Outsourcing a call center often raises many questions businesses must answer, including:
- Who is the best outsourcing contact center to partner with?
- Where will the outsourced call center team be located?
- How will an outsourced contact center partner protect my data?
- How much does outsourcing customer service cost?
These are all relevant concerns that need to be addressed. Outsourcing brings many benefits, including the delegation of costly and time-consuming efforts like hiring, training, quality assurance, and staffing, while creating the opportunity to focus your time on customer service strategy, insights, and the performance of your business.
When getting started, there are six factors to consider when outsourcing call center services: Location, Operations, Scalability, Service, Security, and Costs.
Each one of these individual aspects will be an important element of the decision-making process, but ultimately, they should add up to an intangible final element – the most important reason for choosing your partner – the right fit
1. Location: Where will your contact center be located?
One of the biggest misconceptions about outsourcing is that it is synonymous with off-shoring. This is not the case. Outsourcing your call center has several different opportunities that all bring cost-effectiveness and resource efficiency. There are three primary options when partnering with an external provider:
- Internal, or inside your own four walls.
- External, or hosted inside a building managed by your partner.
- Virtual, or utilizing “at-home” agents.
When choosing the best contact center for your business, consider which functions of managing a call center are most important to delegate and which you would like to be more involved in. If your company has available space and strong IT resources, you may consider hosting your external partner in your own location. If you’d like to remove the responsibility of human resources and building management while still guiding strategy and policy, consider an external location. Virtual options are best when weighing the need to plan for large staffing swings or less predictable business forecasts with stable agent retention and independent work.
2. Operations: What services does your contact center partner offer and how will you be involved?
One of the largest outsourcing benefits is the feeling of relief that your business is being handled by operational experts applying best practices. Talk to potential outsourced call center partners about the services they provide and investigate methodologies to ensure they align with your goals. You will be trusting your customers and business to this team, so make sure to research their perspective in areas such as interviewing, hiring, attendance, and attrition. Also, be sure to understand how you will be updated on your business through reporting and analysis. Areas to ask about are the following:
- Quality Assurance: Ask about the activities the contact center has put in place to ensure that the procedural requirements for a product or service are achieved.
- Call Center KPIs: The outsourced contact center partner should be able to explain how they calibrate performance through the monitoring and analysis of specific integral key performance indicators (KPI) and metrics.
- Dashboards: Receive examples of how the partner displays an overview of KPIs. A dashboard is a collection of statistics measuring performance aggregated for viewing to identify insights.
- Workforce Management: Meet with the outsourced contact center team responsible for this often-used discipline that analyzes historical information, future forecasts, channel volumes, average handle time, and schedules to determine optimal staffing for a given time period.
- Training Delivery: Collaborate on the method by which training is conducted for contact center Brand Specialists. Discuss your involvement in the creation of materials and whether there will be instructor-led classroom training or interactive online training.
3. Scalability: Can this outsourced contact center partner flex with your needs?
You are the expert on your business and you are looking for a partner that will immerse themselves in supporting you. Assess the ability of an outsourcing partner to grow with you. When considering the ability to scale, address the following:
- Flexibility: How will the outsourced contact center have the ability to expand and contract with your business need?
- Forecasting: Know your estimated monthly contact volume and ask the outsourced contact center partner how they will staff your business trends.
- Speed: How quickly will they be able to implement procedural updates and staffing plans?
4. Contact Center Services: Look for two types – service to your customer and service to you as the client.
Outsourcing partners will have a point of view on how to provide superior customer service. The ideal partner for you will be able to take the contact center services foundation they provide and customize it to your specific needs. Ask to speak with existing clients, listen to phone calls, and visit the operations floor. Make sure to understand if the contact center services incorporate both inbound and outbound options. While the primary job of your outsourced call center will be to handle customer contacts, there are other resources that should be available to you. Meet the implementation and support teams as part of the negotiation process to gain comfort and document the frequency of business reviews and onsite visits. Also, gain a level of comfort with the transparency you will have in your business. For example, will you be involved in contact calibrations, training, or staff promotion decisions?
5. Contact Center Data Security: Is your outsourced contact center partner prepared?
Protecting your customer’s data must be a top concern when choosing your outsourced contact center. It is important to understand the resiliency and diversity of the outsourced contact center’s IT enterprise infrastructure and the services they provide. Look for support from your internal IT and legal experts to craft questions for this highly specific and technical topic. Below are a few questions to help introduce the topic:
- Does the contact center conduct penetration tests of the company’s internal network?
- Does the outsourcer have disaster recovery and system redundancy plans?
- If applicable, does the company provide segmentation validation tests of the cardholder data environment (CDE)?
- How does the outsourced contact center provide redundant sources of network communications and computing services to internal and external resources?
6. Outsourcing Costs: The ROI on customer service is more than dollars and cents.
A good question to consider is “How much does outsourcing customer service cost?” An even better one is “How much does customer service really cost?” On the surface, a comparison of costs between outsourcing options and an in-house operation will be sufficient. As partnerships mature, much is learned about the underlying value and missed opportunities. It will be the challenge of the procurement and leadership teams to dig deeper and investigate the ROI of brand-right customer service and differentiators that provide you with a competitive advantage. It will not be difficult to see how better customer lifecycle, service, and lifetime value can provide an upside opportunity to turn a cost center into a profit center by creating customer relationships through omnichannel consistency.
By considering these several elements, you will be well on your way to choosing an outsourced contact center partner and finding the best fit for your team and brand. To learn more about how Global Response partners with the world’s top brands, please contact us.