Top Considerations for Contact Center Outsourcing
Thinking about outsourcing your contact center? Here’s everything you need to consider before you start the process.
At GCS, we help companies like yours set up call center outsourcing every day. Sometimes, these businesses are growing too fast for them to scale their customer service needs to meet the demand. Other times, they have had a contact center provider in place, but they worried that they were not getting their money’s worth or they were unhappy with the level of customer care. Sometimes they are looking to control or reduce cost with better management and technology. Whatever the case may be, your first priority in contact center outsourcing is to find a vendor that can meet your parameters.
Let’s look at these considerations in turn.
First, look at whether your outsourcing vendor has the right technology. You may want to offer specific communication channels to your customers or use a certain CRM system. If that’s the case, rule out any contact center outsourcer who cannot meet those needs. Also, remember that technology becomes obsolete, often when you least expect it. Your contact center services provider needs to have the available capital to invest in new technology and the right attitude to be open to these changes. Not every vendor will be willing to put money into staying up-to-date.
Cost needs to be a consideration as well. You already know that you need to look at how much specific contact center solutions will cost and how that fits into your company’s operating budget – but make sure you are doing the math. Different vendors have different pricing strategies. Some will work in your favor, but others will not.
In general, you will have different choices for your pricing structure. Some companies use a per call or per minute basis while others prefer to bill hourly. Make sure to find out if they include supervision, connectivity, technology (software, in particular) or operating expenses into the quoted figure. In addition, keep in mind that the pricing may vary depending on what services they are providing at the time. The training rate is usually less than the production rate. Understand who is responsible for training for ongoing coaching, replacement agents due to turnover and changes made to the scope or offerings.
Cost comparison should also include an element of overall value. With outsourced centers, there is a difference in how the human resources are managed throughout the process. Also, if your center is a profit center, a higher investment in the people skills needed to close sales can be worth a higher price.
Pay attention to the way your vendor handles hiring as well. Some contact center service providers will hire just about anyone. They pay their agents just over minimum wage and take almost everyone who applies. That may work for some needs, but if you care about your customer service, you are going to need to choose a vendor that is more selective. Quality call center employees will help you improve the customer experience and reduce any applicable compliance risk.
Also, look for companies that can properly manage and schedule staffing. At GCS, we have developed a Workforce Mindset Approach to make sure that you have the right number of agents in production at any given time. This way your customers enjoy minimal wait times and you don’t pay for idle agents. Unfortunately, this approach takes an active management team and not every vendor is as careful with what you are paying for their service, so do your homework.
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Determine What Services You Need
Finally, look at which services you actually need from your contact center services provider. Ideally, if the job function is not part of your core business, you should hand it over to an outsourcer – especially if it is highly repetitive. Keep in mind the issue of expertise too. Remember that an experienced vendor can help you run your call center more efficiently and effectively than you can in-house because they have a broader experience across multiple industries. Working with such an outsourcer is like having a consultant constantly looking for ways to improve your center operations and customer experience. We have a program of Continuous Innovation to deliver ongoing performance from the agent and the operations.
Staffing management includes agent recruitment and selection, proper staffing and scheduling in addition to daily oversight. The process can be time-consuming and takes a responsive management team. It is necessary to have a background in call center management. Hiring an outsourcer to handle everything for you just makes sense. When you turn these functions over to your vendor, you free up time to focus on your core business.
Ask your prospective partner to explain workforce management approach. This approach involves figuring out where and when you need agents Proper workforce management will help your customers receive better customer service at the lowest possible cost for you.
Look at what type of training services you need too. Most vendors will offer some type of on-site training, but what happens when you need to hire a new agent? Who pays for the training? Did they have a train-the-trainer process that ensures ongoing training is done consistently with each new class? We all have played the game where you whisper a story to the person next to you and they pass it around a circle. When the story gets back to you, the details have changed dramatically. You don’t want this to happen with your training. A dedicated trainer and content program is critical.
Also, keep in mind that training should never really stop. What happens after your initial agents are on-boarded? How do they handle ongoing coaching and performance review? Do they listen to call recordings, use voice analytics and learning management systems to track training? Make sure to get answers to these questions before hiring an outsourcer.
At GCS, we also like to provide online training to support live training and informal coaching. This blended approach allows us to reinforce and practice concepts taught in the classroom then use the personal coaching to focus on key areas, refine techniques and listen to self-coaching. Mastering soft skills and empathy techniques is a marathon, not a sprint. We find it is more efficient to have daily touch points and multiple ways to build the agent skill set. This ongoing coaching is part of our Continual Innovation process. It’s a big part of what makes our agents the best.
We know not all outsourcing vendors put this level of care into agent training. And sometimes it may not be necessary. Some of them provide a simple training to introduce your people to the call center technology they put in place and they stop there. Just understand what you are getting.
Your involvement with your outsourcer doesn’t have to end with staff and training. The right contact center vendor will be your consultant. They can provide advice on how to run your program both efficiently (cost and process) and effectively (each customer interaction). The right company will help you figure out the best call flow, scripting and staffing approaches. They will share real time key performance indicators (KPIs) and how they are meeting them. They can help you identify cost control opportunities both in process and self-service channels. Let your outsourcer help you improve the program, maximize the technology in place, and engage in a process of Continual Improvement.
Any contact center services provider you choose should be a true partner. A good outsource partner will offer the expertise needed to meet your program objectives for cost and KPI. They will work with your subject matter experts to learn your product and services. They will embrace your company culture and communicate it to the customer in what they do and say. Their role is to deliver your message to the market and provide performance that makes you look smarter for your decision to work with them.
As you move forward in your vendor selection process, be sure to fully evaluate candidates for the value you need from the partnership. Ultimately, you need to make sure that any outsourcer you hire is able to provide the communication channels you want, integrate into your existing technology systems, hire agents who can represent your company well, and do it all at a price that works for you.
GCS is an experienced outsourcing provider. We can meet the needs of most programs. Or point you in the right direction. Let’s talk about your vision for an outsourced center. Hear about the GCS difference and learn how we can help you achieve your contact center service goals.
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