Call center outsourcing is a hot topic on both ends of the phone – company and customer. And both groups have reasons to celebrate and hesitate. From a company’s perspective, call center outsourcing can be attractive for expanding customer communication, but may be nerve-wracking given that it requires giving up some control over their provision of service. From the customer’s perspective, call center outsourcing can provide longer service hours and more available agents, but it can also lead to frustration and misunderstandings.
Let’s take a closer look at call center outsourcing and explore what it could mean for your business.
What is call center outsourcing?
Call center outsourcing is the process by which companies employ an external service provider to operate and manage their call center. This external service provider can be based out of anywhere, but most often this term is used to refer to offshore outsourcing. Offshore outsourcing is simply moving call centers outside of the United States.
Companies may choose to outsource all or part of their call center operations (e.g. sales, service, market research, etc.) In general, companies hand over most of the control to the external provider, giving them the power to hire and train agents, maintain call center software and manage day-to-day operations.
What are the principal upsides of call center outsourcing?
The biggest benefit of call center outsourcing is that external service providers absorb the cost of operations, including call center software maintenance and hiring. This can represent significant savings. Call center outsourcing can also facilitate around the clock service for customers, since outsourced call centers tend to be in different time zones.
What are the principal downsides of call center outsourcing?
The biggest downside of call center outsourcing is that it can lead to decreased customer satisfaction if service representatives do not speak the same language or come from the same culture as the customers. Additionally, companies may feel that their call center operations are no longer in their control, so they do not have as much power over brand representation, company knowledge or call center decisions.
25 Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Your Call Center
- What am I hoping to achieve by outsourcing?
- Which aspects of my call center will be outsourced?
- Does the outsourced solution allow for inbound and outbound agents?
- How much money will it cost to outsource?
- How much do I expect this to affect my profit margins?
- How involved do I want HQ to be with the outsourced call center?
- How much time will it save longterm?
- How much time am I willing to put in upfront?
- Where will the call center be located?
- What language will the call center agents speak?
- What culture will the call center agents come from?
- What are the laws concerning privacy in the location of your call center?
- How secure will the outsourced solution be?
- Will these call center agents be fielding calls for other companies at the same time?
- How much control will I have over hiring?
- What will my call center’s hours of operation be?
- How will I ensure that quality standards are being met?
- What call center KPIs will I use to track success?
- Will my customers mind if I outsource my call center?
- Will my customers notice that my call center has been outsourced?
- How will the outsourced solution scale?
- Will the outsourced call center be able to receive calls from everywhere your customer base is?
- Will it be possible to outsource more than just phone communications?
- What call center software will the external source use?
- How customizable will the software settings be?
Note: This list is by no means exhaustive.
What are your choices when it comes to call center outsourcing?
There are many shades of call center outsourcing. Everything depends on your answers to the above questions.
For one, outsourcing is not a compulsory practice. It’s a choice and it may not be the right choice for you! Second, although the implication tends to be offshore outsourcing, local outsourcing is alway an option. Outsource your call center, but don’t go very far. Third, if you’re not ready to make the leap, why not outsource just a few aspects of your call center?
Another option is to flip the script. Instead of thinking of call center outsourcing as setting up a traditional on-premise solution to somewhere remote, consider that newer technologies may allow you to retain ownership and control over your call center solution, no matter where your agents are.
Cloud-based call center solutions allow for flexibility that traditional on-premise solutions do not. When you’re not tethered to a set of physical telephones, you’re free to have agents anywhere and everywhere. Not only that, but global managers have a view into their call center metrics and agent activities from wherever they happen to be that day. Save money, ease scaling and expansion, assure quality with call monitoring and recording, and look into the backend to get peace of mind on the operation of your business.
Whatever you decide when it comes to call center outsourcing, make sure to do your research. This is a big decision; treat it like one.