Retail Call Center Environment Factors to Consider

A retail call center is far different from that of a healthcare or medical office call center. Retail is heavily focused on sales. Retail call center software needs to support the call center representative in all facets of closing sales. However, the call center software alone isn't enough for reps to be successful at their job. The enter call center environment needs to be set up in a way that it supports the sales cycle. Let's see how.

The Unique Environment of a Retail Call Center

There are a number of unique requirements that make retail call centers different from most any other call center. One unique aspect is seasonality. Depending on what a company is selling, their product can be very in-demand during the summer but not so much during the winter. Swimming pools are a great example of this.

How does seasonality affect the call center? One area is staffing. If the majority of calls will occur during the summer, the call center will need to stuff up for the additional volume. Before the summer arrives, executives will need to decide if the call center should expand based on sales. If sales have grown, the call center will need to keep up with new customer growth. This means ensuring the call center software can support additional employees, will function optimally under the heavier load and that the physical center has the space to support more people.

Not every rep needs to be on site. As space in the call center reaches a premium, off-site employees can take on calls. Most all call center software supports remote employees.

Besides any seasonal fluctuations, the daily volume can fluctuate. The call center may receive a flood of customer calls during lunchtime every day. This means the call center will need to be staffed a maximum capacity during lunch. Staff will need to take their lunch breaks around these high volume times.

A service culture that instills values such as high-quality customer service while also having a leadership team in place who can ensure representatives get the support they need will help any retail call center perform at an optimal level.

Having actual products in the call center lets reps walk over to a product in question, pick up it up and provide an accurate answer to a customer's question. Clear product labeling and descriptions can help cut down on calls.

Quick access to product information is essential. Two computer monitors allow reps to research on one while keeping up all customer information on the other. If the rep needs to speak with a specialist, they can open up a chat on the second monitor and engage with another person for specific product information.

In a 2012 study, Velaro found that 1/3 of customers are not willing to be put on hold. Putting a customer on hold is simply not an option. In a high volume call center, it's a simple fact that there will be times when not all agents can respond to each call. How do you get around this problem then?

It all starts with great analytics. Knowing when calls will surge and when they will level off allows call center supervisors to adjust staffing. Call center software systems have varying degrees of call analytics. Call volume analysis should be a required analytic for any retail call center.

To help cut down on hold times, certain retail call center software can call the customer back when an agent is free. A representative doesn't even need to be involved. The call center software detects that all lines are tied up. If no one answers after a pre-determined amount of time, an automated voice will come on and ask the customer if they want a callback. The software will have the customer input their phone number and at a later point, determine that an agent is free and make an automated outbound call.

To recap, factors that affect the performance of a retail call center are:

  • Seasonality fluctuations in call volume
  • Daily fluctuations in call volume
  • A corporate culture that instills high-level customer service values into staff plus a great leadership team
  • Access to actual products within the call center
  • Focus on reducing and eliminating hold times

How To Setup An Efficient Retail Call Center

Setting up a competent retail call center starts with creating an environment that can support your sales cycle, variations in call volume and the right training for representatives. Keeping the call center at peak performance is a never-ending evaluation of what can be improved. Additionally, a culture of communication will help surface problems and allow suggestions to reach the right people. If staff feel they are being heard, they'll likely provide feedback.

Choosing the right technology is crucial to a successful retail business. Establish a streamlined retail communications strategy with 8x8, and focus on growing your business. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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