Everyone’s heard the horror stories:
- the call center who had a major data breach
- low quality call centers who hire agents that aren’t fluent in target languages
- declining service quality after outsourcing
- increasing outsourcing costs that make scaling or growing your team nearly impossible
At the end of the day, are call centers more trouble than they’re worth? That’s what we’re here to explore. In this article: six key reasons to avoid hiring a call center—and what you might do to overcome these challenges.
The Dreaded Language Barrier
The Problem: This is one of the biggest obstacles and common complaints of working with a call center, especially if you work with an offshore partner. Agents may not speak English fluently, or may have a strong accent that makes communication difficult and misunderstandings frequent. Obviously, this decreases the ease of your customer service and customer satisfaction. It can also cause internal issues with communication and collaboration.
How to Fix It: Thankfully, there’s a fairly simple fix to this problem: consider working with onshoring or nearshoring teams rather than outsourcing to distant, offshore teams. While onshore agents offer native fluency, even nearshore agents may have native or near-native fluency from growing up in close proximity to the US. As a result, language barriers decrease or are eliminated altogether, aiding in communication and improving service levels and customer experiences.
Losing the Personal Touch
The Problem: When you work with any kind of outsourced team, it can be difficult to integrate them with internal operations and provide a seamless experience for customers. With customer service, this only becomes more apparent.
In many cases, customers can easily spot the difference between an internal employee who’s well versed in the brand, policies, products and experience, and an external agent who’s just trying to answer basic service questions. Obviously, getting an outsourced agent who doesn’t really adhere to the brand’s personality, policies or internal knowledge is frustrating and reduces service levels—which is a key reason why many companies are nervous about outsourcing or using a call center.
How to Fix It: The key to avoiding this problem when outsourcing is to eliminate it from the beginning. Look for outsourcing partners who emphasize brand training and integration as a key element of their partnership with you. For example, at Global Response, our goal is not just to provide you with customer service agents, but to provide you with brand specialists who integrate seamlessly into your brand.
Our world-class employees receive the best-in-class training and coaching so they can eat, sleep, and breathe your brand. We selectively match our specialists to each brand so they embody your culture at every customer touchpoint.
The Problem: Adding on a call center creates yet another line item that must be budgeted and accounted for—and in today’s economy, that’s a difficult problem to get around.
Many companies believe that outsourcing will create sky-high costs for their customer service, or they’ve had negative experiences with outsourcing providers who nickel and dime them for every feature, function or conversation.
How to Fix It: Although this is a relevant concern, it’s actually a very easy one to fix—because there’s actually a number of ways that working with a call center can save you money compared to managing operations in-house. With in-house customer service, there’s dozens of overhead and operational costs, software and licensing fees, salaries and management and other costs, whereas with an outsourced team, you can actually save significantly on all of the above categories.
The key is finding the right call center partner. Nearshoring, offshoring or hybrid teams allow you the flexibility to hire employees in lower cost-of-living areas, pay for only what you need, and create flexible solutions that allow for more affordable pricing. While some call centers may run you a massive bill, this isn’t necessarily the case—and finding a flexible partner can actually save you money in both the long- and short-term.
Data Security Nightmares
The Problem: “We can’t outsource—our customer data is too sensitive!” Outsourcing has the reputation of being a risky endeavor. Not only are you outsourcing some of your operations, but you’re also outsourcing—at least in part—customer data, sensitive company information and internal processes and software. Offshoring carries the largest risk of data security nightmares. As many call centers overseas don’t legally have to comply with US data security or privacy laws, they may not—leaving your company at risk not only for breeches and data loss, but also legal issues.
How to Fix It: The solution here is to only work with trusted partners. Sounds obvious? Perhaps, but the cheaper prices of lower-quality solutions are often difficult to pass up. Or, it may not be immediately obvious that a given partner isn’t a quality solution. When you look for a call center provider, double-check from the beginning that they are certified and compliant with US-based data privacy and security laws, looking for things like PCI compliance, SOC-2 compliance and HIPAA (if relevant). A hybrid call center solution can also help mitigate data security risks, by allowing you to outsource only what’s necessary to reach your goals, while managing more sensitive data in-house with on-premise solutions.
The Ghost of Poor Quality Service
The Problem: Another one of the most common concerns around hiring a call center relates to quality service. In many people’s minds, a call center conjures up images—or memories—of speaking to a hardly-understandable agent working long hours in another country, providing the bare minimum service or worse, unequipped to really offer much service at all. Outsourcing also requires you to relinquish some control over day-to-day operations and workflows, which can also reduce service quality and key metrics.
Is the ease of using an outsourced call center worth the risk of losing the quality service that keeps your customers loyal to your brand? In most cases, probably not.
How to Fix It: The good news: not all outsourced call centers provide poor quality. Working with an established and reputable call center can not only match your current service levels, but even exceed them. Our teams at Global Response have done that for clients again and again, achieving results like:
- 130% increase in service performance
- improving speed of answer by 40%
- decreasing customer issues by 28%
Ready to perfect your CX?
When working with a call center, ensure that you create a quality assurance (QA) program that can monitor quality and KPIs for your call center team and ensure your service is improving and thriving. We monitor QA at both the individual agent level as well as across your call center as a whole to make sure we’re providing exceptional service and customer experiences at every touchpoint.
The Problem of Time Zone Differences
The Problem: As mentioned, many people imagine call centers with rows of agents working in cramped offices somewhere far away—often India or the Philippines. As a result, they imagine themselves having to work across incredibly disparate time zones, taking conference calls at 2am or having to wait days for responses to urgent emails. Not only do time zone differences cause issues for internal communication and agility, in some cases, it can also create issues for providing adequate customer coverage, depending on the time zone and the contracts at your call center provider. No one wants to hire a team that they then have to manage in the middle of the night, or can’t get in touch with in a timely manner!
How to Fix It: Thankfully, there are a lot of ways to fix this issue:
- you can hire a nearshore or onshore team to increase proximity and time zone overlap
- you can find ways to reap the benefits of time zone disparity through hybrid teams, employing some folks in a nearby time zone for most tasks, and then having an “after-hours” team in a far-away time zone to cover overnight shifts during their standard working hours
- you can establish best communication practices or work asynchronously from the start to avoid midnight meetings and collaboration
- you can work with outsourcing partners that are domestically-based with offices all over the world (like Global Response!) to take advantage of similar time zones in management
Nearshoring is one of the easiest solutions to this problem, as it offers a good balance of proximity and affordability, while still offering flexibility for overnight or after-hours coverage.
Overcoming the Fears: Choosing the Right Call Center for Your Business
As you can see, most of these problems aren’t intrinsic to call centers or unavoidable—they just require adequate preparation and clear vetting of call center partners in advance. So how do you find a call center that will benefit your business?
When vetting call centers, make sure you look for:
- testimonials or reviews from current or previous clients
- case studies or use cases demonstrating the ability to get results
- compliance certifications assuring you of security and quality
- experienced and well-trained agents
- expertise in customer service and customer experience
- best-in-class technology and omnichannel support
By thoroughly vetting your call center ahead of time, you can avoid partnerships that won’t be worth the hassle, and instead partner with a call center that can support your customer service and help you achieve your goals.
Case Studies: Companies That Overcame Their Fears and Thrived
At Global Response, we work with clients who have high-profile brands and a strong image and customer experience. With brands like these, outsourcing a call center can be a big risk.
For example, when we started working with Lacoste, they were looking for a customer engagement solution that would improve customer service and customer conversions, but would match their premium in-store experiences and luxury brand. Compromise wasn’t an option—that’s where Global Response came in.
We delivered initial and ongoing brand training to our call center team to provide dedicated, experienced brand specialists to the Lacoste account, providing them with a team that was ready to deliver top-notch customer service that stayed completely on-brand at every touchpoint. We also implemented state-of-the-art technology that helped drive innovation and improvement to service levels and customer experience, helping Lacoste expand their services, increase online conversions and customer retention and lower their overall costs.
While many of the fears on this list are completely valid, they don’t need to be your experience if you work with a call center.
Experienced, reputable call center teams, like the ones at Global Response, can provide you with experienced, on-brand teams who deliver quality experiences, cost-savings, and secure operations—all with a personalized touch for your customers.
Want to see how our call center teams can help supercharge your customer service efforts and meet your goals? Reach out to a Global Response expert today and see how we can help.
Call centers provide personalized service through a variety of means, including increased data collection and analysis, loyalty programs, targeted and relevant offers, upselling and cross-selling, omnichannel support and CRM data to understand customers better and more.
Good call centers should be compliant in the major US-based data compliance categories, especially PCI compliance, SOC-2 compliance and (if applicable) HIPAA. Most call centers will take additional measures beyond these to secure data, whether that’s using best-in-class cloud-based security or other solutions.
Call centers today typically place a high emphasis on service quality, and may implement Quality Assurance (QA) programs to monitor and improve quality regularly, provide ongoing training to agents, use remote staffing to hire the best talent from anywhere in the world, and develop specialized expertise among their teams to provide world-class service for your customers.
Outsourced call centers—particularly if you’re working with a nearshore or offshore team—take advantage of disparate time zones to manage round-the-clock customer support. Blended, or hybrid teams—with a mix of both domestic and international employees—can use the variety of time zones to schedule shifts that cover 24/7 support across their team. Additionally, some call centers may have certain agents who work overnight shifts to manage ongoing support for their clients.