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The Evolution of the Call Center

The call center had its beginnings around the time the telephone became a household standard in the mid-1960s. Since that time, call centers have evolved into the technologically advanced support systems that exist today and make so much of customer service manageable for companies of all sizes.

The First Call Centers

The history of the call center begins in the mid-1960s. The dawn of what would become the call center occurred when various companies began to utilize Private Automated Branch Exchanges, or PABX. These early forms of call centers provided technology that allowed callers to dial a single number, often toll-free, and speak to one of a number of representatives. The technology itself allows calls to be routed through a single channel into multiple “branches” or lines, each handled by an individual representative. The same basic foundation laid by this technology is still in use today in call centers all over the world.

The 1970s saw a growth of the call center idea with the evolution of computer technology leading to the Automatic Call Distributors, or ACDs. This technology allowed calls to go not only to different desks but even to different locations. Customers could suddenly call a single number and be connected with customer service people all over the country and the world.

Reaching Out to Customers

While the first call centers were designed to allow customers to call in, it was not long before businesses began using this technology to call out, as well. Once businesses began to implement call centers for reaching out to customers for sales, the first “telemarketing” was born.

Early customers of telemarketers in the 1980s were fascinated by the availability of technology that allowed companies to call from all over the world. However, the age of the “telemarketer” did not last long. People began to complain about the invasion into their homes of aggressive salespeople, and Congress finally passed legislation that established the national “Do Not Call List” that allowed consumers to block these calls.

Today, most telephone marketing is limited to existing customers who give companies permission to call with reminders and special offers. In a way, the call center has come full circle, existing much more for the benefit of customers calling in than for companies calling out.

Today’s Technology Put to Use

However, that does not mean that today’s technology has been ignored by call centers. Most call center calls are now routed through computer programs rather than dedicated phone systems. This allows workers to access any number of resources to help customers answer questions; enter customer information directly into a database so that everyone has access; and organize phone calls by priority or any other metric the company chooses.

The history of the call center is interesting and informative. It shows how customer service has evolved over time to focus more than ever on the consumer rather than the company.

Why Customer Service is Vital in the Insurance Industry

While customer service is vital in every industry, it is especially important in the insurance field. As customers become ever-more confused with the changes in healthcare law and other types of reform, customer service will continue to take a prominent role in the delivery of insurance services to the public.

However, handling the flood of questions and concerns related to the Affordable Care Act, existing coverage, and other changes in healthcare policy is no easy task. Thankfully, insurance companies can turn to customer service support options, like call centers, to focus customer service efforts and provide clients with a useful resource where they can get answers to their questions and find the information they seek.

How Important is Customer Satisfaction?

Recent research into customer satisfaction levels confirms something that most business owners have always known: the level of satisfaction of customers is directly related to the success of a business. When customers are happy, they are loyal and return again and again to a business. When they are dissatisfied, they begin to look elsewhere for those who can meet their needs.

In fact, according to Kaiser Health News, a number of health insurance companies are facing backlash from frustrated customers—via social media platforms—thanks to “long waits for service and an inability to confirm coverage.” In the insurance industry, recent changes in the law have generated a large number of questions that cannot all be answered through websites or literature. People want to know how the changes in healthcare law are going to affect them. To these customers, finding the answers to these questions and feeling that they can trust their insurance companies are paramount concerns.

Do Call Centers Increase Customer Satisfaction?

The idea of having a call center has been the topic of some unjustified negative publicity in the past few years. Many people hear the words “call center” and immediately think of an impersonal organization that simply funnels customers to endless loops of elevator music, placing them on hold until they hang up in frustration. However, a truly functional call center in no way meets this definition.

A recent article in Forbes stated that The Hartford, one of the nation’s oldest insurance companies, recently received top marks for customer service. The article notes that The Hartford was rated especially high (generated top marks, in fact) based on its call center representatives. Call centers with well-trained representatives may give customers a higher level of satisfaction than other methods.

A call center can help insurance companies handle the influx of questions and concerns about the new healthcare law as well as other queries. Having well-trained call center representatives can mean the difference in reassuring customers and keeping their business or having them begin to look elsewhere for coverage.

Legal Receptionists: How to Reduce the Front-Office Overload

Law firms are unlike most business offices. Their services are so specific to areas of practice and the types of consultation they offer that a single receptionist at the front desk is rarely sufficient. Instead, there are usually several people in the office to help answer the phone. While helpful for the callers, it presents challenges for paralegals, legal assistants, bookkeepers and lawyers with a full workload. Answering the phone can siphon precious hours away from completing other tasks. One solution to this  problems it to outsource the main switchboard line to an inbound call center service. A professional company can minimize the demands on the onsite office staff, creating the needed time and energy for in-house personnel to work on their primary responsibilities.

Areas of Practice

There are many different types of lawyers. While some attorneys handle general practice, others have a specific focus. Some examples include family practice, criminal cases, civil suits, real estate, bankruptcy and corporate law. People who need a lawyer don’t always know or understand that every attorney may not be able to handle every case, especially theirs. An inbound call center can screen callers and find out what types of services they need. The calls can be sorted and funneled as needed, referring some callers to other law groups or gathering information for an experienced attorney to speak to them.

Collecting Information

When taking an initial call from a potential client, there are several questions that need to be asked before a professional can help. This means that each initial phone call can take several minutes. When a law firm has a busy switchboard, it’s difficult for the receptionist to handle all of these calls at once. Callers need to be put on hold, or worse, go directly into voice mail because staff members are too busy talking to other people. Just as an in-house receptionist would be required to ask certain questions, an inbound call center services professional would have a list of questions to ask so that vital background data can be collected through a screening process. Some typical information-gathering questions include the person’s name, contact email and phone number, type of incident, location of the incident or issue, where the person lives and what harm was caused or alleged.

Providing Information

Aside from gathering basic details from potential clients, the front lines of a law firm can also provide information about the practice and answer inquiries. Callers may want to know about the backgrounds and practice areas of the attorneys, what geographic locations and legal jurisdictions are covered, where the offices are located, how billing works and whether specific services are provided. For example, some family lawyers handle adoptions, while others don’t. Callers with specific questions need a professional response and don’t want to be rushed off the phone by someone who needs to tend to the switchboard or run off to a scheduled meeting.

Taking the Next Step

Once important information is gathered from inbound callers, a next step must be taken. Some callers need to be told that the firm can’t help with their issues, while others require the attention of a skilled attorney to give them legal advice. Using call center outsourcing to separate potential clients from those who need to go elsewhere, the workload on in-house staff is pared down to a more manageable level.

Americall offers inbound call center services to law firms and other businesses that reduces the workload for onsite staff so that they can use their skills and knowledge to help potential clients. To learn more about how Americall can help your company, read more about our call center services.

Does Location Matter for Customer Service Call Centers?

Call center services is a growing industry. As businesses concentrate their efforts on marketing, customer service and gathering information from potential clients and current customers, someone needs to be on the other end of the phone line or email chat. Live personnel offer a human connection for businesses and brands trying to improve their conversion rates. The location of call centers has long had an impact on how well outsourcing companies can provide the services needed. As the industry changes and grows, however, the impact of locations is changing as well.

Offshore vs Onshore

While some offshore services have a lower hourly or per-call rate, the quality of the consumer’s experience often offsets the difference. A strong resurgence in American interest in keeping jobs onshore can influence where consumers buy their products. Conversations including cultural differences, language barriers and unfamiliar accents can send up red flags, lowering conversion rates.

Tax Breaks

Where call centers are located can be driven by a number of factors. One of them is that certain states and municipalities offer tax breaks to companies based in their jurisdiction. This incentive can draw desirable employment to geographical areas that would otherwise suffer from lack of industry and income for local residents. The federal government may also play a role, withholding tax breaks from companies who outsource offshore or by rewarding those who provide a much-needed source of employment to Americans.


Real estate prices, rent and the cost of living are another influential point in where call centers are located. High-rent districts can force businesses to go elsewhere if their overhead ratio is too top-heavy.

Employment Opportunities

The right location for a call center is greatly influenced by the availability of suitable people to work there. Providing quality call center services means having employees who can follow directions, speak clearly, engage customers and provide a professional demeanor for inbound or outbound calls. Some projects require a higher level of education and training, such as a medical answering service or dispatch service, while others need only polite and professional personnel with a quality speaking voice. As a result, call centers may be located in college towns and geographical areas where distinguishable accents are non-problematic. A company requiring live chat services, on the other hand, needs workers who can spell well and type quickly. Their workers’ dialects and accents are unimportant, since their fingers do the talking.

Remote Workforce

The use of people working from home has also had an impact on the location of call centers in the industry. With the use of wireless communications and remote networks, a remote workforce enables call centers and virtual receptionists to be located anywhere in the country – or the world — without raising overhead or limiting the field of qualified professionals.

When choosing a company to provide call center outsourcing, individual businesses are now looking at more than simply a location for their workforce. They are able to find companies that fill their needs with reasonable costs, high quality customer service, niche specialization, and low language barrier and dialect hindrances.

5 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Customer Service Practices

You know who your competitors are, and you probably know what makes your company better than your competitors’. Good products aren’t enough, however. Quality customer service improves your customers’ actual experience. They can probably find what they need from a wide range of businesses. Keeping them happy throughout the process of ordering and receiving what they need is the extra step that’s required to coax them to come back to your company instead of trying the competition. A study by Marketing Metrics shows that companies have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling their services to existing customers, as compared to a 5 to 20 percent chance of selling to new customers. In other words, it’s easier to keep the clients you have than to find new ones. Here are five ways to improve upon the customer service experience and retain repeat business.


Is 9 to 5 enough? This is a good time to evaluate your company’s use of after-hours customer service provisions. If your company is tracking its inbound calls, you will know whether you’re missing out on potential business. Are there daily voice mail messages left by people who need help after your office closes? Inbound call center services can field those calls and provide potential clients with a live person to answer their questions or help with order placement.


A clear speaking voice, solid command of the English language and a polite demeanor are all signs of a professional company. Make sure that the customer service agents and telephone answering services you’re using are well-trained and project a professional image.

Tell Them Why You’re Calling

Customers want companies who respect their privacy and their time. If you use outbound calls to contact your customers, make sure they know why you’re calling them. Whether you’re contacting people to inform them that their order has shipped, or that your company is having a sale, be sure to make it clear up front. This builds valuable trust in your client relationships.

Knowledgeable Answers

Sometimes, people just need a little more information before they’re willing to make a purchase. From availability of product details to an explanation of shipping policies, knowledgeable answers to frequently asked questions is the landmark of excellent customer service. Providing this information to customer service representatives can bridge the knowledge gap.

Provide Attention

Customers like attention. Surveys show that customers who get attention are more likely to use that company again. From the friendly voice that answers the phone to the online chat representative who replies to questions, your company can provide better customer service, enticing people to use your business instead of your competition. Online live chat support, live phone order taking and help desk services are all ways to provide focused attention to your customers.

If your company’s existing manpower isn’t enough to handle the demands of your customers, contact Americall to find out how we can help. 1-800-964-3556

How Social Media Complaints and Responses Impact Your Company

Providing a positive customer service experience has become an integral part of a successful business. Statistics from a wide range of surveys and studies shows that customers will go elsewhere when they are unhappy, but they don’t always communicate their displeasure with the company’s customer service department. Businesses that provide stellar customer service through professionally managed outsourcing companies can enjoy positive feedback – or no feedback at all. In today’s business climate, when complaints are received, it’s important to resolve the issue and prevent further dissatisfaction.  Consider these statistics:

  • Dissatisfied customers whose complaints are resolved are more likely than not to use a company again, and even become an advocate, according to Strauss & Seidel.
  • An American Express survey in 2012 revealed that half of all consumers who use social media for customer service reasons say that they do it because they want an actual response from the business about a specific issue.
  • Customers don’t always report a poor experience. According to statistics from Lee Resource, there are 26 other unhappy customers for every one complaint received. When complaints are taken seriously, the problem is hopefully not only resolved with the individual customer, but the root of the source is handled as well. A similar survey by 1Financial Training found that 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t register a complaint, and that 91 percent will leave and never come back.
  • Social media outlets are having a growing impact on businesses, especially when it comes to customer service. More and more customers are using social media comments, industry-related forums and review sites to express their pleasure and displeasure with how companies do business.

Whether it’s a company policy that draws anger or an individual that provides a poor response to a client’s needs, many business owners will never know when there is a problem. The issue at hand will never be discovered, and poor customer relations can continue and grow.

Exploring 5 Future Trends in Call Center Services

Like many aspects of business today, call center services are growing and changing. It’s no longer a matter of if customers can reach your company, but how can customers reach your company. Using outsourced personnel can make the difference between your business being available to answer questions and take orders, or opening the door for your competitors to do it instead. As the call center services industry continues to change and grow, here are five trends we should expect to take place within the next two years.

1. 24-Hour Contact – Customers hope for the ability to interact with companies around the clock. As the restrictions tighten on making personal calls and going online while people are at work, they are gravitating toward companies that offer 24-hour contact. Whether it’s by phone, via chat or with email, they want a response, and they don’t want to be held off until 9 a.m. on the next business day. As more and more businesses adopt around-the-clock technology on multiple channels, customer service call centers will be expected to interact with customers well beyond the former standard of a 9 to 5 workday. Many already do. Look for this trend to grow and become the norm, rather than the exception.

2. Speech Analytics – For companies that want to enhance the first-contact experience, increase sales, improve collections and reduce the number of non-returning customers, speech analytics is a growing trend that can help. About one-fourth of all organizations use speech analytics to evaluate their call center services, and another one-quarter of organizations plan to consider this technology in their future plans.

3. Monitoring Communications - According to a survey by Forrester Research, less than one-third of organizations monitor the quality of front-line communications with their targeted clients. Look for performance and quality assurance management to become more important in the near future. As long as callers are receiving quality customer service, companies will be happy with the results. Monitoring the results through real-time metrics allows businesses to stay in tune with their call center services and determine the success of their efforts.

4. Telecommuting Staff – According to the National Association of Call Centers, more than half of call centers in the U.S. have at least a portion of their workers telecommuting. The incidence of telecommuting customer service personnel and virtual receptionists is growing rapidly, and was expected to jump at least 20 percent within the past year.

5. Effective Self-Service – As customers become more self-sufficient with technology, some customer service-based organizations are predicting that people will gravitate more readily towards self-service. While online shopping and automated phone systems are currently available, systems that allow customers to place orders, check on their status and register complaints at their convenience will soon become the new standard. One prediction by Gartner Summits even predicts that 85 percent of customer transactions will take place between the customer and the business without human interaction.

At Americall, we are a leader in call center services. We are constantly working to improve the technology and customer service experience that we provide on behalf of our clients. Contact us today to find out how we are keeping up with these and other industry trends, and how we can help your business.

4 Reasons Outsourcing Call Center Service Is Good For Your Business

Choosing to outsource call center services is a big step for many companies. It changes how they do business. In some cases, the idea of outsourcing can make business owners feel as if they have less control over the actual treatment and response to their customers. The opposite is true, however. By choosing company that specializes in call center services to handle the particulars, businesses can streamline their efforts for a better result. There are several reasons that outsourcing call center services can be good for your business, and. Here are four of them.


An increase in volume of inbound calls is a top motive for companies to outsource their call center services. When there isn’t enough personnel to handle the number of calls coming in, that means that people are experiencing long wait times before they can speak to someone. Their needs are not being met, and they will go elsewhere. Increasing the ability to answer inbound calls promptly gives companies the ability to improve customer service, adjust the number of personnel to meet the call volume and grow their businesses.


For companies handling call center services in-house, training is often an issue. Inconsistency in training and ground rules can cause inconsistency in how calls are handled and how customers are treated. By outsourcing call center services, businesses are assured that training is consistent and follows one set of standards.


Manufacturers and distributors may find that concentrating their staffing efforts on creating the company’s products is paramount. Dividing their in-house personnel to cover inbound and outbound telephone calls and emails can cause a company to lose focus and divide their resources. Outsourcing inbound and outbound call center services puts the burden of hiring and managing personnel for the customer service and communications arms of the company into the hands of specialized professionals. The focus of product manufacturing and distribution stays within the company’s core concentration.

Cost Efficiency

When inbound and outbound communications are not a central part to a business, outsourcing these tasks can make companies more cost efficient. For example, hiring, managing and training people to handle call center services in-house takes a lot of time and money. Expenses include providing office space, workstations, equipment, managers, insurance and taxes.

How Real Estate Agents Can Better Manage Marketing and Inbound Calls

One of the drawbacks of being a real estate professional with your own company is that you are responsible for everything. From implementing marketing plans for buyers and sellers to handling property management and lead generation, it can be overwhelming. Add in the time it takes to field phone calls and meetings with prospective buyers and sellers while juggling contract proposals, and running a real estate business can be downright exhausting. One solution is to minimize the amount of time it takes to generate leads and handle marketing for the company and for homeowners. By putting one segment of your business in the hands of professionals capable of taking inbound calls and promoting your company with outbound telemarketing, there is more time for you to see to other details and track market trends.

Lead Generation

According to an infographic published by, people are staying in their homes three years longer now than they were just five years ago. As of 2009, 21 percent of homeowners were selling after just two to three years. By 2011, that figure had dropped to just 8 percent. With the housing market rebounding, however, homeowners are starting to change their thinking. Financial situations are changing, families are growing and the number of people selling their homes is increasing. So how can you become the real estate agent that earns that business? By letting people know you are available and that you’re good at what you do. Turning over your lead generation groundwork to call center professionals while you are concentrating on helping people buy and sell homes in your area gives you more time to do what you do best while still growing your business.

Outbound Marketing

Contacting your previous clients who have bought or sold homes in the past four to seven years takes a lot of time and energy. An outbound telemarketing strategy can help you to rekindle relationships with former clients and earn referrals from those who are planning to stay where they are for a few more years. If you haven’t been in business that long, an outbound marketing approach helps you to let people know that you’re available to take on new clients. Brand recognition is key, and a marketing plan can be implemented now to help your company grow. You can also use outbound marketing strategies to help your clients sell their homes faster.

Market Research

Finding people before they put their homes on the market and before they begin their search for a new house is tricky. Outsourcing surveys and market research can help you keep your finger on the pulse of the local real estate climate without you having to dig into this time-consuming but necessary portion of your business. Taking surveys and compiling demographic data on homeowners and renters in your community generates statistics and leads that your real estate business can work with to develop a successful advertising and marketing plan for the future.

Manning the Phones

Once your business begins to flourish, answering the phone is one more way to divide your time. This is another task that can be outsourced. A virtual receptionist can handle incoming phone calls and take information from potential clients or other real estate agents while you’re out in the field and working with other clients.

Americall can help take the time-consuming legwork of lead generation, outbound telemarketing, surveys and market research off your plate so that you can concentrate on clients who are buying and selling homes in your area. Our trained virtual receptionists can also field inbound calls to your business to help you stay organized without being overwhelmed. Contact us today to find out how. 1-800-964-3556

Why Consistency in Customer Service Counts

One of the great things about being a customer is that they can choose where to go for their products, and they have the freedom to decide which company will best serve their needs. Studies show that unhappy customers will shop elsewhere if they don’t get what they want in a way that fulfills their expectations. At the root of this choice is customer service. The quality of the product counts, but chances are they can find the product they need elsewhere if they don’t like the way they’re treated. That’s where the consistency of great customer service comes into play. It can make the distinct difference in customers choosing your company over your competition every time they need your type of goods and services.

Improved Customer Loyalty

Simply put, customers crave attention and satisfaction. When they get it from your company, they will keep coming back time and again. The ability to deliver great customer service every time fosters customer loyalty.

Every Contact Counts

While your business handles the same types of calls every single day, it is not a regular, humdrum approach for the customer. It’s a memorable event. When your clients consistently receive a human element of polite attention to their needs, their confidence in your company grows. When they perceive a consistent lack of interest in their needs, they will go somewhere else. That’s why it’s so important to provide ample attention to orders and customer service questions, whether it’s in online responses or more traditional call center services.


Consistency helps customers to know what to expect when they call your company; what they can count on. It’s part of the reason why they give their business to one company instead of another. It’s not just about the great quality of the product or filling a need they have, they want a business that they can trust.

Social Response

Today’s consumers are intent on receiving good products and polite treatment. When they don’t, they aren’t shy about posting their poor experiences on social media avenues like Facebook and Twitter. This can create a public relations nightmare for companies that don’t keep pace with customer expectations throughout the transaction, from initial shopping for goods and services to completion on their orders.

If your company is unable to provide great customer service for every single caller, every single inquiry, every single request for products or services, it’s time to right the ship and make a change. To find out how Americall can provide consistent customer service for your clients with our results-oriented call center services, click on the Call Center Service tab at the upper left corner of this page.