On today’s episode, we kick off a four part series on how to successfully launch and run a security dispatch center. We'll talk about when it's the right time to launch a call center rather than having supervisors in the field receiving direct calls.
You can think of receiving calls like the front lines of customer service. As your business grows you'll want to consider hiring employees who are trained and skilled in customer service. Let's jump in and look at how to begin assessing your current need.
If you want to make an informed decision about whether or not you need a security dispatch center, you’ve got to have the right data. That means tracking the number of calls you receive from customers or residents each night, the amount of time supervisors spend on the phone, and how reliably the requests from those calls are passed on to the right person and addressed.
Ensure that your current process is already optimal. If you don’t have a defined process, write one out as soon as possible. Launching a dispatch center can be costly, so sometimes it’s easier to just increase efficiency by tweaking your current process or utilizing new resources. Silvertrac’s security dispatch software system allows residents to report issues online and tracks phone calls to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. This also helps deflect some of the calls being placed by receiving the requests online.
Sometimes, though, the volume of calls will simply become too much, especially for supervisors whose training is not focused on handling customer phone calls.
“One apartment complex, that’s 500 units… times two people, that’s quite a few calls a month,” I tell Johnny.
Having an overworked supervisor trying to handle all these calls could end up with miscommunication on the phone, mistakes made in dispatching officers, and overall just an unprofessional image projected to the customer.
Can You Get The Right Quality With Outsourcing?
Customer service is extremely important. It’s one of the key differentiators for security companies and plays a big role in how effective you are at winning new contracts and retaining existing customers. You need to know if you’re going to outsource your customer service to a call center that they can deliver a high standard of service.
On the one hand, employees at a call center are trained to talk to customers on the phone, and they’re in an environment with the proper resources and equipment to effectively communicate. That can be a big advantage over officers or supervisors, which might be taking calls in the car, with noise all around and no way to access crucial information.
On the other hand, your own employees understand the business and the customers’ needs. You have to ensure that call center employees understand your operation and can address caller needs. To figure that out, you’ll want to know:
- Can they use your software (scheduling and reporting)?
- Are they going to be responsible for managing officers?
- Are they going to handle incidents reported by officers? (Being the liaison to the customer)?
- Can they handle call-offs, no-shows, and emergency scheduling?
- Can they communicate with the officers in the field? Do they need to be bilingual?
- Do they have video surveillance accounts they can monitor?
Costs of Outsourcing vs. In-House
The other option is to create your own in-house call center, with your own dedicated employees answering phones. Comparing the cost of outsourcing to going in-house can be difficult, as many call centers will quote you prices on a per call basis.
The best way to evaluate costs is to convert everything to an hourly price. That means knowing how many calls on average you’ll have to take, as well as assessing the costs of hiring new employees, training them, dealing with turnover, etc.
“Most of the time it’s going to be cheaper to outsource it,” says Johnny, “but… there’s a number of advantages to having it in house because we can boost their job description and requirements, which will help take some stuff off of your plate.”
So much more...
There is a lot that goes into running a dispatch center so we are going to spend the next three article talking about:
- Episode 42: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Security Dispatch Center
- Episode 43: The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing a Dispact Center
- Episode 44: How to Oursource Your Dispatch Center
- Episode 45: How to Launch an In-House Dispatch Center
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