How to Start a Virtual Call Center (+Tips for eCommerce Support)

As your eCommerce store grows, starting a virtual call center can help ease the increasing burden of support.

But the problem is that most merchants don’t know where to begin.

And with a million and one other things on your plate, finding the time to set up a virtual call center can be tricky.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to start a virtual call center with the least amount of effort. 

We’ll cover:

  • What a virtual call center is
  • Why you should start a virtual call center
  • How to hire and train agents
  • The best eCommerce call center tools
  • Learning to manage your tram remotely

So, if you’re ready to build a virtual call center and level up your eCommerce support, let’s get to it!

What is a Virtual Call Center?

A virtual call center is a web-based customer support center where agents help customers succeed.

The main difference between virtual vs. traditional call centers is that, in a virtual center, the agents can be located anywhere in the world.

For example, virtual call center agents often work from home, helping customers solve problems and become more successful with your products.

Virtual call centers leverage VoIP, and cloud-based software to enable agents to receive (and make) calls over the internet.

From an eCommerce perspective, if you’ve ever got in touch with Shopify support, they operate via a virtual call center. 

All of their agents (most of which are awesome) work remotely through Shopify’s support center.

And in 2021, the same is probably true for a significant number of eCom brands and businesses.

So, why is everyone moving to a virtual call center? 

Well, because they offer a distinct number of advantages.

Why Start a Virtual Call Center?

The main reason to start a virtual call center is that it empowers you to deliver better customer service.

See, nowadays, customers want instant support. The days of waiting three days for an email response are over.

That’s what offering phone support directly on your store is a sure-fire way to delight customers and keep them coming back.

What’s more, thanks to its remote nature, a virtual call center allows you to provide round-the-clock support to multiple time zones (and hire the best talent).

Thirdly, a virtual call center is incredibly cost-effective. 

Most call center software is available at a reasonable monthly subscription compared with outsourcing your customer service, which can cost a fortune.

Beyond a few basics like a headset and laptop, the overall costs of starting a virtual call center are negligible compared to the value it adds to your business.

How to Hire and Train Virtual Call Center Agents

Your virtual call center is only as good as the agents who man the phones.

Platforms like UpWork and People Per Hour are great places to start your search,

But hiring the right talent can be tricky, especially with so many agents to choose from.

Here’s what to look for in the best candidates for the job:

  • Has experience working independently
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Performs well without micromanagement
  • Isn’t afraid to ask for help when uncertainty arises
  • Has experience with your eCommerce platform of choice

In addition to these qualities, ensure that support agents have:

  • Reliable high-speed internet (and backup if required)
  • A quiet space where they can make and receive calls
  • A private layout where customer data won’t be at risk

Once you’ve created a shortlist of candidates, run interviews and hire the most impressive agents.

Next, you’ll want to train them. 

Create an onboarding document walking them through the tools, policies, and best practices they need to know. Send them any customer service phrases or canned responses that may be helpful too.

Add new hires to your Slack channel and introduce them to the rest of your team. Use screen sharing to show them essential functions and processes of your software and how your business operates.

Then set up a weekly check-in meeting to keep track of their work and iron out any problems that may arise.

📚Suggested Reading: How and when to hire a Shopify virtual assistant.

Choose The Right Virtual Call Center Tools

When doing anything, the right tools make your life a whole lot easier. And that’s especially true when you’re building an eCommerce call center.

From a hardware perspective, you’ll need all your agents to have:

  • A company-issued laptop (or their own if budget is tight)
  • Two high-quality headsets (one backup) 
  • An ergonomic mouse and keyboard
  • A two-factor authentication device for log-in (i.e., mobile phone)
  • A polarized privacy screen to protect customer data

When it comes to virtual call center software, there are several options on the market – so choosing can be difficult.

But the best virtual call center tools share specific characteristics. Keep your eyes peeled for tools that are:

  • Easy to implement: Your time is precious. Time spent learning how to use new software is time not spent attracting new customers.
  • Purpose-built for your needs: The best tools are rarely everything to everybody. Choose a tool that’s designed to meet your specific needs and avoid getting seduced by extras.
  • Have excellent support: Things can and will go wrong. Make sure your provider can provide fast fixes for when errors pop up.
  • Offers detailed analytics: You want to know your busiest hours and support load so you can plan accordingly. Plus, tracking key customer satisfaction metrics will ensure you deliver the highest levels of service.
  • Integrate with your current tools: Great things happen when everything works together -in a disjointed world, integrations are your best friend.

If your eCommerce business runs on Shopify, our best advice is to check out EasyCall (unsurprisingly). 

It’s got a bunch of cool features like a click-to-call widget, call recording, and advanced analytics too.

As fellow merchants, we built it to be the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to start a virtual call center in the Shopify ecosystem.

Learn How to Manage Your Team Remotely

Starting a virtual call center means you’ll need to lead a team of remote support staff.

And when you’re not in the same physical location every day, maintaining relationships can be tricky.

As the person responsible for keeping your team collaborating and productive, it’s imperative to facilitate communication.

Remember, your support team doesn’t just handle customer queries.

They’re also one of the most valuable sources of feedback with regards to your products, website, shopping experience, etc.

So, here’s two must-dos to leverage their customer-facing value:

  • Schedule regular (weekly) meetings via Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype.
  • Set up a dedicated support channel on your company Slack

Beyond just keeping tabs on work, it’s not uncommon for remote workers to feel left out of your company culture.

That’s why it’s a good idea to include remote workers in non-work-related activities. 

Arranging catch-ups with other staff members on Slack (using Random Coffees), hosting an after-work beer, or even flying remote employees to in-person events goes a long way to keeping morale high.

Remember, even though your support workers might be thousands of kilometers away, keeping them motivated for work is just as important as if they were sitting in your office.

Because no matter how sophisticated your virtual call center software is, unhappy support staff will inevitably lead to unhappy customers.

Start a Virtual Call Center Today

Starting a call center used to be a big step for eCommerce businesses. You’d have to rent office space, invest in furniture, hire office managers, and more.

But nowadays, thanks to cloud-based software like EasyCall, you can start a virtual call center with pretty much no upfront cost.

To recap, the three pillars of running a virtual call center are:

  • Hiring the best people
  • Using the right tools
  • Managing your team remotely

Remember, your goal as a business is to serve your customers. 

Starting a virtual call center for your eCom store is a terrific way to make more sales, streamline your support and boost customer satisfaction.

And that’s a trifecta that doesn’t come easy these days!

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