Inbound Call Centers

What do inbound call centers do?

In inbound call centers calls are initiated by the customer to obtain information, report a malfunction or ask for help. This is substantially different from outbound calls where the agent initiates the call to a customer mostly with the aim to sell a product or a service to that customer. In the past few years many manufacturers have realized the importance of a strong customer support base to retain customers. Inbound call center handle calls coming in from outside, most often through toll free numbers (1-800-number). These calls are primarily service and support calls offered free of charge to a company’s customer but it also includes inbound sales.

The services of inbound call centers are designed to handle catalog orders, technical help desk queries, and give dealer locations and more. They offer customized services that are designed to meet the requirements of all kinds of businesses. The inbound call center professionals process calls and integrate Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and/or Internet services to sell additional products and offer services in a dedicated 24 hours 7 days a week environment. They also integrate customer care services, predict customer behavior and take action, while the customers are still on the line. High standards of communication are maintained and a polite, courteous business like language is used throughout by the agents.

Most inbound call centers specify an Average Handling Time (AHT) of calls for its agents. Average Handling Time is the average of talk time plus the average of time a customer is put on hold. Agents are required to solve the customer’s queries within this stipulated time. If due to some reasons a call gets extended, an agent is expected to cover up the average handling time on other calls. The AHT differs for different inbound call centers. For example in case of a call centre handling airline tickets it could be 5 minutes while for call centers giving technical support for computers it could be 25 minutes.

The performance of inbound call centers is judged by the number of calls which come to the call centre and are answered. Unanswered calls or dropped calls (customer hanging up due to long waiting period to talk to an agent) lower the quality metric of a call centre .Call centre managers try to predict the call volume at different times of the day and according plan shifts of various agents. The environment in inbound call centers can become stressful if the call volume becomes too large and the number of active agents on duty to handle them is less.