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Hiring a Call Center for phone orders

     
3:11 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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We have been investigating hiring a company to take orders over the phone for us. Right now all of our sales are web based - no phone in orders.

We do have a surprising number of customers that want to order over the phone.

Anyone have any idea of the fees that are typically associated with this? Any recommendations on companies to work with? I don't expect to have dozens of phone orders a day - so I need someone small to work with.

How does it work? Does the phone rep typically just enter the order on our web site anyway?

Any suggestions or personal experiences you can share?

3:23 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It's likely that many folks who want to call to place an order also want to ask questions about your products, get recommendations and just generally expect a level of knowledge specific to the product that a $5/hr call center staffer isn't going to know.

I'd think an answering machine and a concerted effort to *promptly* return calls would be a better investment. And of course you'll want a toll-free number for the customer calls.

9:49 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The need to have a live person available to help place web orders or answer questions is growng, but the cost to a compnay to hire their own agents is very high. Call Centers are generally hiring qualified people to handle the needs of the website owner and they are available 24/7. Billing is based on the time the Call Center spends on that account and is generally billed on a per minute rate ranging from .80 cents - to 1.00 per minute. The agents can use the website or they can set up their own software to allow for appropriate scripting and efficiencies. If the webmaster can prepare a page just for the call center staff, that often is the best situation. Bilugual staff is also available in some call centers and that can be very important in some cases.
10:05 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It is not recommended to have a machine or voice mail answer! If you cannot offer live service - either in-house or by hiring a call center, you will create several problems by listing a phone number at all. First, many people will hang up on a recorded message and you will lose orders or frustrate your customers. IF the caller does leave a message, you need someone to listen to them and write them down. Hopefully, the caller spoke clearly, slowly an spelled their name! Finally, returning those calls leads to lots and lots of telephone tag. The amount of time you have to spend to follow up is tremendous. When a call center is involved, they can usually complete the call, answer the question or at the very least, take a message for the person who can solve the problems or return the call and email that to that person directly. By the way, call cetner agents are NOT minimum wage employees...they are paid between $8-$15 an hour!
8:11 pm on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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So does anybody know a website or number for some good call centers?
8:24 pm on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

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ODP has a long list you could check out. Just type "call center" in the search box. If you use an order fulfillment house, you could also check with them.
9:13 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I use Toll Free Live and I think it would be an ideal solution for you. Avi Wilensky
 

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