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Organizing call centers for patient satisfaction

2 MIN. READ

Patient satisfaction is becoming a key metric for all health care organizations and providers. Not only is payment reimbursement from agencies like Medicaid tied to patient satisfaction, but patients can and will change providers or carriers if they are not happy.

Call centers can play an important role in increasing patient satisfaction. However, organizing call centers poorly can cause more frustration in a customer. Call centers are often organized by department or product line.

In a health insurance company, organizing call centers traditionally can create silos with separate phone numbers depending on coverage or the type of questions. Unfortunately, this structure leads to frustrated callers.

Ideally, call centers should be organized beginning with the customer perspective rather than the organizational structure.

Patient satisfaction

The purpose of using a call center for health care is to enhance patient satisfaction. Unfortunately, if a call center is not organized for ease of use by the patient, the goal of enhanced patient satisfaction falters, with patients hanging up in frustration. Frustrated patients lead to poor scoring, lower reimbursements and potential loss of patients.

Transferring between departments rarely leads to satisfaction. In fact, 63 percent of customers get frustrated if they are transferred multiple times. The longer a patient must wait to receive an actual person will affect satisfaction as well, as expectations have increased when it comes to answer speed.

Metrics like average wait time, transfers accepted, the average time to answer, and abandoned in queue all play a significant role in how successful a call center is performing for a health care organization. And if the call center is not performing well, you can guarantee patient satisfaction is taking a hit.

Organizing call centers for success

Organizing call centers with a cross-functional view of a patient’s needs by rising above organizational silos is one of the first keys for decreasing patient frustration. While trust can be lacking, especially in the case of providing medical information to patients, certain steps can be taken to ensure a call center performs well while giving a customer a great experience.

Thorough training to ensure no agent is on the floor unprepared to handle any request is key. Training should include how to handle calls in a respectful and empathetic manner, as patients who call in are different than retail or manufacturing consumers.

Also, opening the lines of communication with the provider or clinic is a necessary technological aspect. Doctors need to be informed about information given to their patients, and clinics need up-to-date information regarding appointment setting.

Continued support with a strong technological infrastructure will keep call wait times down and patients happy with their call center involvement. Use of IVR with natural language processing can handle easy questions, freeing up well-trained agents to answer and respond to more difficult and time-consuming issues.

Ultimately, organizing call centers with the customer experience priority will benefit health care organizations and providers. Clinical and administrative staff will be freed up to focus on in-person patients while physicians can expect satisfied patients.

A quality call center is necessary in a world with an increasing focus on patient satisfaction, and organizing call centers with the patient in mind – and not the organizational structure – will ensure pleased customers.

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Call Reduction: How to Leverage Technology

3 MIN. READ

Technology continues to push in the forefront as executives seek ways to achieve call reduction. Operational efficiencies and achieving reduced costs while maintaining customer satisfaction have become the top strategic goals for executives. In fact, 80 percent of executives surveyed stated that digital solutions are the most important strategic initiative over the next five years.

Health care, insurance companies, and other health care organizations are seeking operational efficiencies as well. Of customer care executives surveyed, 57 percent reported that call reduction was the top priority for the next five years. Trying to leverage technology, they are attempting call reduction by pushing individuals to the web for self-service information.

However, customers today expect immediate, personalized service. To increase efficiencies and decrease costs, customer care strategies need to include a combination of human and digital interactions.

Using technology for call reduction

Not all technology is created equal, and not all technology will help with call reduction. In fact, some call centers experience volume increases after rolling out a digital initiative. While roll-out and education play a part in the issue, the types of technology deployed can also influence how difficult customers find the experience.

The best technologies are designed for human interaction. Four technologies can be used in strategies for call reduction:

  • Dynamic speech-enabled IVR, especially powered by natural language processing, can provide a much more personalized experience.
  • Customer-centric web self-service with highly visible and relevant FAQs can minimize calls to your center, especially when the self-service is well marketed via messages when customers reach out to your call center.
  • Smart mobile self-service plays an increasingly important role as the smartphone becomes a prevalent part of everyone’s life. In fact, having a mobile app has become one of the most important aspects of customer satisfaction with 72 percent of consumers viewing a customer-friendly app as an important aspect of a company.
  • Building social customer communities where customers can answer other customers has become an increasingly important aspect of customer service. Not only can customers build brand loyalty via interaction with peers, but pressure on customer service agents is also relieved.

Why technology won’t solve everything

Unfortunately, digital initiatives that are pushed out without awareness of up and downstream activity will have the opposite effect. Instead of call reduction, call centers can experience an increase in call activity due to inefficiencies and a lack of communication. Digital initiatives will only produce call reduction if silos of operation communicate with each other to create efficiencies and streamline operations.

One of the pitfalls health care organizations can fall into is pushing hard on web self-service without accounting for their customer needs. For example, if most calls come while a customer is on their cell phone during a medical need, then they will find having to navigate a website will irritate them. Not only will they contact the call center, but they will also call more agitated and prepared to escalate.

Similarly, customers with more complex issues who encounter an IVR will become increasingly frustrated. The result is customers will hang up unsatisfied, which is counterproductive and can potentially lead to loss of customers.

At the end of the day, most providers want their call centers to enhance patient satisfaction. In order to do so, call centers need to leverage technology while reinforcing basic call center principles, which include low average wait time, a low average time to answer, and resolution on the first call.

Combining technology with key call-centric metrics can result in call reduction and increased efficiencies. However, executives need to make sure they are not expecting one digital solution to solve all problems, as different customers require varying levels of assistance.

Call centers will continue to be needed to handle more complex issues, but correctly leveraged technology can produce call reduction while increasing efficiencies.

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Contact Center Transformation Via The Cloud

Cloud computing has become a main digital transformation strategy for business, and contact centers are no different. Software, services, and storage via the internet have become a common conversation point in business. According to a recent report, the cloud-based contact center market is expected to grow from $6.47 billion in 2017 to $24.11 billion by 2023.

While the digital transformation began a few years ago, many companies are still wondering if the cloud is worth their time. Cloud communications can be particularly effective in the contact center market. Although there are challenges facing contact centers when approaching cloud-based services, the overwhelming benefits of using the cloud outweigh them.

The Role of the Cloud in a Contact Center

Contact centers are technologically heavy enterprises. They are dependent on telecommunications while requiring computers to record and process data. AI trends and interactive platforms have reduced the human element only to increase the technological need.

Legacy systems are designed to house the technological engine in a server room, storing data and running systems on-site near the employees. However, contact centers are evolving with the modern workforce. As the workforce becomes more effective and efficient, the technology should as well.

The cloud is one digital transformation that can create more efficiencies in how contact centers operate. Employees who work from home can use cloud computing as remote desktops, allowing contact centers to maximize a mobile, remote work trend. Similarly, cloud computing can be used as backup and storage, taking the burden away from in-house IT infrastructure. Not only will the cost of hardware decrease, but the capacity of IT staff will increase.

Most importantly, cloud computing allows a contact center to access its data for analytic purposes, increasing efficiencies throughout the organization.

benefits of using the cloud

The cloud is one digital transformation that can create more efficiencies in how contact centers operate.

Benefits of Using the Cloud

There are numerous benefits of using the cloud. One of the most important and overarching benefits of cloud-based contact centers is the customer experience.

Since cloud computing is based on a pay-per-use model, contact centers can scale easily and quickly based on client need. Instead of balancing when to scale up with the potential of a downturn, cloud computing allows adaptation of both up and down movement based entirely on demand.

Adding communication channels like messenger services is easily achieved without needless network administration and headache. Customers expect multiple ways to access agents, and cloud computing gives access and ability without bolting on new technology that often cannot interact with legacy systems.

In addition to scalability and technology, cloud services also manage cost control. The pay-per-use model ensures you do not contract for more than you need. Cloud computing agility allows you to deploy and improve services quickly and efficiently, without lag time.

Another important aspect for a contact center is data. Reporting and analytics offered by cloud computing can help you use the data you gather. Instead of collecting and storing customer information with no business benefit, the information can be processed to learn what is working, what is not working and ultimately how to benefit your customers more.

Challenges for Contact Centers Using the Cloud

Cloud choices can be overwhelming. Storage and server options available include private, public and hybrid. While private servers offer the most security, as infrastructure is dedicated solely to your company, the cost can be prohibitive. Public cloud storage provides cost benefits by sharing with multiple companies, but security can be riskier. Hybrid can be a functional compromise, offering the best of both options.

The most significant challenge for a contact center is that you are trusting your data to someone else. While the data technically belongs to you, as does the customer information, a third party is storing and securing the data. Access and security threats can become an issue. Ultimately, your contact center is responsible for customer data that is not under your control when stored via a remote cloud server.

Data is no longer contained within a self-sufficient network. Although secured and encrypted, data is exposed anytime it’s moving via the internet. Distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks can be particularly threatening since the server is remote and potentially shared with other clients. Though your contact center might not be the target, data is exposed when other companies are breached.

Costs involving scalability, development and hardware are more easily managed. However, there is one factor few contact centers consider when transitioning to the cloud. Cloud computing and storage requires all information to pass over the internet. Consumption of bandwidth is a significant obstacle, especially for backups and storage. All other activity can slow to a crawl anytime backups or information transfers are occurring.

Despite the challenges and loss of data control, positives of cloud storage and computing are far more beneficial for your contact center. Successful and profitable call centers will continue to maximize technological advancements, and the cloud is one advancement that cannot be avoided.

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What should your call center consulting plan look like

Opening any business is risky, and can be overwhelming if you have never done it before. Opening your call center can be tricky if you don’t know the ins and outs of the industry. Finding all the information you need is the trickiest part. Can you afford to miss any steps or components? A call center consultant can help you throughout the process and come up with a detailed game plan.

The purpose or goal of your call center

The first step to opening a new call center is to define its purpose: What’s your company’s focus and who will be your target market? Carefully answering these questions will enable you to offer the services your identified customers will need. Then you can begin the planning process. If you are expanding your company and opening a new call center, this is the time to reassess your business plan to ensure you are targeting the right clients. A call center consultant can help you identify current holes in the market and current unmet needs, and find a way to incorporate these into your business plan – in other words, create your call center consulting plan.

The number of employees needed

Never guess how many employees you will need. Instead, determine how many clients and billable hours you will need to be successful. This can best be done with the help of a business consultant. This process entails examining your overall budget. Once you know how much money you need to make, then you can accurately determine how many employees you need to hire. This process will keep you from both overhiring and underhiring.

Training for new hires and existing employees

This step will require you to think outside the box. Until your call center is complete and ready for you to move in, you will need to interview and train off-site. This will require juggling many moving pieces. The average call center takes six months to complete and open. The call center services you intend to offer will determine the amount and type of training you will need to host. Your call center consultant can help you to identify and meet these needs.

Logistics

Where you locate your call center is critical. Your location should be central to the majority of your employees. The easier you make it for people to get to work, the more likely they are to come – and be on time. Think of things such as ease of access to public transportation, access to main roads and places to eat lunch. Don’t skimp on parking! You will want to ensure there is enough parking for each employee at your call center.

Project implementation strategies

Every successful project needs an implementation strategy. Again, this is where your consultant will be able to help you. Call center consultants understand the need to develop a robust implementation design as well as a strong project outline. They will be your strongest asset because they have experience in managing large projects in several different settings.

Technology or software solutions that your call center will need

Technology is pivotal to running a thriving call center, and there are so many decisions to make. Once you know the scope of your services, you can create a list of the technology you will need to purchase. Some things to consider are what channels will your customers use, how will you manage the information you have, and how will you route your calls. All call centers need the following to be successful: agent desktop, call routing, predictive dialer, cloud solutions, workforce management and optimization software, call recording, headsets, multichannel communications, and customer relationship management systems.

Without these tools of the trade, your call center will falter. A consulting company can help you choose the right equipment for your call center.

Best practices to improve employee performance

Building your call center employee culture starts on day one – before you hire staff or complete your building. Corporate culture is created from the top down. Spend time early on to engage your management staff. Ensure that they are on the same page as your program design, are enthusiastic and ready to set the example for high-quality customer service. Setting the right tone and expectations early will lead to employees who are prepared to engage your customers and create a positive customer experience.

An overview of the customer’s journey

You want your customers to have a positive journey from beginning to end. Make sure you have enough adequately trained staff, as well as a top-notch management team. For an excellent customer journey, make sure each call is answered promptly and in a professional manner. From there, understanding what customers need and expertly meeting their needs will ensure a happy customer journey.

Call center building timeline

As with any project, completing a building and a remodel is time-consuming. On average, opening a call center takes a minimum of six months from start to become operable. Some companies have completed this task in as little as three months, but that does not leave room for surprises or challenges. A good plan is to give yourself two years: Take 18 months for planning, researching and hiring, and then six months for training before the grand opening.

Simple steps and proper planning will ensure a successful and prosperous call center.

These are some of the most important aspects to consider when building a call center consulting plan.

Let us help you with your call center consulting plan

Contact our team at Call Center Optimization Group. We can help you make informed decisions and find services best suited for your company needs.

Whether large or small, your contact center is the heartbeat of your company’s customer experience and a critical component to your brand.

Our company has over 50 years of extensive experience across many industry verticals. This experience enables us to quickly evaluate your company’s current capabilities and systems and develop a detailed plan and course of action to get your business and customer experience running optimally in record time.

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When In Doubt, consult: The Role of Call Center Consulting

Every organization faces the challenge of how to complete work and projects with the staff currently on hand. In many instances, organizations do not have the money to hire additional employees, or hiring a new person is not a sound decision when your team does not anticipate a long-term need for the position.

In such a conundrum, there is no easy answer. How can your organization create and maintain a lean budget that allows for growth and higher profits? The answer is simple: outsource. Rather than waste time and energy, look into contracting a call center consulting group.

These agencies are vetted, have highly trained staff and can provide references for previous work completed. Such a solution would allow you to hire additional staff as needed and maintain a positive employer brand.

Employees would appreciate the support and, in some opportunities, the consulting work may provide training for your permanent staff and increase the overall customer experience.

What Call Center Consulting Covers

The services provided are broad, ranging from support for a small office to expert solutions for Fortune 500 companies. At Call Center Optimization Group (CCOG), we can meet every need an organization may have. The overarching goal is to create a working partnership with each business that is unique to their needs.

We have a highly trained and diverse team of advisors who can easily identify and understand your requirements, creating a package to meet your business needs while remaining within budget.

A few key services include project management and implementation, performance improvement, training and development, workforce and capacity planning, and technology solutions. Instead of working late nights or increasing the overall workload of your staff, seek help from the experts.

The following services are requested often by organizations:

Performance improvement.

Improving employee performance is key to increasing overall profits. But how do you ensure the biggest bang for your buck and know you are hiring a quality trainer? The coaches and trainers at CCOG have hands-on experience as well as quality training.

The different teams within CCOG work together seamlessly, allowing for trainers and coaches to learn what is needed from the consultants who have worked with your staff. Imagine being able to afford customized training support.

Attrition reduction.

Employees sometimes can be the most unreliable resource in your organization. With the unpredictable human nature, illnesses, deaths or unplanned family needs, employees can be continually entering and exiting the workforce.

This revolving door of employees creates an unstable environment in which work is not completed consistently, or with consistent quality and results. By utilizing CCOG, our team of experts can work alongside your staff, learning their positions and cross-training, to cover the period team members are absent.

Maintaining a constant workflow will increase your revenue, profits, promote your brand and enhance the customer experience.

New project implementation.

Every organization faces the continual dilemma of adapting to the changing needs of its customers and remaining relevant or continuing to provide the same services. Implementing new projects requires additional staff, particularly a project manager. Turning to a call center consultant for temporary staffing solutions can work for your organization.

Process improvement.

Maintaining the highest quality services as well as keeping the current best practices can be challenging. For some organizations, you simply cannot afford to have one person dedicated to researching and identifying the improvements needed.

CCOG has staff dedicated to studying current best practices, reviewing your organization and identifying the needed improvements. CCOG can also provide the training required to implement the identified enhancements.

New call center site implementation.

Adding or starting a new business is overwhelming. No matter how well prepared or trained you are, situations and challenges will arise that call for additional staff or subject matter experts.

CCOG can sidestep these challenges by walking alongside you every step of the way. Imagine having a mentor to guide you through the process.

Training and development.

For any business to stay ahead of the curve, continuous staff training and development are necessary. Instead of looking for quality trainers who will take time to acclimate to your culture, you can work with trainers already familiar with industry standards and your business.

Technology solutions.

Technology is costly and difficult for organizations of any size to fund. Technology also depreciates quickly, becoming a liability. Working with a call center consulting company allows you to access the newest technology without straining your budget or investing in hardware that may be outdated in less than a year.

How call center consulting helps

If you have any doubts about the services a call center can provide, keep reading. Call centers provide the extra staff, knowledge, subject matter experts and technology all organizations need to be successful and profitable without adding additional financial burdens.

Setting industry standards. Working within any industry, you want an assurance that your organization is setting standards or keeping up with standard changes. Working with CCOG ensures you will stay on top of the trends in your industry.

Developing strategies and best practices. For an organization to stay current on best practices, it needs to develop and implement strategies. Trust our experts to integrate plans that will help your organization to grow.

Improving existing workflows. Maintaining a continuous workflow ensures an organization’s success and profits. If employee attrition becomes an issue, or if employees are not adequately trained or even recruited, your customers will notice, and your organization will lose business.

Working with a call center consultant ensures your business will grow in an uncertain market. Our experts can help you identify areas of growth and support you throughout the process without lessening your profits.

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How Data-Driven Decision Making Enhances Customer Experience

Our last blog covered tech trends in the call center industry that enabled outpacing your competition while also predicting your customer’s needs to remain competitive. With the rise of more advanced service delivery technologies, call center organization’s ability to remain competitive are directly related to their desire to embrace these new technologies, as well as their ability to effectively implement them into their organizations. 

One of the huge benefits of all of this technological advancement in the call center industry is the sheer amount of data we now have access to.  In this  “4-minute read” we would like to touch on Data Analytics. The ONE trend that steers the direction of our industry more than any other

As one of the leading consultants in the call center industry, Call Center Optimization Group is in a unique position to learn a great deal from the experiences of our clients,  their customer experience strategies, their challenges, pain points and much more.

Innumerable articles in the industry highlight the importance of data-driven decision making to address customer needs, as well as the great opportunity companies have, to leverage their agents to gather and use “ground level” data.

Agents in contact centers work on the front lines with customers in all industries, enabling them to accumulate invaluable insights into the customer experience journey.  Effective call center leaders do not just use the “normal” reporting tools available to them to gain insights into their business.  They also go “outside of the box” finding other ways to get the important data they need. 

“Out of the Box” Tools to Improve Your Customer Experience

Here are a few good examples of those “out of the box” tools you can use to gather the data you need to continually improve the performance of your operation.

First, digital marketing plays a key role in a successful customer experience strategy. One of the many ways to improve your customer experience with digital marketing is tracking social media buzz through hashtags. Establish hashtags that can relate to experiences with your company. This is an opportunity for companies to receive feedback in real time and address their customer concerns directly. #AwesomeCCOG

Second, use platforms that allow virtual conferences. They help us capture and record all customer calls, meetings, and any type of engagement. Call recordings and voice analytics have been around for a long time now. Video and interaction recorders are the latest. Many leaders use these recordings like a football coach would: to review, practice and game film with their teams, in order to improve long-term techniques, skills and team performance. Reviewing recordings of anything with a critical eye has proven for decades to be a powerful tool to drive improvement.

Third and last, but not least, is the old-fashioned, but highly effective, customer survey. The opportunity your contact center agents have to reach out to customers while on the phone for feedback is priceless. Adding a simple survey is a  great way to get immediate feedback from your customers about the interaction they just had with your organization. If you want to take it a step further, offer your customer a reward for delivering that feedback. Discounts or gift cards always get the job done. If your company gathers emails from clients, you can automate and add more interaction to this process of acquiring feedback from clients.

Call center leaders are creative, resourceful people.  Every day our team at “CCOG” see the partners at our clients pull important data and information on all aspects of their operations. From all kinds of “conventional” and “non-conventional” places.  Great call center leaders know the data is out there. You just have to go find it.

*This blog post is based on information from diverse authors, their articles, and research on the industry.

Let Us Help You Improve Customer Experience Strategy Through Data.

Call Center Optimization Group is at the forefront of these trends and many others in the call center industry. We have years of experience identifying, designing and implementing call center technologies that drive improved results and ROI for companies all over the world.

Join our many clients and partners as they leverage our team’s vast operations experience and technology network to optimize their contact center’s performance.

Find out how Call Center Optimization Group can help you today!

Contact Us:
1.888.650.5880
service@callcenterpower.com

 

 

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3 Call Center Technologies That Will Impact Your Business

As call center technologies get more and more sophisticated, customers have become more accustomed to highly enriched, intuitive and efficient interactions when they contact a customer service call center. As a call center service provider, your organization must be committed to staying at the forefront of the contact center technology race in order to remain competitive. With the increasing use of AI, Machine Learning, Improved Data Analytics, Cloud Strategies and more, your call center will be more capable than ever but it will take a lot of work to get there.

To help guide you and your team on the journey to take advantage of these transformational call center technologies, we want to quickly touch on 3 call center technology trends that will impact how your company services your customers.

 

Cloud Technologies are Here and They are Not Going Anywhere

In recent years, call center providers have learned a great deal about how to improve the service interactions they have with their customers. Call center providers have opened up whole new channels to communicate with their customers such as email, chat, SMS text, social media and more. Call center service providers are also increasingly using more and more data and analytics approaches to learn about what their customers want from them so they can improve service interactions, but also to proactively address customer needs BEFORE they contact their service organization. In order to unlock the potential of all of these technologies, service providers need to “get on the cloud”. Call center companies all over the world have heard the call on this. Worldwide call center are rapidly moving from premise-based ACD solutions and technologies to cloud-based services that offer the flexibility they need to morph their approach as the needs of their customers evolve. It is our strong belief that any call center provider that does not take full advantage of cloud technologies and all they have to offer, will ultimately lose the battle with their competition.

 

AI – The Rise of the Machines?

We began to hear rumblings of the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in call centers almost 10 years ago. The talk got louder and louder as IVRs and web-based applications became more and more intuitive. However, it did not really catch fire until very recently. Now, the capability of AI solutions are evolving at an exponential rate. Rapid improvements in voice recognition technology, data management, machine learning capabilities, and just sheer processing power have enabled AI “agents” to now completely process simple and even some more complex customer interactions, without any need for a human agent. Don’t believe it. Check out this Video of the Google Assistant actually processing a whole call. (https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/8/17332070/google-assistant-makes-phone-call-demo-duplex-io-2018) The AI voice even uses mannerisms and filler phrases that many humans would use in this type of interaction. The use of AI and Machine Learning technologies in the contact center space is only going to accelerate with time. As a call center service provider, if your organization can figure out how to leverage these technologies to their fullest, they will significantly improve your customer’s experience with your company as well as improve your bottom-line.

 

Intelligent Call Routing

The traditional approach of routing customer phone calls to available agents is a straightforward mix of skills-based routing and % allocation to maximize the productivity of every agent. As with everything else in the call center industry, things are changing. Capacity planning and call routing have become an extremely complex and data-driven activity. With advances in cloud telephony, analytics, AI and more, companies can now apply “predictive analytics” to every interaction before it reaches an agent. This allows organizations to maximize the monetary and non-monetary value of every call. Today, sales or direct response calls can be evaluated based on marketing channel as well as potential value and then get “intelligently” routed to specific call centers and agents that are best suited to handle that call. Also, more and more companies today are taking advantage “bulk call center routing” where companies have many outsource call center providers, or captive centers, on their systems and they route customer calls to the call center operations who are performing the best; in real time. This approach works well for business continuity but also ensures companies are maximizing the value of every interaction they are having with their customer. Also, all of this technology and servicing capability generates a massive amount of extremely valuable data that call centers and companies can use to add more value to their customers.

As you can see, the call center industry is in the midst of a “sea change” to the way it has traditionally conducted business. The demands of their customers, the rapid evolution of technology and the sheer pace of change today, make running a call center extremely challenging. The technologies mentioned above are not going away and will continue to push the envelope on how call centers all over the world will do business. Call centers are hard and knowing how to find and leverage the best technology for your call center is difficult. You don’t have to do it alone.

Call Center Optimization Group is at the forefront of these trends and so many others in the call center industry. We have years of experience identifying, designing and implementing call center technologies that drive improved results and ROI for companies all over the world.

Find out how Call Center Optimization Group can help you today!

Call Center Optimization Group. Real Solutions! Real Results!

Contact Us:
1.888.650.5880
service@callcenterpower.com