Call centers (Help Desk/Hot Line)

Introduction to call centers

The term Call center refers to a platform, either hosted by the company or outsourced, that is in charge of assisting users.

Call centers make it possible to assist clients within the scope of after-sales service (ASS), technical support, telesales or staff of anentreprise within the scope of the use of a tool or with their daily tasks. In the case of a call center dedicated to providing technicalsupport, the term Support center (in English Help Desk or Hot Line) is generally used.

Functioning of a call center

A call center is, first and foremost, a human organization in charge of responding to user questions. Most of the time, the privileged channel is the telephone, but assistance via the Internet through groupware applications is also possible. Certain devices feature a so-called "Web Call Back" (or "Call Through") tool, which allows the user to be called back by the company through simple capture of the phone number and clicking on the capture button.

At first, operators are responsible for identifying the parties on the line. Computer telephony integration (acronym CTI) are increasingly used to link the phone system of the enterprise to its information system and allow the operators automatic access to files regarding the clients based on the calling number.

As soon as the user has been identified and its identity verified through a number of questions (client number, address, phone number, etc), the operator opens an incident ticket and can access the record via the Help Desk software interface. The client record contains the history of the clients calls and all measures that have already been undertaken, to prevent diagnosis from scratch. Opening an incident tick starts a timer, and the operator must therefore provide the user with an answer within the shortest time possible.

To help with this task, a knowledge base, using the user's most frequently asked questions, allows the operator to ask "good questions", diagnose the problem and, as much as this is possible, find a solution. The term CBR (Case-Based Reasoning) is used to describe the process which makes it possible to find a solution through successive questions/answers.

Escalating mechanism

Whenever the first level of operators (called Front-Line) is unable to provide an answer to the inquirer, the record is forwarded to level 2 operators, who are more specialized and therefore more costly for the enterprise. The mechanism which involves forwarding the record to a higher level is called call escalation.

In rare cases where it is found that the problem depends on a third-party editor, the problem can be directly forwarded to the support center of the editor.

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