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Callback: An Alternative to Hiring Extra Staff to Improve Customer Service

Labor is the biggest expense for any call center. So, what’s the alternative to hiring extra staff to improve customer service?

In the enterprise, building out individual business departments is often an inevitable byproduct of company growth. Marketing and communications teams grow to handle more sophisticated marketing programs and campaigns to optimize the allocation of resources. An HR department expands to ensure the best and brightest continue to walk through the door. And business development teams grow to chase and close more deals to keep sales moving up and to the right. But customer service is still ultimately seen as a cost center, rarely seeing budget approvals, which are commensurate with the revenues it is intended to support.

The need to speak with a company representative will not go away. Customers will always want to know why they were charged for this and how they can cancel that. Even with a seasoned team of call center agents, the increase in customer inquiries associated with growth results in putting callers on hold. To increase call capacity, businesses ideally would add more agents to field more inbound calls. But it is expensive to train and staff more agents, and spiky call volumes will mean there are periods of overstaffing where agents are underutilized.  Embracing A “callback first” approach to customer service, where callers can hang up and receive a callback when an agent is available, is a cheap and effective alternative that improves on areas where hiring more staff is not financially feasible. 

Callback proves efficiency is your middle name

Hiring more service reps during times of high call volumes seems sensible. But what happens when this volume drops? Do you lay off staff, assign them mindless tasks or simply let them surf Facebook at their workstations? All three options eat up valuable time and resources. By offering callback, even the smallest customer service team can handle large volumes of inbound calls. Because customers are willing to wait longer for a callback than they’ll tolerate listening to smooth jazz, callback actually smooths out those inbound calls to fit a natural staffing model. Simply put, callback helps call centers address fluctuating call volumes by maximizing their staff’s potential without burdening individual agents.

Callback is all about the Benjamins

Hiring additional staff can burn through a budget. Background checks aren’t cheap, training seminars are costly, and installing new workstations will run a pretty penny. Callback allows you to do more with less. When a customer elects for a callback they’re no longer driving up a company’s telephone bills by waiting on hold (with toll numbers, companies are charged while the customer waits on hold). And by staggering out that inbound call volume, companies that implement callback can actually increase customer satisfaction and service level while reducing their staffing!

Callback shows the customer they're No. 1

The second any company puts a caller on hold, even for a minute, they risk losing the customer. People dread calling customer service for the sole reason of waiting on hold - it’s still the second biggest customer frustration, behind hidden fees. In today’s 24/7 world, time is money, and that rings true for the customer as well. A callback-first approach shows callers that their time is valuable.

The building out of business departments to support revenue is often a necessary expense, but the expansion of the call center service department doesn’t need to be. Forward-thinking business, such as Amazon, SquareTrade and MetLife, understand this and implemented callback strategies that help them engage customers in the most preferred and intimate contact method: voice. It’s a simple concept but goes a long way toward creating a better customer service experience.