Selling informal contact centres solutions to SMEs with customer-facing teams


What is an informal contact centre?
At Tollring, we perceive the informal contact centre SME space to be in the range of 5-30 seats (across multiple departments / contact points), a size rarely spoken about when discussing contact centre management, even though a huge number of businesses fit into this category – a huge untapped market for resellers.  Many businesses do not appreciate that they have an informal contact centre yet most will agree that more effective customer interactions are essential to every business.

  • Informal contact centres typically comprise of various customer facing teams (sales, customer service, finance, support) who take inbound calls, make outbound calls and undertake other business activities (so are not purely on phones all day). 
  • The informal contact centre consists of customer-facing teams that need to meet service level or performance targets.  No matter the size of the contact team, the same level of management information is required to effectively meet business goals. 
  • Informal contact centres are becoming more prevalent due to the in-built intelligence that can now be found in most telephony platforms whether they are hosted or premise-based.  Calls can be easily transferred to any part of the business, so customer facing teams have access to all members of staff which allows businesses to be more agile in the way they utilise staff. 

The scalability of the telephony system for informal contact centres
Whether a hosted or PBX system is chosen by the customer, a scalable informal contact centre can easily be achieved when integrated with call management such as iCall Suite.  Tollring has developed a unique level of integration with Samsung OfficeServ or the ELG iPECS specifically for informal contact centres.  For hosted telephony, the same levels of integration have been developed for the BroadWorks and Mitel MiCloud platforms.

UCD/ACD groups can deliver useful historical and real-time call analytics such as unreturned missed calls and calls queuing.  iCall Suite will grow (or contract) with the business no matter how the phone system is deployed and will scale up until the phone system can no longer cope with the team’s call routing requirements.  Only then would a call centre solution be required with features such as IVR and skills-based routing.

Simon Whatley from Tollring recommends that resellers follow 5 steps when selling to a business with customer facing teams / an informal contact centre:

  1. Consider the size of the business and the speed of growth
  2. Explore the structure of the organisation (how many customer facing teams, the roles of the call handlers)
  3. Analyse the functionality required from the phone system (ACD groups, routing requirements, auto attendant options)
  4. Recommend a phone system that can cater for their needs and for the number of extensions required, with room for growth based on their company objectives. Consider their needs for web access / remote working.  Explain at what point the phone system would no longer cope and the migration paths available at that point.
  5. Demonstrate analytics that integrate with the phone system to deliver contact team functionality, always keeping the ROI in the conversation. For example:  
  • Control staff resources.  The cost of staff resources will always be the biggest cost to a business with a contact team, but managing call flows and customer interactions in order to retain high customer service levels does not necessarily mean employing more call handlers.  Performance monitoring, queue management, staff modelling, caller tolerance, managing agent status and reporting on unreturned missed calls or grade of service are all vital to maximise efficiencies, no matter how large the team.  It is almost more important for a small business, where one additional team member adds a large percentage of cost.  Use the analytics to understand if and when this is needed.    
  • Monitor performance.  Call recording has become an essential training component for any business with contact teams.  By analysing inbound and outbound calls regularly it is easier to identify issues and problems and put preventative measures in place.  Listening to calls helps to establish trends, select and correct areas of improvement and evaluate other key information which would otherwise be lost.  Businesses are now realising that it is no longer just about having access to the odd call recording due to a complaint, it’s about maximising your customer intelligence, which is made easy with a fully integrated call management solution.
  • View real-time analytics via reports, dashboards and team wallboards.  Live statistics delivered via dashboards enable managers to base decisions on accurate and invaluable data.  Supervisors can manage their teams and see ‘live’ call activity, while call handlers can control calls and view their group’s activity.

Tollring delivers exceptional expertise in developing fully integrated informal contact centre solutions delivered both on-premise and via the cloud.  Our solutions are proven to be a cost-effective option for SMEs with customer-facing teams.

iCall Suite from Tollring is a fully integrated cloud or on-premise call management suite, scalable to any business, limited only by a phone system.  Such a solution, fully integrated with the most suitable premise based or hosted telephony system for a particular business, is ideal for an informal contact centre environment.

As quoted in Comms Business June 2015.