can fluctuate up and down based on the number of operators a company needs.

How do you size a VoIP system properly for call centers?

Call centers can be anything from a major operation consisting of hundreds of agents with very sophisticated phone systems to small organizations that have a handful of people. Scalability is an area where a VoIP system can really help a call center.

Call centers often handle a couple functions for an organization, and sometimes companies have to separate clients and customers for the type of business being handled. In this case, they can very easily spin up a VoIP call center that is technically and physically separated. That can be very hard to do with a phone system that is designed to be all-inclusive.