5 Call Center Staffing Model Examples
You don’t need to settle for a one-size-fits-all solution to staff your call center. While outsourcing all or part of your contact center staffing can be a turnkey operation, you need to choose the staffing model best suited for your needs.
When you choose GCS for your call center outsourcing needs, we will take you through several options for call center staffing. There are lots of variables to consider and the stakes can be high. We want the solution to work long-term for you.
Learn more about the different call center staffing models, including outsourcing, insourcing, location-specific vendors, live agents, and self-help customer service technology.
1) Outsourcing vs. Running your Own Operation
The first choice you need to make in deciding a call center staffing model is whether you want to outsource your entire operation or manage it in-house.
When you choose to outsource, you are opting to have another company, like GCS, handle everything for you. This makes your life easier and simplifies your operations, but it also comes with some important benefits.
1. Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing can be less expensive than housing your own call center. Your outsourcing vendor can leverage economies of scale that you won’t be able to access with a call center of your size. There is a lot of support for a large center with HR, technology, communications, workforce management, QA, training, and more. With an outsourcer, you share those expenses with other clients.
In a self-managed operation, you would pay for all of the overhead and agents, regardless of their utilization. Outsourcing can be more cost-effective depending on the pricing model. While you may want Dedicated Agents working only on your program, it is often possible to use Shared Agents. In a Shared Agent center, you only pay for the minutes the agents are actually working with your customers.
2. Improved Productivity: Productivity usually improves with an outsourced call center because they’re an expert at call center operations. Outsourced call centers specialize in efficiency as a core offering. The contractor is actively managing the center to keep costs down, while meeting your KPI and CSAT goals.
Outsource partners also have to stay up to speed on new technologies, regulations and best practices to remain competitive. You benefit from this focus on the partner’s core service. It is how they provide real value to you.
Often the responsibilities of in-house centers are diluted when the employees are called on to shoulder additional responsibilities. The focus on the in-house call center is diluted and everyone loses. Those employees are less productive, and your call center customers do not have the benefit of agents focused on them full-time.
3. Reduced Risk: Vendors keep you compliant. They understand the standards you need to meet and help you reduce regulatory risk by following laws, regulations, and certifications.
We also know what works. You benefit from our experience across industries and with different program types. Programs start faster and run smoother. Your program gains from the continual improvement of all programs.
4. Better Training: Remember, managing successful customer interactions is what vendors do. If there is not a commitment to consistent and frequent agent coaching, look elsewhere.
We know how to select, train, and continually coach our agents so they deliver your message in a professional way. After years of training tens of thousands of agents, we’ve even developed our own proprietary soft skills and empathy training program.
5. Enhanced Scalability: Finally, outsourced call centers are infinitely scalable. Most vendors have a bevy of locations and agents at the ready. They can accommodate your needs when you require more people to take your customers’ calls, such as after a market expansion, during a seasonal peak, or before a new product launch. Scaling an internal call center would require quite an investment of time and money to match the scalability of an outsourced call center.
Clearly, outsourcing your call center has its benefits. However, some companies already have a call center or they prefer to handle everything in-house because they want complete control. If this sounds like you, a company like GCS can provide value in several ways:
BOT (Build – Operate – Transfer): We can even help your company build a call center. GCS provides site selection help, design and layout, technology and connectivity, security, and redundancy. We staff the call center with both agents and managers. GCS sets up policies and procedures that ensure you reach your performance goals. Once the center is ready, we turn it over to your team.
COCO (Company Owned, Contractor Operated): We come into your existing center and manage it for you. GCS assumes your employees, manages your performance standards, and works closely with your team to continually improve your performance.
In-house options often will cost more than outsourcing to a shared center operator. And the risk is greater— after you build your facility, you might find that your needs soon change or are not what you had anticipated. Eliminate that risk by handing capacity support to a partner like GCS.
2) Deciding on Ownership
Next, you will need to decide on ownership. This decision determines who is responsible for the call center, its performance, and its people.
In a typical outsourcing situation, your call center partner would:
- Own the facility.
- Employ agents.
- Manage performance to meet your service expectations.
When you opt for in-house facilities, your company would typically be responsible for those items. In some cases, companies choose a hybrid model called Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT).
In this arrangement, your call center vendor would build your call center for you, either at one of your existing facilities or in a new location of your choosing. They set up the technology, purchase the equipment, document the process and design everything needed in the center.
Next, they hire your team, which includes everyone from the management and quality assurance staff to the agents. Your vendor trains the team and provides continual coaching until the facility is fully operational. At a predetermined time or level of operation, the vendor turns it over to you to manage.
BOT is ideal for situations when:
- You want to lower costs by moving to a new location or facility. However, you lack knowledge of the location or
don’t have enough internal resources for the project.
- You prefer to conserve capital cost early in the project.
- You need to establish a new facility without disrupting current operations.
Employee ownership can also be a flexible call center model.
Whereas in most outsourcing arrangements, the call center vendor is responsible for the employees. On the other hand, in most in-house situations, your company provides all the necessary oversight.
However, it’s possible to use an outsourcer to staff some or all of your employees. Typically, the existing employees would be assimilated into other areas or your operation.
The possibilities for ownership in your call center staffing model are many. Feel free to discuss the pros and cons with the contact center staffing experts at GCS and check out this video discussing our model for staffing management.
3) Choosing Center Location
Take some time to consider your call center location. Depending on the call center outsourcing vendor you choose, you may have the option of locating your call center:
On-shore or Domestic: In North America (U.S. and Canada)
Off-shore: Outside of North and Central America (Europe, Asia, or the Middle East)
Near-shore: A location that is non-domestic but still geographically close (For the US, this would be Mexico or the Dominican Republic).
While GCS does the majority of our work domestically, none of these options are better than another. Each location has benefits and risks. What’s important is finding the right shore for you to land. Work with an expert like GCS to determine the best location to meet your needs.
Best for: Customer service, tech support, complex support, and customers who want U.S.-based service.
Also called “onshore,” this type of call center is located in the United States or Canada because this is where most of your customers are located.
Because your customer service agents and your customers live in the same country (and possibly the same state or county), it’s easier to serve the needs of your customers. Agents have a better understanding of the language as well as the culture, slang, weather, environment, and various accents.
This kind of familiarity goes a long way in building trust and loyalty with your customer base. It’s also easier to train your agents to be more effective. Plus, if you want to travel to the facility for any reason, it’s easy to do so. The only downside is that the cost can be higher than other locations.
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Best for: Back office operations, text or chat support, simple customer service, internal call centers, and multi-language needs. This arrangement also works better for outbound calls instead of inbound service.
Companies in the United States often have call centers placed in countries like India or the Philippines because labor costs and operating costs are lower, but education and skill level is still high. While this is a cost-effective option, it has some disadvantages.
1. Language Barriers: It can be difficult for someone from another country to understand common English. Even in nations with a strong understanding of English, understanding different accents, idioms, and colloquial language is difficult. If your customers have difficulty understanding what the agent says, it could make them take their business elsewhere.
2. Call Handling Times: Another issue is that call handling times tend to be longer with offshore call centers. This means customers have to wait longer to speak to an agent or you may need a larger agent pool. When customers do reach an agent, that exchange will take longer. In some cases, First Call Resolution is lower because customers have to call more than once to resolve a single issue.
3. Phone Scripts: Because of language barriers, offshore call center agents are usually confined to a script. Agents parrot phrases that may or may not lead to true problem resolution. It can be hard to pull off complex support with this option.
4. Travel: If you do need to reach the facility, it’s going to take time and additional cost for you to get there—you might even need to get a visa. That makes it much more difficult to manage your offshore center’s performance.
Best for: Calls that are not very complex, such as marketing or sales; back-office support and non-verbal support, and international customer programs. This arrangement also works better for outbound calls instead of inbound service.
In some cases, a “nearshore” solution may be best. This is when you place a call center geographically close to your operations but still outside the nation’s borders.
In the case of the United States, this would involve having call centers in Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central America. While accents and language can still be an issue, there is often more of a familiarity with U.S. culture. The cost is normally lower than domestic operations. It’s also easier to travel to a nearshore facility than an offshore one.
You might also consider a hybrid model that segments tasks based on agent location. This helps you realize cost savings without sacrificing customer experience. As an added bonus, you may be able to benefit from the number of languages your call centers can support as well.
Not sure which option is best for you? Get in touch with GCS to choose a domestic, offshore, nearshore, or a hybrid solution tailored to your needs.
4) Live Agents and Self-Help Technology
But moving your call center operations offshore isn’t the only way to reduce costs in your facility. You also have the option of using live agents, self-service, or a combination of the two.
Staffing real people on the other end of your phone lines, web chat, email, or other communication channels gives customers a more personalized experience.
Because they are live, as opposed to a recording, live agents tend to resolve customer issues more quickly. You can also train agents to have empathy and provide an experience designed to build repeat business and your brand.
The only downsides to live agents are cost and the fact that some callers don’t want to speak to a person.
Self-service, or self-directed service, is a popular way to manage customer interactions. Automated systems resolve many simple customer issues quickly, as long as they don’t require the involvement of an agent, like monitoring an account balance or checking a flight arrival time.
Self-service can also be configured to provide services when agents aren’t available. This way, you are able to offer your customer some amount of service any time, day or night.
Automated systems provide a valuable service with minimal cost, while live agents provide the highest level of customer care. Fortunately, you don’t need to choose one over the other. You can adopt a hybrid option for your call center and back-office operations.
For calls and click-to-calls in a hybrid format, customers pass through an IVR or other automated service to identify their needs. Then the call routes to the live agent or self-service system best suited to fulfill their needs.
If the automated system can handle their request, the customer starts there. Otherwise, the call goes to a live agent. It’s the best of both worlds, both for you and your customers.
5) Call Center Technology
Finally, consider the technology your call center is using. Experienced outsourcing vendors can do more than set up a system that fits your needs—they have the ability to connect your systems to those used by the call center. This way, all customer information is available to the customer service representative and issue resolution is easier.
GCS can also add systems and technologies that will help you better serve your customers in other ways, such as:
- Giving agents the ability to escalate customer issues with a ticket system.
- Adding different communication channels, like webchat.
- Monitoring calls for quality.
GCS can help you make sure that your technology meets security standards, such as HIPAA and PCI-DSS as well.
When you outsource your call center, you aren’t just solving your call center issues—you’re getting a partner to improve your business and meet strategic objectives. If you’ve come this far, you probably already have an idea of how you want to define success. If you’re still trying to decide which path is best for your business, learn about the ins and outs of outsourcing your call center.
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