Outsourced Call Centers have become an integral part of many business operations. These centers are used in customer acquisition as well as customer service. For example, they are qualifying prospects and making follow-up appointments. When thinking about using a call center partner, 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. To optimize your operation, new prospects that come in as online leads can be filtered and sorted by source, destination, quality level, or even time of day. Start small with the area that will give you the most return on investment.
#2 – Prices and Models Vary
You can take a wide range of costs and approaches. You can work with a call center to have dedicated Representatives assigned to your program. However, this can be expensive. You will generally be responsible for paying for those team members’ time during low-volume periods. Alternatively, you can leverage pooled or shared Representatives, which usually allows you to optimize your spend in a “cost per minute” or “cost per call” model for calls. There are also hybrid models that will enable dedicated team members to roll off during extended low lower volume periods.
#3 – Quality Matters…to a Point
Everyone wants the highest quality Agents handling their calls and representing their brand – but at a really low cost. Understand the length and complexity of the calls that you will be outsourcing. A lower-cost, well-trained average Representative may be fine for simple, short calls. For longer, more involved calls, where an in-depth qualification takes place, a more experienced, higher-skilled Agent is usually best.
#4 – Understand Your Current Costs
When evaluating an outsourced approach vs. in-house resources, consider all 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 the primary language, and the customer service attitude is excellent. Especially for lower or even medium complexity calls, look at the international options.
#6 – Know the Laws
Our process has integrated new Federal and State regulations for making calls. For example, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act Regulations prohibits using a Robo-dialer when calling cell phones and leaving an automated message. The only exception is if the consumer has expressly agreed to receive a call using these methods. These new regulations may impact you if you are currently using an in-house dialer. If you are considering an outsourced call center, find out how they handle 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 (KPIs), get a firm handle on them internally before engaging an outsourced partner. Explain your KPIs in detail to your partner so both of you will know how their performance will be measured over time for the specific objectives.
#9 – Outsourcing Is an And Instead Of An Or
Many businesses have invested in making or taking calls in-house. Understand your cost structure, strengths, and the highest-ROI operations 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 close to the current operation. Communicating a clear set of goals, what the project is and isn’t, and rallying the team around those can be critical to success.