When you hear the term “call center,” what jobs come to mind? Most people will say some sort of variation of customer service and technical support roles. These positions are generally what you would find if you walked into a remote staffing company or a BPO (business process outsourcing) company. These jobs fit into many industries, and instead of mentioning them in every industry, they deserve their own section. What types of general call center staff you will need is dependent on what your product or service is and what you hope to achieve by hiring them. It would make sense that if you wanted better customer service reviews, you stepped up your customer service department, your technical support department, and maybe even your sales department. The following roles can all be done remotely; whether or not you have them working in your remote staffing partner’s office or from home is your choice.
Customer Service Representatives (CSR)
This position comes with a couple of variations where the word agent or specialist may replace the representative part. As the name suggests, their primary role is to assist customers with their non-technical problems, focusing on ensuring a great customer experience; usually, this consists of answering questions or redirecting them to the appropriate department. The CSR staff you hire can work in an office or from their homes. If you choose to engage through a BPO, you don’t have to worry about the recruitment process and select from the candidates that make it through the screening and assessments. At the end of it, you can decide whether or not the newly hired staff can work from home or in the office of the BPO you partnered with.
There are two main types of customer service jobs in the remote space: voice and non-voice. As the name suggests, voice accounts have customer service agents answering customer calls and replying to their inquiries. When you buy any product, the toll-free number on the back of the packaging connects you to a customer service representative that answers your questions. Customer service can be both inbound and outbound. Inbound calls being the most common variation, where a customer needs help and calls the company. The outbound customer service agents involve a more proactive approach. They call customers who have recently purchased an item or avail of a service and follow up with questions on their experience and try to help them out. Outbound customer service agents are also great to upsell if the customer is pleased with the transaction.
Non-voice accounts provide support to customers without the need for a call to happen. These positions require staff with higher reading comprehension and writing skills due to the amount of time they’re given to read and reply to written inquiries. These written inquiries include live chat support, email support, and ticket support.
Live chat support staff answer inquiries in real-time, this type of support involves having some sort of chat system integrated with your website. According to Sarah from HelpScout, many live chat support staff monitor 3 to 5 chats at once after being trained. A survey done by Kayako reported that 63% of consumers who shop online are more likely to be loyal to companies that offer live chats. The live chat option has the potential to grow your business while you provide excellent customer service.
Email support is another form of non-voice support. The job is exactly what it sounds like, a customer has an inquiry, and instead of calling or asking in a live chat, they just write an email with their questions, send it, then wait for a reply from the company. It’s a tried and tested form of customer service. While the newer generation of consumers prefers live interactions, there is still a vast audience that would instead inquire via email.
Ticket support is similar to email support because it’s written. The difference between email support and tickets is that tickets can be done from 1 system. This ticket support system keeps a team organized, and every member can look at tickets on the same system and take over them without any overlapping. As part of staying organized, there is a central dashboard where everyone can see how many tickets were handled, how many are pending, and other stats depending on what type of system you chose to use. You will also never have to worry about emails ending up in a spam folder if you elect to use a ticket system.
A solid CSR department, no matter the type you have, dramatically affects your business. Good customer service is often the difference between one-time customers and repeat business.
Technical Support Representatives
This job is almost precisely like CSR, even having its abbreviation as TSR. They are also called technical support specialists, where the term specialist is interchangeable with several other terms, but overall, the job remains mostly the same. The main job of tech support is where CSR and TSR differ. Tech supports address and resolves technical issues customers are having in the shortest amount of time possible. This job can also be broken down into voiced and non-voice, again like, CSR jobs.
Voice calls are the most common type of tech support. If you’ve ever called a company because you had a problem, chances are you’ve talked to a technical support representative as it is their job to resolve issues as fast as possible; the calls are straight to the point.
The non-voice variants include email, ticket, and live chat support, with the latter not being as common. Email support is precisely what it sounds like. A customer sends an email about a problem they have, and then the tech support agent replies with a list of steps that could fix it. There is generally a back and forth between the two, so the tech support may send several emails, take note that for most cases, one customer has one tech support helping them. The fewer emails, the better, as obviously, the issue isn’t closed until the problem is resolved. The same thing goes for a ticket system. Like with CSR cases, the system is relatively the same, except collaborating is a lot easier as it is plainly stated when someone else is handling a ticket and when someone takes over the said ticket. Live chats have grown more popular, and technical supports have also moved onto that platform, as more people opt for a text chat to avoid audio problems with a phone call. Like its CSR counterpart, in the case of live chats, they may be in multiple chats at once, though not in as many to keep their response and solve times low.
Data Entry Specialists
Aside from CSR, data entry jobs make up most of the usual call center/remote staff jobs. Their typical workload consists of maintaining and updating a database and processing customer documents to ensure accurate records. Requirements for this position include great attention to detail, competent typing speed (dependent on your needs), and a working knowledge of spreadsheets and text processing tools.
Data entry specialists take over all the trivial but important tasks involving entering and checking data. For example, having a data entry specialist partnered up with a sales agent or just added in after the sales process frees up the sales agent to go back to selling again instead of being bogged down with administrative tasks. The time saved may seem small initially, but over time, you can see what a huge impact it makes when your sales staff has more time to sell.
Quality Assurance Specialists
Whenever you have CSR or data entry staff, you’re also going to need a Quality Assurance Specialist or a QA. Again, as the name suggests, their job involves checking the quality of work being done. How this works depends on what type of work is being studied. If it’s voiced customer service, they are given recordings to review, they check for things like accuracy, speed, any other KPIs set, and use the information they gather to help create a standardized process to communicate with your customers. In the case of non-voice jobs, it is essentially the same but with documents. Depending on the experience of the QA specialist, they can also function as a sort of coach if the team lacks one. Requirements for this job include analytical skills, the ability to stay organized and on schedule as there is a high volume of calls and documents that need to be checked on a day-to-day basis.
Like customer service agents, sales representatives come in two main variants, inbound and outbound, with a lead generation department being a part of sales. All these roles fall under the branch of telesales. The sales department is usually the lifeblood of an organization, as without any paying customers, there generally is no business.
Inbound sales agents wait for customer calls. These calls are from customers who are either interested in buying or sure buyers. For the most part, there isn’t much of a sales push unless there is upselling to be done. Upselling is a sales strategy where the sales agent encourages the customer to buy a higher-end product/service or get an additional product/service in addition to what they’re already getting. An example of upselling can be seen when car salesmen offer a luxury or “fully loaded” version of a car, you could walk in buying a manual car, and they upsell you to the automatic version, which is more expensive but is more accessible to drive due to the transmission not needing a clutch or gear shifter.
Outbound sales is generally the most thought of sales position. These people go by many names; one of the most common is “telemarketer.” Their job is to close deals, which in turn brings in revenue for your company. Without a lead generation team, they are also in charge of contacting potential customers and talking about their products and services.
Lead generation teams are an additional step customers go through before they get to the sales team. Lead generation agents prime the customer for the sales agent. All their calls are cold calls, meaning they are unsolicited, as they are the first person who will contact potential customers. When an interested customer is found, depending on the company’s process, they are either directly transferred or marked on a database for a sales agent to call later.
As with any team, there has to be oversight and someone keeping everything running smoothly. As your staff will be working remotely, either in an office not close to you or at home, a team leader acts as your boots on the ground. In a BPO setting, where an account manager helps oversee your staff, there isn’t an overwhelming need for a dedicated team leader, especially on a small team. A team leader usually watches between 5 and 20 people. Their duties include:
- Supporting the manager and performing management duties when needed
- Serve as the bridge between management and staff
- Effectively communicates with team members, addressing goals and areas of improvement
- Monitoring staff progress and issues
- Providing coaching and training to staff based on QA analysis
Team leaders are responsible for keeping the team together. Serving as a bridge between management and staff is a difficult job, but it allows for a very smooth and efficient working environment when done correctly. They keep the staff happy and running efficiently, even providing training if there isn’t a dedicated trainer on the team. Many times the success of your remote staff is based mainly on how effective your team leader is.
These are the universal remote staffing jobs in the call center world. No matter the industry, these jobs are needed in some capacity. Making a plan for hiring remote staff should always be the first step. Make sure you know how they will affect your current staff. In most cases, these jobs are added to alleviate pressure from your primary team, so making sure they can do the job is imperative. Whether you choose to hire freelance or with a BPO, make sure you research which type of position would benefit your business the most. If partnering with a BPO, feel free to inquire about what type of staff would be best suited for your needs; your point of contact should be able to give you the answers you need.