Why Geography Still Matters in a Virtual Call Center World
June 06, 2012
By Allison Boccamazzo
, TMCnet Web Editor
Nowadays, it feels like we’re completely immersed in a virtual world – our heads just barely skimming the surface. While advancements in technology and communications continue to encompass our everyday lives, high speed Internet and communication tools such as text messaging, email, teleconferencing, video chat, and social media have made everything more accessible and brought everyone closer together than ever before. It seems sensible, then, to believe that geographical location is now null.
Yet, this isn’t the case.
So what’s the difference between a virtual and physical call center? From a technology standpoint, maintaining a virtual presence is certainly a good thing, as virtual telephony enables call distribution across various locations, thus enabling better and stronger business continuity. Additionally, cloud-based technology moderates hardware failure and keeps the most accurate information available on demand. For as advantageous as a virtual presence is, however, so is the physical location of the caller, as it provides vital information.
Efficient communication has seemingly shrunk the world into screens, and although more virtual than it was 20 years ago, geography still matters. Some examples include bank’s physical branches; cable companies providing service hardwired into homes, businesses, and even wireless phone and Internet carriers; insurance companies who continue to rely on extensive, local agent networks; and even Amazon – the world’s largest online retailer – who heavily relies on comprehensive, location-based delivery networks. Knowing this, where do you find a happy medium between the two, and where does the problem lie?
Many claim it begins with the fact that caller location is helpful, yet ignored. In other words, companies are often out of touch with the physical locations of their callers. Doesn’t this seem to be missing the point? Apparently not, as the primary focus in call centers has long been on metrics (i.e. average handle time, abandon rate, first-call resolution, and average speed of answer).
Despite call center personnel being educated every day on the new products and services they are to implement, it has remained true over time that location still – and most likely will – always matter. What can be done to maintain this position, though? Perhaps identifying callers’ residencies would be a good place to start. Some other helpful tips and tricks when prioritizing geographically are keeping the caller in mind when training staff, examining the caller base against a customer base, creating a caller “heat map,” (a.k.a. highlighting areas with a higher proportion of callers than customers), and providing internal sharing of information between operations, marketing, and product development.
Edited by Jamie Epstein