Practices for a Successful Relationship with a Outsourced Call Center

shaking handsIf you run a corporate call center, chances are you have at some point considered— or are currently considering— outsourcing some or all of your service operations.  In today’s post, we’ll consider steps you can take to ensure that the outsourcing relationship is set up for success.

WHY CONSIDER OUTSOURCING?

Most businesses today, especially those that are consumer-facing, consider the call or contact center as an important strategic asset.

Research tells us that today’s savvy, well-informed consumer often judges a business based on their initial interaction with the company’s call center.  So, the stakes are high for getting the call center operation right.

There are a variety of ways to engage a call center depending on the needs of your business.  Consider these three common engagement scenarios:

  1. Complete outsourcing, in which the third party handles all facets of the contact center.
  2. Managed, or hosted, contact centers in which a service provider is responsible for the systems while the enterprise controls the agents or applications.
  3. Blended models, in which the enterprise maintains responsibility for certain applications (e.g., telemarketing) while the service provider handles a separate function, such as customer service.

Regardless of the model employed, there are numerous advantages to outsourcing:

  • Lower costs: An outsourced supplier can help reduce labor costs as well as operational infrastructure, thus generating savings over time.
  • Eliminate staffing issues: Outsourced suppliers typically handle all aspects of staffing, such as hiring, testing and training. 
  • 24/7 customer service: Outsourced suppliers allow call centers operate on a 24/7 basis at significantly lower costs. And every hour of the day is utilized. Top call center providers guarantee 100% uptime and staff dedicated to call quality, thus improving the odds of delivering a superior customer experience
  • Handle overflow call volume: Outsourcing part of your call center operation to a service provider (that is only responsible for answering overflow calls during periods of high call volume) can be an invaluable solution to a costly problem.

MANAGING FOR SUCCESS

Once the decision is made to engage a call center service provider, the critical next step is to ensure that both parties are clear about responsibilities, expectations and accountability.  If you are the client in this outsourcing endeavor, it is important for you to invest the necessary time up front to ensure that the relationship works as smoothly as possible from the start. 

To that end, our colleagues at Global Response couldn’t be more right about these five steps that an enterprise must take to ensure a successful relationship with a call center service provider:

1. Be clear about objectives

Senior managers must clearly articular their reasons for outsourcing the company’s call center operations, such as:

  • Better customer service
  • Social media listening and engagement
  • Business process outsourcing

2. Find the right operations manager

You want to be sure you have the right person managing your operations.  Generally, a strong call center manager must possess three qualities:

  • Organizational skills:  the manager must be adept at hiring and managing people, monitoring customer cases, solving problems, understanding technology and coordinating workflow.  This individual must be an expert multi-tasker to be effective the role.
  • Time management: the ops manager must be sure that agents adhere to schedules, work efficiently and prioritize tasks.

3. Build an effective team

The most effective teams are built around “brand care specialists” who are aligned with the program and the brand.  Be sure that your team is staffed with a group of individuals who understand your business and can effectively answer customer questions and solve problems, quickly and clearly.

4. Install the right infrastructure

While people are important, systems cannot be overlooked when developing your call center operation.  Several things to consider in this regard:

  • Map out the process:  build a workflow that defines the ideal customer experience.  This work flow should consider call types, call volumes, service levels and strategic goals.
  • Build a complete infrastructure:  invest in an infrastructure that meets your needs (i.e. don’t over-build).  Larger enterprises, for example, likely need an infrastructure for telephony, CRM, case management, live chat and social media management, to name a few.

5. Ensure business partner alignment

Create a system that emphasizes on-going senior management communication.  Perhaps, more importantly, all stakeholders should be aware and apprised of forecasts and on-going performance.

Whether you are outsourcing all or a portion of your corporate call center operation, make sure you and your service provider are working off the same playbook before the relationship begins.  Given the importance of customer service to your bottom line, you can’t afford to do otherwise.

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ABOUT RDI

RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.