Thinking About an Outsourced Call Center?

Ten Things to Consider

Outsourced Call Centers have become an integral part of the Online Lead Generation Industry. They are used to generate new leads as well as verify, qualify, and warm transfer leads. They are utilized by lead generators, aggregators, and buyers. If you are considering the use of an outsourced call center, or if you make or take calls in-house today and wonder about outsourcing, here are a few things to consider:

#1 - Not All Or Nothing: Using an outsourced call center is not an "all or nothing" proposition. You may wish to run a small segment of your traffic through a call center. Leads can be filtered and sorted by source, destination, quality level, or even time of day, to optimize your operation. Start small with the area that is going to give you the biggest impact for your spend.

#2 - Prices And Models Vary: There is a wide range of costs and different approaches you can take. You can work with a call center to have dedicated Representatives assigned to your program. With this method you can "cherry pick" who is handling your account. However, it is usually the most expensive, as you absorb the risk of volume fluctuations. During low volume periods, you are paying for idle time. Alternatively, you can leverage pooled or shared Representatives which usually allows you to optimize your spend in a "cost per call" or "cost per lead" model for verify and warm transfer calls. Make sure to do your math to understand how much incremental calls are costing you and what your return is for each one. Shop around.

#3 - Quality a Point: Everyone wants the highest quality Representatives handling their calls - but at a really low cost. Understand the length and complexity of the calls that you will be outsourcing. For simple, short verify and warm transfer calls, a lower cost, average Representative should be just fine. For longer, more involved calls, where an in-depth qualification is taking place, a more experienced, higher skilled Representative is usually called for.

#4 - Understand Your Current Costs: When evaluating an outsourced approach vs. in-house resources, consider all of the hidden costs including technology, management, and facilities in the comparison. Also consider the opportunity cost of having higher skilled, highly paid resources doing lower value tasks such as outbound calling.

#5 - Be Open to International Options: Almost everyone has had a bad experience with an international call center Representative. However there are good reasons why so many Fortune 500 companies have chosen to locate their call center overseas. The Philippines now leads the world in Call Center Representatives. English is learned as a primary language and the customer service attitude is excellent. Especially for lower or even medium complexity calls, take a look at the international options.

#6 - Know the Law: New Telephone Consumer Protection Act Regulations went into effect in October of 2013. They prohibit using a robo-dialer when calling cell phones and leaving an automated message, unless the consumer has specifically agreed to receive a call using these methods. If you are currently using an in-house dialer, these new regulations may impact you. If you are considering an outsourced call center, find out how they are handling this issue.

#7 - Use the Data: Using an outsourced call center should not only bring you efficiencies in operations but a wealth of data to improve your overall programs. This valuable data starts with contact rates, call duration, conversion rates, call quality, recordings and call timing analysis. Think about what data could change your world and ask your outsourced provider for it. A service centric call center should be able to get it for you.

#8 - Measure Your Current Operation: How quickly are you reaching your customers on average, not just when you are at your best? Whatever your Key Performance Indicators, get a firm handle on them internally before engaging an outsourced partner so you let them know how you will be measuring them and what you expect.

#9 - Outsourcing Is An And Instead Of An Or: Many businesses have invested to make or take calls in-house. Understand your cost structure, your strengths and the highest-ROI operations that your in-house staff members should perform. Consider moving lower-value (e.g. upper funnel screening, verification, etc.) activities to a lower-cost outsource provider.

#10 - Communication is Key: Organizational change can be challenging. For many teams, using an outsourced call center can have a negative connotation, especially those that are a close to the current operation. Communicating a clear set of goals, what this project is and isn't, and rallying the team around those can be critical to success.

Tags: Call Center, Outsourcing

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