Call Center

Resources for Improving Call Center Operations

  • What is a Call Center?

    Call Centers manage both inbound and outbound communications. Inbound Call Centers handle product orders, complaints, questions about accounts and technical advice. Outbound Call Centers handle marketing to new and existing customers and debt collection. In large companies, internal Call Centers provide technical and sales support services to employees.
  • The History of Call Centers

    The development of Call Centers reflects the shift of manufacturing from individual craftsmen to mass production, as well as innovation in communications technology. The telephone was invented in 1876 and the telephone switchboard in 1894, which created a new way for a customer to contact a merchant. At large companies Call Centers emerged in the 1960s, and they became prolific in the 1970s with the emergence of interactive voice response (IVR), through which a customer could interact with a computer and be provided with automated assistance. These IVR systems often rely on touchtone dialing, which appeared in 1962 (1-800 numbers came along in 1967). In the early 1990s outsourcing of Customer Service Center functions was the prevailing trend, aided by the rise of the Internet.
  • Modern Trends in Call Centers

    Customer connection channels continue to develop, with email and live chat becoming part of the mix. Social networking technologies, such as Twitter and Facebook, allow companies to monitor customer opinions and respond. Information gathered about customers in Call Centers has become an integral part of companies’ customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

    New technologies, such as speech recognition, natural language processing and text mining, are now in wide use. Software allows a “universal queue” that sorts communication across all contact mediums. “Virtual” call centers have begun to emerge: customer contacts are managed outside the company by a vendor. Technology also permits the decentralization of Call Center workers, which allows them to work from home (or from other remote locations).

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