A company’s duties don’t end once it makes a sale. They are also responsible for any defects in the product, or any personal inconvenience their merchandise can possibly cause. This is why the biggest companies all offer extensive customer support services. Successful firms have hundreds of thousands of clients; all these people can call officially-designated numbers for any inquiries or concerns about their purchase.

As an organization grows, the sheer volume of incoming requests from customers threatens to overwhelm the company. More sales mean more customers, which, statistically, would mean that there would be more inquiries regarding the company’s product or service. Customers who have experiences with faulty merchandise are usually most likely to vent their anger at the company representative they call. It becomes necessary for many companies to establish departments, called call centers, dedicated solely to talking with clients.

Management of these companies soon realized that using call centers was a more efficient way of handling customer services. By designing strict routines and protocols to handle almost every type of situation a call center agent may encounter, response times can be minimized while productivity is increased. It’s the product of many common optimization strategies in manufacturing that were adapted for a service-oriented application.

In a typical call center, hundreds of people work in rotating shifts around the clock. They are each assigned a phone and a computer to use during their shifts. They would wait in place until a call comes in and then respond via a codified set of rules. Each call is recorded and their supervisors are free to review their work at any time. They are taught to always be courteous and polite to callers. Even if the customer they’re talking to has lost their temper, standards of professionalism have to be maintained at all times.

Another common call center variant involves the agents calling up the customers themselves. They are mostly used to advertise special services and products offered by their company. Market data can also be effectively gathered by agents doing phone surveys.

In recent years, more and more organizations have been outsourcing their call center operations to developing countries. With the current economy being what it is, such a move would often garner significant savings for these corporations.

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