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How To Pick The Right Call Center Provider

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Choosing a call center provider is a difficult task—and it’s one that comes with a lot of responsibility. A call center can make or break your customer service, as well as significantly impact the reputation of your brand. Obviously, you can’t offload that role to the first call center you come across. But with so many factors to consider—and so many options available—how do you even begin to sort through what matters and what doesn’t? Our team has been in the business a long time (40+ years, to be exact!), so we’re here to give you the rundown on what you need to know, look for, consider and ask before choosing a call center provider. Here’s what to do—and what not to do—to find a call center provider that can offer you a long and successful partnership.

Understanding Call Center Providers

First things first: what exactly is a call center provider, and what should they be providing? There’s a lot of misconceptions around what call centers do and don’t provide, so here’s a few key things to know:
  • A call center is not an answering service. Answering services generally take and relay messages on your behalf, whereas a call center can perform more complex functions, such as managing customer service entirely, taking orders, answering FAQs and more.
  • Call centers should always make use of modern technology to make your communications processes more efficient.
  • Call centers may or may not handle other channels aside from voice calls.
  • Call centers may provide varying levels of strategy and support. That is, they may be a key strategic partner, or they might simply provide execution-level support.
That said, there’s different types of call center providers, and all of them focus on somewhat different things. If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick breakdown: Call centers. Traditional call centers offer support for inbound or outbound customer communications via voice calls. This can include things like telemarketing, surveying, appointment setting, customer service, technical support or other areas of service. Contact centers. Contact centers are more robust operations that support multi-channel or omnichannel solutions. Instead of just focusing on calls, they may offer customer service or support for email, chat, SMS, social media, or other channels. Inbound call centers. Inbound call centers focus specifically on inbound calls, and may not have the capacity or technology to manage outbound calling to customers. Inbound call centers are a great solution for overflow or after-hours customer support. Outbound call centers. Conversely, outbound call centers focus primarily on outbound customer communication and may not offer traditional customer service solutions. They’re a great choice for companies who need to do telemarketing, surveying, or market research.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Call Center Provider

All of the above may have made it more clear what you need, or you might be even more confused. The good and bad news is when it comes to outsourcing your call center, there’s a lot of options. So, how do you pick the one that’s going to be right for your company? Just remember to look for the SLEPPT factors: scalability, location, expertise, performance, pricing and technology. 

Scalability and Flexibility

One of the key benefits of working with a call center provider or outsourcing your customer service is the increased scalability and flexibility you gain. An outsourced provider can scale much faster than is possible in-house, which can improve your cost-effectiveness, productivity, and service levels. As a result, when choosing a provider, evaluate not only your current needs but also potential future ones. For example:
  • How much and how fast is your call volume and customer base growing? Will you need to scale up or back in the near future?
  • Do you frequently experience call volume fluctuations throughout the year?
  • How flexible is the provider’s contract to meet changing needs in the future?

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The location of your call center can make a big difference in your experience with them, and can impact everything from costs to quality, services provided, scalability, infrastructure, reliability and more. As a result, considering location carefully is crucial. Consider:

  • How much does geographic proximity to your call center matter for your business needs and goals?
  • What locations offer the best balance of cost-efficiency and quality?
  • What time zones abroad are compatible with your customer base and goals?
  • What communication or cultural barriers will be present with different locations you’re considering?

Common call center location options include onshoring (located in the same country as your business), offshoring (outsourcing overseas), and nearshoring (outsourcing internationally, but to a country that borders or is proximate to the country of your business).

Expertise and Experience

This is a more obvious factor, but it can be difficult to know exactly what to look for. When a call center provider has demonstrated expertise, this is usually evidenced by:

  • certifications such as HIPAA and PCI compliance
  • positive testimonials and reviews from other clients
  • case studies demonstrating positive results
  • clear experience within certain industries
  • a sustainable and long-standing business (e.g. Global Response has been operating call centers for 40+ years!)

Ideally, your call center partner should provide access to experts and experience you don’t have in-house, whether that’s bilingual agents, experienced CX leadership or something else. Ask questions of both leadership and staff to ensure you’re getting the expertise you need.

Performance Metrics and Quality

Similarly, a good call center provider will be able to demonstrate dedication to quality and clear performance metrics that highlight the results they can achieve for your team. You might consider asking:

  • Which performance metrics or KPIs are most relevant for our goals or needs?
  • How experienced is this provider with tracking / improving relevant metrics?
  • What results have they achieved for other clients in our industry?
  • How does this provider measure quality?
  • Do they have a standardized and measurable Quality Assurance (QA) process?

Pricing Structure

Finding a call center provider with a pricing structure that both fits your budget and is cost-effective is also a key factor to consider. The most common pricing structures for call centers include:

  • pay-per-minute: as the name suggests, paying per minute allows you to pay only for the time actually spent on customer calls. However, it can also become expensive for companies with high call volumes.
  • pay-per-hour: the most common and simple model, which allows you to pay based on the total scheduled hours for agents assigned to your brand. This is cost-effective and often provides a straightforward “flat rate” for agreed-upon hours, but it can also become expensive if forecasting is not accurate or call volume decreases.
  • pay-per-call or performance-based: in this case, you’ll pay a flat rate for each call or transaction handled, or per outcome achieved (i.e. sales / conversions). While it can be quite cost-effective, it can also be difficult to budget for.

Technology and Infrastructure

When choosing a call center provider, you want to look at their technology and infrastructure carefully. After all, this is what is supporting your call center operations! Consider:

  • Does their tech stack align with or integrate with our existing technology?
  • Do they make use of modern technology to serve customers well?
  • Does this provider have strong, reliable infrastructure to deliver consistent and quality service?
  • Can their technology help you upgrade your service levels or offerings?

How to Evaluate Call Center Providers

Aside from considering the factors and questions above, making a quality assessment and evaluation of call center providers is crucial to finding the right one for your team.

To evaluate call center providers effectively, first conduct an internal needs assessment. What gaps do your existing team and processes have? Many prospective clients begin reaching out to us or other providers before they really understand their own needs and goals, which can make it difficult to assess how we can help.

Once you’re clear on your own needs, researching potential providers carefully can help you eliminate poor fits from the outset. Use the SLEPPT factors above to evaluate providers and narrow down your list to ones that meet your needs and have a strong positive reputation. Then, ask the right questions as you speak with providers directly. The questions in the section above are a good starting point, but you should also ensure you ask questions specific to your needs, audience, goals and the results you’re hoping to achieve.

Finally, never sign a contract without checking references and reviews. You wouldn’t hire a staff member without calling their references or looking at previous work samples, right? So don’t hire a call center provider—or any outsourcing partner—without doing the same. Talk to current or past clients, check out testimonials and reviews online, and read some of their case studies to get a clear picture of what it’s like to work with this provider and what types of results they can deliver. If they don’t have this kind of information publicly available, ask!

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing a Call Center Provider

Of course, even when armed with the right questions and knowledge, choosing a call center provider can be difficult. Two of the biggest common mistakes clients make is choosing a provider too quickly, without doing appropriate research and vetting, or choosing a provider based on one quality alone (such as price or a specific service).

As you evaluate potential providers, avoid these three common pitfalls:

1) Overlooking cultural or linguistic differences. This makes a bigger difference than many people think—after all, communication is one of the most important factors in a successful partnership. If cultural or linguistic differences break down that communication, then your partnership will be severely limited.

In addition, cultural, linguistic, or even time zone differences can break down productivity and affect customers as well. If customers feel that they can’t understand—or can’t be understood by—your customer service, it’s going to negatively impact customer service experiences.

2) Neglecting data security and compliance. All it takes is one bad security issue, data breach, or privacy leak to tank your company’s reputation. A good call center can help prevent these issues, through PCI compliance, security software, and clear training for agents on data and privacy regulations. Not evaluating if a call center is focused on these concerns is an easy, but costly, area to overlook.

3) Ignoring the importance of training and quality. Don’t assume that a call center will be a perfect fit right “out of the box.” It’s essential to understand how much a call center is willing to train agents on your brand, processes and customer experiences—and to carefully consider what training will be helpful to deliver quality service.

For example, at Global Response, we focus on making our agents your brand specialists, delivering efficient and focused training—both initially and on an ongoing basis—on your brand and audience. Not only does this significantly improve customer service and satisfaction, but it strengthens the overall quality of your service and brand.

Making the Right Choice

Ultimately, making the right choice of a call center provider doesn’t have to be a mysterious and complicated process.

Start by assessing your own needs and goals with outsourcing your call center. Then, evaluate call center providers that have positive SLEEPT factors, as well as provide the services that can meet your needs. Talk to each of them individually, and ask detailed questions to understand how they operate, what they can offer, and how it would be like working together.

Once you’ve chosen a provider, set regular times to reassess the partnership and what’s working—as well as what isn’t. Doing so will allow you to tackle smaller challenges before they become big problems, and it will also help you ensure that your existing provider is continuing to meet your current needs.

For a call center provider that always ticks the right boxes, see if Global Response can help. We make it easy to outsource your call center, and ensure that your customers are always in good hands.


When choosing a call center provider, be sure to consider the SLEEPT factors: scalability, location, expertise, performance, pricing and technology. 

Evaluating potential call center providers starts with understanding your own needs and goals. With a clear needs assessment completed, you can look for potential providers that may meet those needs, and then evaluate their potential for scalability, expertise, pricing structures, technology, and performance to understand if they might be a good fit for you.
Two of the biggest common mistakes clients make is choosing a provider too quickly, without doing appropriate research and vetting, or choosing a provider based on one quality alone (such as price or a specific service). For example, don’t overlook potential linguistic or cultural barriers, infrastructure capacity, data security or privacy concerns, or weak training when choosing a call center.
As the “face” of your brand to customers with questions or concerns, a call center provider plays a critical role in your customer service. A good call center provider can help you strengthen your service and solidify your reputation as a brand who truly cares about their customers, while a weak call center provider can tarnish your reputation.

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