a business owner discussing the ways they can maintain control of their business even though they outsource their customer service to a call center
Global Response Blog

How to Maintain Control When Outsourcing to a Call Center

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If you’ve ever had an outsourcing partnership go “off the rails”—or you’re afraid of that happening—then you might be wondering how to maintain more control when outsourcing. 

Control tends to be especially important when it comes to outsourced call centers. When you’re asking another team to manage customer communications, interactions with frustrated clients and more, maintaining some control is an important factor in a quality partnership. You likely want to have some control over: 

  • quality and quality assurance processes 
  • day-to-day operations 
  • procedures, processes and scripts 
  • customer communications and resolutions 

While a great outsourcing partner should have the expertise and experience to provide quality service and efficient processes without you having to make every decision, sometimes you may want or need to have more control over the processes to ensure quality. 

So how can you maintain control over your service and customer experiences when outsourcing to a call center? We’ll walk you through what to consider, how to shape the process to maintain control, and picking a call center that will allow you the control you need. 

Define Your Objectives and Expectations

Before the partnership even begins, start by defining your objectives and expectations of the outsourcing provider and the partnership as a whole. 

  • What do you hope to achieve by outsourcing? 
  • What are your goals for customer service and your call center more broadly? 
  • What are your expectations for service levels and quality? 
  • What are your key objectives for your outsourcing partner? 
  • How much control do you wish to have over day-to-day operations or various aspects of your partnership?

By clearly identifying the answers to these questions, you can more clearly communicate expectations to a provider and ensure they are able to meet them before you sign a contract. In addition, you can ensure that you’ll be able to have the level of control you’re looking for, stopping problems before they start. 

You should also establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals and objectives for evaluating your call center. Which KPIs are the most important to measure? In general, you should ensure you’re focusing on both internal (operational) metrics and external (experiential) metrics. Some key metrics for call centers to track include: 

  • CSAT and NPS 
  • Average Time in Queue 
  • First Contact Resolution (FCR) Rate
  • CRR (Customer Retention Rate) 
  • Speed of Answer 

However, your call center should focus on the KPIs that most closely align with your goals and objectives for both customer service and call center performance. You should also set expectations early for how KPIs will be tracked, measured and reported on. 

Choose the Right Call Center Partner

As you clarify your goals and expectations, you’ll want to choose a partner that can meet them, of course—but there’s so much more to consider when it comes choosing the right call center partner. When you’re researching, do your due diligence—don’t rush the process, and don’t simply choose the cheapest option you find.

Instead, be sure to understand how much control you’ll be able to maintain as you research potential providers. There’s a number of factors that will influence how much control you’re able to have, and therefore, the right partner for you. For example: 

Location. The closer your call center to your place of business, the more control you’ll be able to have (in general). Nearshoring, for example, offers much more control than offshoring, since the proximity means you’ll be able to travel to your call center more frequently, and similar time zones open up more opportunities for collaboration. 

Expertise and experience. More expertise within a call center means less control will be needed for quality assurance and service levels. When outsourcing, consider how much control you’ll need to have to maintain quality—and opt for a call center provider that can offer quality without as much control whenever possible. 

Reputation. Talk to current or past clients of your potential providers about both quality and results and communication. Look for strong results, yes, but also look for providers who offer clear, open and reliable communication. Easy and clear communication will give you much more control throughout the outsourcing partnership than a provider who is difficult to get in touch with. 

Workplace habits and culture. Some call centers make it easier to be involved than others—so pay attention to how your call center operates throughout the vetting process. Do they invite your feedback and keep communication lines open, or are they inflexible and unresponsive? Look for a provider who has a similar workplace culture to yours to make collaboration easier. 

Reporting. Understand how your potential call center providers will measure and deliver results. Staying on top of reporting, performance and results is an effective way to maintain control over your call center—but if this reporting is haphazard, inconsistent or ineffective, you won’t be able to monitor quality and improve. 

With any of these categories, keep in mind that—similar to a first date—providers during the vetting phase are trying to impress you. If something feels off during the vetting process, it’s likely not going to get better once you sign a contract. 

Develop a Detailed Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Once you’ve found a great call center partner, develop a detailed SLA to  define the scope of the work, deliverables, quality standards and expectations of the partnership. 

Remember: the more communication, the better. A detailed SLA helps you put expectations into writing and keeps both you and your call center provider accountable to your goals and objectives. In addition, a detailed SLA helps you maintain control by setting expectations early and having standards you can ensure are being adhered to. 

Managing quality starts from the beginning of your partnership. Within your SLA, be sure to include: 

  • a description of the services that should be included in the partnership 
  • any services that should be excluded from the partnership 
  • service performance—clear expectations for performance levels that need to be met
  • risk mitigation and security processes
  • service and performance tracking and reporting standards
  • stakeholders and roles—clear expectations for who is in charge of what tasks and responsibilities 

Creating a clear SLA from the outset not only ensures quality standards, but it helps to delineate roles of different stakeholders and create a guide that gives you control throughout the partnership. If you want to be in charge of getting customer issues resolved favorably, you can also include protocols for communication and issue resolution. 

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In short, when you have a vision for how you want things to be done and how you want certain processes handled, share them proactively and take a role in making it happen. Don’t assume that all call centers will share the same expectations in terms of quality or service level—communicate proactively and choose a call center that can meet your needs, while allowing you to be involved in the process.     

Implement Robust Communication Channels

As your partnership gets off the ground, implement robust communication channels to keep information, updates and reporting flowing both directions. 

Good communication is honest, clear, and regular. So be proactive and don’t wait for your call center to reach out to you. Instead, be involved and set up a regular cadence for feedback and updates in advance. Your communication should go both ways—your call center should provide you with results, updates, performance reporting and so on, and you should provide your call center with product updates, internal changes and other updates that may affect customers or should impact your call center policies. 

In addition, you’ll want to stay on top of any escalations and problems that occur, both so you can ensure they get resolved favorably for the customer and to make any relevant changes to your product or policies based on customer feedback. It’s a good idea to have one main contact for this to make communication and updates easier. When your call center knows who to contact about which updates, it makes communication faster and more efficient. 

Ultimately, communication is key for a good partnership that allows you to maintain control over your call center. If you’re finding communication difficult with your current provider, it may be time to look for a new call center. Our teams at Global Response act as an extension of your own team—serving as brand experts that deliver exceptional service for your customers, as well as delivering top-notch communication to your internal teams.  

Monitor and Evaluate Performance

To maintain control over quality and service levels, you’ll want to continually monitor and evaluate performance of your call center—from both individual agents as well as team performance. 

Your call center should track KPIs for you, but you should be proactive about monitoring and evaluating these results alongside your call center. If you defined KPIs within your objectives and SLA, this should be much easier. However, make sure your call center knows how to track these metrics accurately, and stay involved with the measurement and evaluation of these key metrics once things are up and running. 

In addition, consider running regular quality assurance and performance audits. Many contact center solutions don’t give you enough transparency to truly control quality. With Global Response, you get a fully-integrated QA solution that gives you visibility into key insights that can help you improve internal processes, make informed business decisions, track trends, drive business growth, increase operational efficiency and cut costs and more. Our robust metrics also serve as a key backbone for our continuous improvement process. 

Without the insight and visibility into key metrics and performance across your call center team, you won’t have the information you need to control quality, improve engagement and drive customer satisfaction—so make performance audits regular and comprehensive. Then, work together with call center leads to improve agent and team performance, as well as operational efficiency and service levels.

Maintain Oversight and Quality Control

Finally, don’t get siloed away from your call center just because you outsourced it—stay in touch with your customers and their experience. 

Aside from implementing quality control measures and processes, you should stay involved with customer communications and resolutions. For example, regularly reviewing call recordings, customer interactions and customer feedback is a great way to maintain quality control and oversight over your call center operations. 

As you monitor and review call center operations and communications, you can work with call center leaders to train and develop call center agents, improve scripts and processes, and provide a higher quality of service. 

Finding a Balance of Control & Quality

At the end of the day, you want to find a balance. 

After all, most companies outsource to reduce internal workloads and improve focus on core tasks and business initiatives. If you have to be involved in every single aspect of your outsourced call center to maintain quality, you’re probably not gaining much from outsourcing at all. On the other hand, you want to be involved with day-to-day operations and certainly with big-picture vision and service quality, so you need a call center who can work with the guidance you give them.

Ultimately, finding the right call center provider will make it easier for you to have a balance of both control and hands-off outsourcing. Your provider should offer the expertise to run a quality program without too much oversight, as well as the communication and collaboration to be involved and maintain control over quality. 

If you’re looking to outsource for the first time and don’t want to get burned, or want to move to a call center provider who can offer you expertise while still allowing you to maintain control over your call center, we’re here to help. 

With our teams at Global Response, you get access to 40+ years of experience within CX and customer service, allowing us to provide your customers with best-in-class service, while providing you with the communication, control and quality assurance you need. 

Ready to see how we can put your call center above the rest in your field? Connect with an expert from Global Response today.

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Best Customer Experience Solutions | Call Center Outsourcing