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What are the Different Types of Contact Centers?

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Can’t decide which of the different types of contact centers is right for your business communication needs? Here we highlight 7 types of call centers to help you understand which is ideal for your purposes.

Understanding the 7 Types of Contact Centers

There are a few different types of contact centers that exist with different focuses and purposes. This ranges from centers that have it all or centers that focus on incoming or outgoing calls, those that use specific virtual call center software to centers offering multichannel communication options, and so on. You can also outsource your communication needs to some centers. On the other hand, other types of call center software can give your business access to contact center tools to use in-house.

However, which type of call center or call center software that will work for you depends on your specific needs. So, let’s look at the 7 types of contact centers:

  • Call centers
  • Contact centers
  • Inbound centers
  • Outbound centers
  • On-premise centers
  • Cloud-based or virtual centers
  • Multichannel or omnichannel centers

Let’s look at each of these types of contact centers individually.

1. Call Centers

The terms call center and contact center are often used interchangeably; however, there are a few differences between them. A call center, for instance, is a centralized center where reps answer incoming calls from potential and current customers of various businesses. Some call centers handle only incoming or outgoing calls while others handle both, also called ‘blended’ centers. Additionally, a business can have an in-house or on-premise call center or they can outsource their needs to a company specializing in call center services.

2. Contact Centers

Contact centers are similar to call centers except that they are more multichannel or omnichannel. This means that along with receiving calls, these centers also offer email, SMS, live chat, and social media communication channels. Call centers usually stick to phone conversations only while contact centers offer more channels and modes of contact.

3. Inbound Centers

Inbound contact centers focus primarily on incoming calls. This means that they have trained agents and reps to answer calls and provide sales or customer support services. Most inbound contact centers are generally customer service-oriented. Customers generally call a business for a few reasons:

  1. To inquire about a product or service
  2. To ask for technical support
  3. To receive assistance with a purchased product or service

Usually, an IVR system answers the call and interacts with the caller by offering menu options. Then, it proceeds to help the caller via pre-recorded messages or by transferring the caller to the right department.

The goal of inbound centers is to handle customer calls and concerns quickly and efficiently. This means answering and resolving calls professionally. This helps retain more customers by increasing customer satisfaction.

4. Outbound Centers

Outbound contact centers do the opposite of inbound centers. That is, they focus primarily on outgoing calls and lead generation. These contact centers call lists of potential clients or leads in an attempt to make new sales. Outbound centers use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to keep track of contacts, leads, and calls. Some outbound centers offer additional outbound calling services such as fundraising, collecting customer feedback and surveys, outreach efforts, and more.

5. On-premise Centers

Many types of contact centers work on-premise or in-house. This means that the call center works within your office and all the hardware and software are operated and managed by your in-house IT team.

On-premise centers are known for their high level of data security and therefore tend to be more reliable and have better call quality. Additionally, you will have total control over your communication system and you can use it according to your needs. However, running your contact center on-premise means that your business will be in charge of purchasing and maintaining hardware, hiring a highly-skilled IT team, and paying other upgrade costs. All of this can lead to higher costs for your business.

And so when deciding whether you need an on-premise center, consider this: do you have the budget, infrastructure, and IT team to handle the system in-house?

6. Cloud-Based or Virtual Call Centers

Virtual call centers are an alternative to on-premise centers. They work virtually and are hosted by your provider. In other words, your provider runs and manages your call center software while you simply use the service.

A cloud-based contact center gives you less control. However, your business is not responsible for any hardware or maintenance costs, which can save substantially on expenses. Your teams can access the software from any location or device as long as they have a good internet connection. Most businesses that manage remote teams use virtual call center software to provide their teams with the right tools needed for excellent customer service.

7. Multichannel or Omnichannel Centers

Multichannel and omnichannel centers are one of the most effective types of contact centers that offer not just voice but other communication channels as well. This includes video, email, SMS, live chat, and social media engagement. One thing to note is that multichannel centers may not offer all communication channels while omnichannel centers do.

Having multichannel support can help your business reach more customers across different channels. Interested customers who do not prefer phone conversations can use other means to connect with your business, which helps you increase your customer base.

Choosing the Right Call Center Software for Your Business

Businesses of every type can use call center or contact center software to improve the way they interact with their customers. You can enhance caller experience, increase customer satisfaction, and in turn, improve your business’ overall sales. Reach out to us today to learn more!

6 Ways to Analyze Your Call Center Data

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Want to analyze your call center data to improve agent performance and customer service? There are a few different ways to analyze call center data. In this post, we will outline 6 ways to gather valuable data about the functioning of your contact center so that you can determine ways to improve performance.

Analyze Your Call Center Data: 6 Methods

Tracking and call center analytics continues to be important as contact centers can use these insights to offer better service, find valuable leads, and increase sales. And once your company has this information, you can identify areas of strength and weakness and then improve your service and increase customer satisfaction. Here are some useful and practical ways to track and collect call center data:

1. Watch Your Call Detail Records

Call detail records list down all incoming and outgoing business calls. This means that you can get insights into how many calls your business makes and receives per day. You can identify patterns such as what days in the week or times of the day your business receives the most calls. This information can help your call center prepare for high call traffic periods by having more agents on call during those times.

Additionally, you can use call tracking to identify where your calls are coming from. For example, you can assign different local numbers for different geographical regions or advertising channels. And as calls come into specific numbers, you will be able to determine which location or marketing channel this customer came through. This information will help improve marketing efforts in areas responding well to your services.

2. Track Call Center KPIs

The best way to see how your call center is doing is by tracking significant call center KPIs or key performance indicators. Tracking and studying these KPIs should be the focus of your business as they can help you maintain good and desirable performance. Six of the most popular contact center KPIs include:

1. First Call Resolution: Measures how often a caller’s query is resolved on the first call itself. This means, no follow-up calls or emails were required.

2. Average Time in Queue: Measures the time callers wait in the queue before being helped by an agent. This KPIs gives you a good idea of how quickly and efficiently your agents are responding to customer calls. If your business offers live chat, email, or social media engagement, then you can even track the response time for these channels.

3. Average Handle Time: Measures the average time spent on handling a call (including talk and hold time). A delicate balance must be struck between keeping low handle times and effective customer service. If you try to cut down on the average handle time, you may negatively affect the quality of customer service.

4. Average Abandonment Rate: Measures how often customers leave or abandon a call. Customers may abandon calls if they have been waiting for too long or are frustrated with your IVR system. Short wait time and easy-to-navigate IVR systems can help reduce the average abandonment rate.

5. Customer Satisfaction or CSAT scores: Tracks how satisfied your customers are with your company and service. Use surveys, feedback portals, and forums to gather CSAT scores.

6. Response Time: Measures the percentage of calls answered during a certain period. This helps your call center team understand the goals and standards set so they can work towards them.

7. Agent Absenteeism: Measures the amount of time agents are not at their desks answering calls. Productivity can be impacted by missing agents and therefore, it is important to identify this issue and take positive actions towards resolving it.

8. Agent Turnover Rate: Measures call center attrition and turnover rates so that you can identify reasons why agents leave and how to make them stay.

3. Study Customer Preferences

It’s no secret: good customer service leads to good sales. In order to offer better customer service, you need to understand your customers and their preferences. This is where it is important to listen to what your customers need, pay attention to and understand their emotions, study their preferences, and so on.

Likewise, adopt and empathetic active listening, ask for their opinion, and offer service that complements their preferences and expectations. For instance, some customers may prefer email or live chat over phone conversations. Having email and live chat as alternative communication methods can help satisfy these customers.

4. Make Quality Assurance a Priority

Quality assurance (QA) is the process of offering good, effective, and high-quality customer service. Call center QA is often achieved by:

  • Training agents to offer high-quality service
  • Listening in on calls — also called call monitoring — to offer agents feedback and help as needed
  • Reviewing recorded calls to train agents on appropriate and inappropriate behaviors
  • Studying customer preferences

By conducting call center QA, you are not only monitoring agent performance and employee-customer interactions but also improving your overall client relations.

5. Key into EX Metrics

EX refers to employee experience and this is one of the call center analytics that does not get talked about enough. While businesses focus on improving the experience for customers, not many focus efforts on creating a good and healthy work environment for employees. EX metrics are important to measure since low EX rates can lead to more attrition and agent turnover, which in turn will cost your company more.

Some ways to improve EX and reduce turnover rates include:

  • Training new agents and offering refresher training for current agents on a regular basis
  • Equipping employees and agents with the right call center tools to do their jobs effectively
  • Making sure management is approachable
  • Offering incentives for good and successful results
  • Helping employees maintain a good work-life balance
  • Keeping remote working as an option
  • Asking for feedback from employees

6. Collect Customer Feedback through Surveys

Lastly, another piece of call center data is collecting customer feedback. Feedback can help you identify how customers view your service and what they need from you. And you can use this information to make your service better and improve customer satisfaction.

Use Call Analytics to Reach More Customers

Call analytics and virtual call center software can help your business attract new customers across the world as well as increase the retention of current customers. Set high standards and track metrics to ensure your teams maintain those standards, and watch your business grow locally and internationally.

6 Useful Ways to Reduce Abandoned Calls in Your Call Center

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Is your call center not performing well in terms of customer satisfaction? Then you may need to rethink how customers interact with your call center and how many customers give up and abandon their calls. Here we will look at 6 practical methods to reduce abandoned calls and increase customer satisfaction.

What are Abandoned Calls?

Call abandonment or abandoned calls refer to callers that hang up before receiving service or dropped calls. Calculating your call center’s abandoned call rate—an important call center KPI—can help you identify areas that need improvement. Callers that abandon their calls may do so because it is taking too long for them to receive support or to get a human being on the phone. A high call abandonment rate leads to low customer satisfaction. So, what can you do to provide better customer service?

Here are 6 useful ways to reduce abandoned calls in your call center.

1. Invest in a Cloud IVR System

An IVR is an automated phone system that assists a call center in managing incoming calls. The IVR interacts with callers, identifies the reason behind the call, and proceeds to help either via:

  • Pre-recorded messages
  • Transferring the caller to the right department
  • Or sending the call to voicemail

In some cases, the IVR may even assist the caller in performing predetermined actions such as:

  • Activating an account,
  • Processing payments,
  • Providing common troubleshooting help,
  • Submitting a trouble ticket, etc.

A well-designed IVR phone system will effectively determine the purpose of the caller and assist them. This way, it can cut down the number of calls that need an agent for support. And if the IVR can’t help the customer, it can quickly forward the call to an agent. This is a good way to reduce abandoned calls.

Related: Interactive Voice Response: Definition and Benefits

2. Try Different Call Forwarding and Routing Options

Next, try different call routing options so calls go to the right agent or department and less time is spent transferring or keeping callers on hold. Some common call forwarding and routing strategies include:

  • Time of day routing — route calls to specific numbers or lines during set times of the day.
  • Select country routing — route calls to specific lines based on where the caller is calling from.
  • Direct routing — callers select their preference of the menu provided by your cloud IVR.
  • Data-direct routing — route calls to the right agent based on the caller’s data and history.
  • Least-occupied routing — route calls to agents who have answered the least number of calls.
  • Simultaneous ringing — incoming calls ring multiple phones or lines so no call goes unanswered.
  • Failover forwarding — incoming calls are sent to the next agent in line if the first agent is unavailable.

Different routing strategies can help your call center balance incoming calls and distribute them evenly. You can even have calls made over the weekend or during off-hours forwarded to remote agents. This way, there’s always someone available to answer calls.

3. Prepare a Knowledge Base for Online Support

With everything being easily available over the internet, most customers will first try to solve an issue by themselves before they call a company. For this purpose, having an online Knowledge Base or Support section that provides assistance and troubleshooting for common issues can be a blessing.

Web visitors will first try to resolve their concerns via looking up your Support, FAQs, or Knowledge Base tools. If they are still unable to fix the problem, they can then choose to email or call your company. However, users that are able to fix the problem will not need to make the call, thereby reducing the number of calls in a queue and reducing abandoned calls.

4. Offer Multichannel Support

Another way to reduce abandoned calls is to offer other mediums of support. The Knowledge Base is one such tool. However, other communication channels include live chat, ticket tracking software, email, SMS, etc.

5. Train Your Agents for Common Issues and Large Call Volumes

Irrespective of how well you distribute your calls, if your representatives are not trained well and unable to perform under pressure, then your efforts are in vain. Take time out to ensure that call center agents get the training they need to succeed. Have refresher courses, webinars, and workshops on the regular to reinforce good habits. Furthermore, provide them insightful resources and incentives that can help them do their job well even during high volume periods such as holidays. You may even run a rewards program as well as provide quick and easy access to troubleshooting documents and so on.

6. Schedule Agents Based on Call Traffic

Lastly, study your call logs to see when and where most of your calls come in and schedule agents to tackle high-traffic periods. This way, your team is prepared to deal with the load of incoming calls while offering quick service. Plus, having more agents available during these times will help distribute calls better.

How Can United World Telecom Help?

We offer a variety of virtual communication tools specifically designed for call management. You can rely on our call forwarding options, cloud IVR systems, and rest assured that incoming calls reach the right agents on time. Improve your customer service today by signing up for our service. To learn more, call us or chat with one of our experts today!

5 Innovative Ways for a Call Center to Use Interactive Voice Response

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Does your call center business use IVR to communicate with customers? A well-designed system offers incredible versatility, which can help your business in a variety of ways. Check out these five innovative ways for call centers to use interactive voice response technology.

How Can IVR Be Used in a Call Center?

Most inbound call centers use IVR systems to provide callers with pre-recorded greeting messages and sets of menu options. Menu options will often be for self-service, sales, and customer support. Callers provide input to a call center IVR system by pressing a key.

After gathering caller inputs, the IVR can help your call center route inbound callers to the right agent or department.

So, what are some ways to get the most out of your IVR system?

1. Skills-Based Routing

It is important to choose the right routing strategy for your contact center.

Effective call routing can boost first call resolution rates as customers are able to speak to the right agents right away. IVR can also help call centers automatically route inbound callers to the right department in less than twenty seconds.

The most effective IVR routing strategies are often based on:

  • Agents’ skills such as language preferences or experience.
  • The origination of the inbound call.
  • The time the call is coming through.
  • Equal distribution of calls among a group of agents, and more.

These are real strategies that call centers have used over the years. We have helped businesses implement such strategies to improve efficiency.

2. Create Personalized Messages

A customized greeting and menu options provide a great branding opportunity. Studies show that callers are more comfortable when they hear a welcoming greeting message. IVR can be used to personalize your entire caller experience.

The best technique is to welcome callers with a customized greeting message and pre-recorded menu options. These should have relevant information about your business to help callers easily navigate menu options.

3. Provide Self-Service and After-Hours Support

IVR can be used to offer after-hours customer support by adding information about your company, its product and services, and upcoming promotions.

You can forward incoming calls after-hours or during the weekend to remote offices, agents, or voicemail. You can even have the IVR assist callers in completing certain tasks such as making a payment or scheduling an appointment.

4. Call Center Agent Automation

Automation will certainly boost call center productivity. Luckily, artificial intelligence offers a simple way to automate complex business tasks. This will help your business gain greater performance abilities and utilize the talents of your team more effectively.

A contact center IVR operates right along these lines. The main point of having IVR is so your business can speed up processes. Some of the automation advantages it offers include:

  • Verification and service activation
  • Payment and renewal processes
  • Providing product information
  • Troubleshooting services
  • Providing answers to frequently asked questions, and so on.

If the IVR can help customers with these tasks, then they are less likely going to need to speak with an agent. This leaves trained representatives with more time to handle more high-value customers.

5. Manage Calls During High-Traffic Periods

By adopting the right strategy that helps organize your calls, your team can effectively handle calls during high-traffic periods. By automating services, most calls can be handled by the IVR system alone, giving your agents and reps more breathing space during such periods.

Learn More About IVR

United World Telecom offers a highly customizable IVR system with tips to help your business leverage its voice communications. To learn more about interactive voice response, please contact us today!

Inbound Sales Calls vs. Outbound Sales Calls

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Trying to identify the best ways to increase sales for your business? There are a few different approaches you can take: inbound sales calls, outbound sales calls, or a combination of both. Let’s look at how each approach works and what you should keep in mind.

Inbound Sales Calls vs Outbound Sales Calls

Before we move into specifics, it is important to understand the basics of sales calls. These calls generally revolve around generating leads and sales. They include either contacting a set list of prospects to increase brand awareness and make sales. Or, running a strong customer service and support team that answers incoming calls, resolves queries and concerns, and sells new products and services. Depending on the type of business you run, you may benefit from inbound sales or outbound sales calls, or both.

Inbound Sales Calls

There are typically two types of inbound sales calls. The first type refers to “hot calling” which is basically customers calling your business to resolve a query or initiate a purchasing process. The customer may have interacted with your website or seen a promotion on social media that piqued their interest. Now, you have managed to get their attention and interest. But it is on the inbound sales call where you convert this interest into a sale.

The second type of inbound sales call refers to “warm-calling” where you call customers who have interacted with your business. Maybe they signed up for a newsletter or emailed you a query or downloaded a PDF through your website, etc. This customer could also be a past or recurring customer who you are following up with. They made the first contact and now it is up to you to give them a reason to make a purchase and become a returning customer.

Outbound Sales Calls

Outbound sales calls refer to cold calls made to a predetermined list of prospects. This list is usually put together through market research and buyer persona reviews. Then, your sales team calls these individuals, informs them of your company’s products and services, current promotions, and sells to them. Some companies outsource their outbound sales calls to virtual call centers.

More recently, businesses subscribe to an outbound calling service to call local and international individuals in a less expensive way. An outbound calling service lets you make calls through the internet instead of traditional phone lines. And you have the opportunity to customize your caller ID to display specific local or toll free numbers instead.

Which Can Benefit Your Business?

This depends on the type of business you run and what you want your calls to do. For example, do you want customers to reach you when they are ready? Can your marketing efforts support an inbound sales call strategy? Is lead generation the focus of your company? Do you want to use customer service and success to make more sales?

However, you do not have to choose one over the other. With a strong customer support and service team, you can have outbound and inbound sales calls working together. This way, you target prospects based on marketing results as well as engage with interested customers who reach out to you. Having the right communication tools can help you maximize your company’s visibility as well as generate more leads.

United World Telecom Can Help

United World Telecom offers virtual communication tools for businesses of every size and in every industry. Whether your calls are focused on outbound or inbound sales, our features and services can enhance the way your business interacts with its customers. To learn more about what we offer, call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or talk to an expert.

How To Create a Call Center Business Plan

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Starting your own business can be an exciting but frightening endeavor. You know that you want to be your own boss, manage your schedule, and may even want to work from home. But you may feel challenged in choosing a successful way to write a business plan that allows for all this. Creating your own call center gives you the business opportunity to make money from any setting, whether home or office. And allows you to create your own schedule to manage your income how you see fit using various call center solutions. So, how does one get started on writing a business plan to open a call center? Additionally, what does one need to ensure success right off the bat?

Determining What Your Call Center will Do

Call centers are used by many industries for a number of things. Call centers can help to increase sales production, offer customer service, set appointments, provide debt collection, and more. Call center agents can pick up inbound calls or may make hundreds of cold calls a day. To best determine how to go about starting your new call center business, you’ll first need to decide what your center will do by determining what you’ll offer.

Considering the Number of Employees You’ll Need

Before opening a call center of your own, you’ll need to determine the number of agents needed to manage the business successfully. There are centers of all sizes, but you don’t want to begin with too many agents, as you’ll quickly drown in overhead. On the other hand, you don’t want to hire less agents than you need, as you’ll struggle to accommodate all of your client needs. Think about your customer needs, how many consumers you plan to help on a daily basis, and how long it takes to help one customer on average to best determine how many agents you may need.

Furthermore, consider employment numbers in the future. So, if you plan for your call center to grow substantially, make accommodations for this before the hiring process begins. You don’t want new employees getting to your workspace to find they don’t have desks or phone lines. So, if it’s in your business plan to add agents down the line, make sure that’s something you can afford and are prepared for.

Business plan for call centers
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Choosing an Office Space or Home

Whether or not you’ll be hiring agents who work from home or accommodating them with a business space is important when determining a call center business plan. For example, if most of your agents have offshore contracts, you may not need the office space you initially planned for. Choose your office space based on the number of employees you know you’ll need to work in-house. On the other hand, if you know you want to provide your employees with a place to work, make sure you consider the location. Opening an office near the company brand can help to promote brand fluidity and trust in employees. Furthermore, it’s obviously helpful to choose an office space that’s near more employees. A shorter commute makes things easier for all.

Determining Call Center Solutions

Call companies have their own needs as they provide specific services. So, one of the final things you’ll need to consider when determining your business plan is your solutions. Choose solutions which can best help provide for your consumers. For example, if you’re opening a call center business that provides customer service support for a third party, you might want to implement call recording. This allows you to record all company calls to determine if your customer service strategies are working. Another example is if your company is an outbound cold calling center, you may want to purchase virtual toll numbers. This allows consumers to answer calls for free and forward them to any type of line!

Closing: Help with Starting Your Call Center Business

United World Telecom offers a number of call center solutions which can help to take your business plan to the next level. If you want your new business to succeed, you can help prepare yourself for success with our top-rated phone features and virtual phone number solutions. To learn more about how we can equip your new call center business with the solutions you need, contact us today.

Authentication and Fraud Prevention in Call Centers

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The best way to combat authentication and fraud in call centers is to prevent it. Understanding is critical in the process of prevention. There isn’t just one way to prevent fraud in a call center; there are several ways that must all be used together in order to authenticate fully.

Authentication in a call center.
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Dirty Tactics Used in the Hunt for Authentication

A variety of things are being used to authenticate callers, such as an account number. A social security number is often an easy way for scammers to get valuable information from customers. You must be on high alert against any compromised data, and even then, these essential pieces of information are still vulnerable. This is primarily because companies usually ask for information to authenticate, like their customer’s mother’s maiden name or first childhood pet when people inevitably lose their passwords. Asking these personal-knowledge questions are also easy ways that scammers can get through to find out more account information.

There are many authentication approaches for companies, including Knowledge Based Authentication and Multi-Factor Authentication. Most call centers revert to Knowledge-Based Authentication, or KBA, as their main bases for identification. But KBA is one of the most vulnerable authentication methods to fraud. This method can be compromised very quickly by users with untraceable software or by cunning people who can trick others into providing information to them. The people who procure this information through these means can then use this information to call your customers or your customer service agents to commit fraud. Not only are these threats a reason to skip knowledge-based authentication, but it is also very frustrating and bothersome for your customers to be subjected to a series of questions before they are able to get to what they need from your site. Since it is not a foolproof way to prevent fraud, what else can a company use to guard their customers’ information?

Multi-factor Authentication VS Knowledge-Based Authentication

Multi-factor Authentication, or MFA, is a superior choice to KBA. The MFA uses an approach that provides each caller with their own one-of-a-kind identity token. This token is taken from your phone device and carrier information. Another way MFA is useful to companies is that it can understand the characteristics of certain sounds which can be translated into a voice print. By collecting all of this information, you can then enter it into a database. The computer then scans all the information to send fraudsters into a database that will then blacklist them from the company and customers’ data.

Using these tactics and tools, a call center will then be able to assess the risks through authentication. Then it will be up to the representative to use this useful data and decide whether or not it is a risk. Their decisions will be informed and based on several factors such as what kind of account it is and which transactions, and for how much, are taking place.

The top providers of authentication are TRUSTID and Pindrop. Each one uses an MFA method. Both have numerous important clients on board, such as banks, credit card companies, and insurance agencies. However, they can both offer solutions to companies in other markets such as retail, telecom, travel, or healthcare. These solutions also work best when paired with an IVR, which can automatically prompt the caller to enter their authentication.

These solutions to fraud and authentication have worked for very large call centers that employ hundreds of agents that work for millions of callers, but what can a smaller call center use? Small call centers can still benefit from these authentication strategies through Value Added Resellers. These VARs can bundle up different types of outbound calling services and sell them to call centers. That way, you can get what your call center needs on a scale that you can use to your benefit.

Fraudulent issues are becoming more commonplace in the market and companies need to be prepared for dangerous situations before they arise. Don’t let your company get caught unaware by scammers; use the top prevention methods in order to avoid putting your company in debt and frustrating your customers.