How does a small call center for an online store work from the inside

    The first thesis: each call costs 500 rubles, so it is really very important for us.

    Over the course of a couple of years, we have evolved from two or three operators with cell phones to a full-fledged call center that works confidently on sales and service. Below are practical conclusions and a description of the work, which will be useful to those who are just going to make such a center at home.

    Technical platform

    For starters, you need a multi-channel platform that allows you to receive an incoming call on one number to several people at once. When we were very young, we used “Hello Incognito”, but they have two features: it is difficult to scale, the number of the incoming is not determined (you need to ask the number of the client) plus the number of the outgoing is not determined, therefore the client cannot call back. When we grew to a dozen operators, we chose a more systematic solution - a mini-automatic telephone exchange with two incoming multi-channel lines from two different independent companies. This means that when something falls on one operator, the second does not work at the same time, that is, the call center continues to work.

    How do we know that something has fallen? All lines are tied to processing on the local server (statistics are kept there and other parameters are taken into account), and if there are no incoming calls on one of the lines within half an hour, two things happen:
    • An alert is generated for the leader and senior shift;
    • Phones are exchanged on the site (the first is called at times more often).

    To work with voice only through IP is not very successful so far - it is not possible to find the necessary unlimited, for example. Therefore, the ideal option is a hybrid: IP for incoming and IP + cellular unlimited for outgoing.

    When the Internet falls off in the office, half the services of the call center fall, so this connection is also suitable by cable from two providers. It is possible to go into emergency mode on cell phones, however, with cutting off almost all the functionality.

    Another requirement for the platform - it must be able to forward the number of the caller inside the software that processes calls. The next requirement is the minimum tariffing for outgoing calls, that is, a “smart” choice of the call path. All outgoing messages should give numbers that are defined by the person as the number of our store, and not someone in the middle in the infrastructure.

    If you are going to create your own call center for a store with 10-15 operators, it is worth looking in the direction of virtual exchanges from mobile operators: this is one of the budget solutions. Sometimes even a city network can provide most of the functionality, depending on the region.

    Types of calls and service

    The online store can call on the following topics:
    • Ask for a specific product , such as availability. Many stores believe that it’s enough to say that there is such a product and hang up. From the client’s side it looks like this: it’s clear that if he picked up the phone and dialed you to find out if there is any thing, he definitely needs to be sold. And if this did not happen with a certain conversion level, it means that the operator “scared off” something.
    • Ask about delivery or price . If you think about it - the motivation for the call is the same. With proper organization, there is an almost complete conversion into buyers.
    • Clarify about the place of pickup or about the road to the point . This is also almost a finished sale, if you “bring it by the hand” to the store. Operators know in great detail all approaches to our points in different cities, in particular, some are guided even by advertising nearby (people often call advertising something noticeable, for example, a billboard on the road, as one of the significant landmarks). With such a call, a reserve is immediately made in the store itself, if the client has not thought about this earlier.
    • For the choice of goods . This is a difficult moment: if a person scored and asked you, he definitely wants to buy it. Another thing is that in answering such a question a whole sea opens up for possible schools, so you need to carefully consider how to respond. Ideal outcomes - delivery or reserve in the store for a specific person.
    • And the last case is job calls , spam, and other organization issues. By the way, sometimes it turns out to be spammers by clients, this is such a challenge.

    Now imagine: your phone rings. If you do not pick up the phone, you lose 500 rubles, because statistically you would have received them with any answer. If you answer, but not enough fun, provocatively, positively or specifically - the same thing. Understanding the value of each call teaches that it is very important for the company very, very good and fast.

    Call distribution

    One call arrives immediately 3-4 free operators. The one who picks up the phone first is the sneaker. Yes, in many companies sequential transfer is used, and it has its advantages, but after a series of experiments we still settled on this option.

    The client is not forwarded to another operator, unless this is an exceptional situation. An exception may be the notification of our error (then the client switches to an older shift to solve the situation). The second type of call forwarding is forwarding to people who are called through the call center. For example, at work or at wholesale. The third case is when the connection is lost, for example, in the subway: another operator can pick up the phone and, if possible, return it to the one that has already spoken to the client.

    Before an outgoing call, the operator carefully looks at the customer’s order, checks the availability of goods at the outlets, calculates the nearest delivery options and so on (this is half automated), plus it caches other data that may be useful in its memory and on the screen. The phrase "uh, now I look, wait" in a conversation - this is a jamb. It is better to make a certain time to memory tradeoff by putting more operators, but at the same time guarantee the accuracy and efficiency of responses.

    When the order contains a game that is not available, the operator finds out the reason and tells the client the specifics. For example, in the summer of 2011 due to fires the wooden Jenga ceased to arrive - the Europeans made a beautiful gesture in defense of the forests. The operator knew exactly when the next batch would arrive and was ready to offer analogues, or pre-order these numbers. Our knowledge base contains not only data that there is no product, but also comments from suppliers and purchasers on this subject. By the way, suppliers often embellish reality, and buyers add their data, consistent with reality. For example, if the supplier's reliability coefficient is low, then the supply forecast is adjusted for two weeks so as not to create unnecessary illusions. These two weeks are calculated from the previous lateness of this provider. Bottom line - the operator receives the data and can explain to the client not only the current situation, but also talk more about the game. This is often quite important, including for a purchase: for example, if it is known for certain that the item has been discontinued, the client will not wait for it, but will probably take an analogue or refuse the transaction. Do not create unnecessary illusions - this is an important principle of communication.

    Further, the operator is always ready to accept a “bookmark” for pre-ordering something that has not arrived yet. He creates an event in the system that fires when the goods arrive - and we call to notify the person or write to him.


    Incoming orders that arrived overnight must be processed before 12 in the morning - otherwise some of the customers, having not received a call, will be ordered somewhere else. Another period of order processing is associated with the delivery deadline for today, the third period is with the window from 15 to 18, when the call intensity drops, and you can use the time for outgoing calls. By the way, the maximum incoming - from 11 to 15, and then - in the evening.

    The schedule of operators is calculated dynamically based on our data for the same periods of the last year, current trends and advertising activity. For example, on the day after topics about games on Habré ( once and twice ) an enhanced shift was released, expecting - quite justifiably - the habra effect.

    Those who cannot get directly to the operator at the local peak are queued. This happens less and less, but is typical, for example, for the new year. Even in times of increased load, we try not to “slow down” the client for more than a minute, this is fraught with a loss of call. By the way, for this new year, all those who are not critical for the current processes of the company take the shift - this is a guide (if everything is prepared in advance, then you just have to watch at the peak - so why not get down to business and not answer calls, or stand in stores?). In addition, direct contact with customers is one of the important requirements. Only bookkeeping may not leave your office - the rest must be at least sometimes at the forefront.

    In creating the schedule, our own statistics are obtained, obtained from the piece of iron through which all calls go: how many calls, how long the average contact lasts, how outgoing work. Each phone is authorized, so you can do details on the operators: for example, if you see a big difference in the total talk time for a particular person, the shift supervisor looks at exactly what he does. Now we are switching to authorization not by devices, but by users, which will allow us to accurately monitor all parameters.

    The walls act as a corporate blog - they contain the most important data such as phones of neighboring departments, news (“A new gift wrapping has appeared”) and other things.

    Places in the call center are not assigned to the operators, but in normal seating arrangements, everyone takes their “relatives”, usually decorated with different stickers, toys. Often around the places are some kind of store puzzles such as labyrinth balls, different notebooks with pictures, and so on.

    In a situation of increased load, the call center also occupies the places of neighboring departments - we are preparing for such peaks in advance, for example - in November we are already increasing the area of ​​the department for December sales.

    We use an answering machine at night when no one is working. By the way, a funny incident happened to him on January 1 - he was misconfigured, and at 4 nights he told the client “you are first in line” instead of the usual phrases. The client recorded an appeal to specialists, wondered at the length of the line, managed to drink two more, grumbled a bit, raised a toast with friends and sang a song.

    Call center operators also deal with answers to questions via ICQ, Skype, mail and other channels. They do not deal with social networks, these are the tasks of the site team, which, by the way, is right next to you so that you can always ask a tricky question on goods.

    In their free time (“quiet” hours), operators play new games and read books from the library .

    When the operator makes a jamb, he must fix it. For example, if the delivery is scheduled for the evening so that the courier simply cannot physically be there on time (although the operator evaluates the situation before calling the customer), he goes to deliver the goods after the shift himself. One such case in two months creates many legends that, on the one hand, increase attentiveness, and on the other, make it clear that, in principle, it is not so scary to make a mistake, there will always be a salary.

    Repeated calls to the same customer are rarely made, but are sometimes needed (for example, statuses of a complex order). If possible, they are made by the same operator.

    Coordination of orders goes through our databases and cloud applications that help to understand who processes what.

    Couriers arriving at the client do not enter the call center and call themselves: before leaving and an hour before knocking on the door. The call before leaving, in particular, leaves the client with a telephone number where you can negotiate with the courier in case of force majeure.

    Very rarely, customers turn to a call center for couriers. Over the past six months, operators clearly recall one case: on December 29, the courier of an external logistics company personally made more than 50 orders for two shifts in a row, drove to the last customer and fell asleep in his chair. A customer called us to ask how to get rid of the body.

    Efficiency mark

    The most commercially efficient operators are the most efficient. They usually spend a lot of time on a call, give good recommendations and help you make the right choice. Another important function - operators insure against the wrong goods. I know only a couple of other stores where they can say “don’t take this thing, it won’t suit you” - it’s important not to sell something, but to leave a person happy. Strange as it may seem for Russia, but the desire to sell seems to be less, but rather, on the whole, leads to an increase in the average check: the client understands that something is not being “cheated” on him.

    Any negative feedback is handled in two ways: on the one hand, the client is helped to solve the situation, on the other, it is calculated inside what happened and why. If this is a model flaw, it is put in a ticket for other related units, if the cant is human, the senior receives the data. The head of the call center looks at non-standard situations and statistics: based on this, decisions are made that we need to leave someone, for example. On the other hand, customers often leave positive feedback about specific people - this is an occasion for bonuses or other non-profit buns such as a more flexible schedule.

    This system has a flip side: when rummaged geeks (such less than a percent) call through, the operator tries to dissuade them from complex games, recommending hits. This is wrong, because geeks know exactly what they need. With the next version of the software, we will be able to keep the history of the client, in particular, to mark those who are well versed in the assortment. The second reason to lead a story is to know the age of the child, if the games are for him: with age, preferences change, and it is possible to formulate more accurate recommendations.

    How to choose an operator?

    As a seller: a sociable positive person with a desire to bring joy to the world. The only thing for the call center is still important voice and need the right speech. The person who says “RING” does not have a chance to get to us, despite other advantages.

    There are no particular preferences by gender: girls can better advise and recommend (almost all girls are born sellers, they do not need to be taught). Guys are generally more specific and can give more accurate recommendations. In general, the effect is approximately the same.

    Can I call and order pizza?

    When it comes to service, many recall the Zappos shoe with their example about a pizza call - and tips from the seller on how to find a pizzeria. We are implementing this approach at home, but right now it is unlikely to succeed. After 3-4 months - most likely, yes.

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