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In-House Call Center vs. Location-Based Calling

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Mitch Talenfeld

Over the last five years, we’ve managed multiple call centers and campus-based call operations, all with vastly diverse environments, call flow, SOPs and platforms. To cut to the chase, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. There tends to be more accountability and call quality with an in-house call center, as the numbers for individual campuses are too skewed for any definitive results. Essentially, a one-size-fits-all solution is somewhat of a paradox. There are many circumstances and environments where an in-house call center is the best option, and the same goes for location-based calling. For that reason, we decided to create a pro and con list for each operation approach in order to support a strategy that fits with your environment:

In-House Call Center – Pros:

  • Accountability:
    • Call center agents are solely responsible for all initial inbound and outbound calls
    • Call center manager(s) are directly answerable for the call quality and results of their team
  • Operations:
    • Facility to hire a team with specific strengths, rather than a broad range of skills
    • Cost savings: call center agents pay scale vs. experienced admissions representatives
  • Quality over Quantity:
    • One source for call quality and appointment sets, allowing for specified training and granular reporting
    • Experienced representatives at each campus are responsible for their skill sets: interviews and enrollments
  • Control over Confusion:
    • Complete transparency and centralized reporting for all calls
    • Clear objectives for call center staff and campus goals (i.e. call center appointment sets and campus enrollments/starts)
    • One source for call data integration with other systems

In-House Call Center – Cons:

  • Staffing and Inquiry Flow:
    • Overstaffing and costly for small schools groups
    • Frequent downtime if inquiry counts are low
  • Migration:
    • Strain of changing procedures from campus-based to call center operations
  • Unfriendly Competition:
    • Campuses vs. call centers and the fight over inquiries
    • High performing campuses may drop in numbers, while struggling campuses level out

Campus-Based Calling – Pros:

  • Location Results:
    • Granular accountability for specific campus results
  • Direct Management:
    • Fewer departments to control
    • Straightforward delegation
    • Practical implementations
  • Smaller Operations:
    • With few campuses and/or low inquiry flow, campus-based calling is usually the right fit
  • “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”:
    • If campus-based calling is working well, then it’s optimization over reorganization

Campus-Based Calling – Cons:

  • Too many hats:
    • Requires a one-size-fits-all admissions team
    • Inability to hire solely based on great phone/sales skills
    • Training is extensive (representatives and managers need to be trained on many different platforms)
  • Turnover:
    • Year-end numbers show higher turnover at campus locations as opposed to call centers
  • Implementation:
    • New SOPs face more challenges at each campus, as opposed to a single rollout at the call center
  • Availability:
    • Representatives at each campus have many responsibilities outside of making phone calls, so they are often not available when new inquires need to be contacted

In summary, if campus-based operations are not hitting target goals, there may be an additional solution with an in-house call center to alternative technology, representatives, directors or what’s worked in the past. The same can be said for struggling call centers with small inquiry flow, high overhead or declining numbers, as shown with the pro/con list above. In either scenario, challenging decisions will need to be made, and having all the facts is key.

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