International Phone Numbers: Centralizing Customer Service with Dedicated Call Centers

Poor customer experience can be a source of lost productivity and revenue for enterprises with a global customer base and a fractured approach to customer experience.

Consider, for example, a fragmented approach to customer service, wherein each department handles its own inquiries. Customers may have a variety of phone numbers to choose from, and if they aren’t positive which department they need, can become overwhelmed before they even pick up the phone. Once the call is placed, it can be difficult for answering agents to properly route the call if the customer has dialed the wrong location. It may be necessary to provide the customer with another number to dial. She would then have to hang up and start the call process over again. This approach reduces efficiency and productivity among agents and can damage relationships with customers.

According to Forrester Research, an investment in improving customer relations can have a direct impact on revenues. Centralizing your customer service efforts with dedicated call centers demands an investment in time, technology, and training, and requires an enterprise-wide commitment to change.

Managing the Growing Pains of a Global Reach

As your customer base expands around the globe, it can become increasingly difficult to juggle their inquiries. Time, language, and employee knowledge can hinder your ability to maintain strong relationships with international customers.  Establishing one or more dedicated call centers can allow you to continue to grow while nurturing your existing customer base.

Many enterprises utilize local, toll-free numbers to grow their international reach. These numbers give customers an easy way to contact the company and help establish a local presence without increasing overhead. But your average employee might not be equipped to handle callers from other countries, and morale could be deeply affected if management suddenly required receptionists and administrative assistants to work overnight to handle inbound calls from other time zones.

Routing these calls to a dedicated call center eliminates the problems associated with growing your client base using your current employees. Customer contact agents are accustomed to working nontraditional shifts to accommodate callers from around the country and around the world.

Dedicated call centers also allow for a great deal of control over the customer experience. In a fragmented system, calls could be handled differently, depending upon who answers. But in a call center environment, managers can create processes for handling every type of inbound call. They can easily maintain consistency in the customer experience, ensuring every call is handled the same way, every time.  And they can use the data collected from inbound call reports to determine how to best staff each call center to ensure queue wait time is minimal and calls are handled quickly and properly the first time.

Overcoming Language and Culture Barriers

But call routing is just the beginning. Once international calls are properly routed to your dedicated call centers, they must be handled properly. Every country and every culture has unique social and business mores. It is critical that your customer agents have the ability to speak the language of the caller with fluency and also possess the ability to connect culturally with that caller.

Cultural competency is a soft skill that can be difficult to measure on paper, especially when hiring remotely.  If you operate your own call centers, it may be wise to enlist the help of specialized staffing agencies with a proven track record of working with international business. These firms can locate candidates who not only demonstrate the technological and language requirements of the job, but who also possess the soft skills necessary to deal with international customers.

An Investment in Customer Relations is an Investment in the Bottom Line

Centralized call centers can greatly personalize and improve customer experience, especially for enterprises with a global customer base. By routing calls through call centers, management has greater control over call quality and can ensure a consistent customer experience, no matter where the call originates. Though it takes an initial investment in time and resources, improved customer relations can have a significant and long-lasting positive impact on the bottom line.

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