By Jenna Bunnell – Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
More and more companies are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by outsourcing sections of their business operations. Many enterprises that want to bounce back after covid are looking to make the most effective use of their resources and see outsourcing as a convenient and cost-effective means to do so.
Call center outsourcing provides them the perfect opportunity to both maximise resources and improve customer relationship management.
What is Call Center Outsourcing?
Outsourcing, or business provider outsourcing (BPO), entails subcontracting specific business processes to a third-party provider who will manage every aspect of the operation on their partner’s behalf. Think of it as similar to the single pane of glass meaning, whereby all processes required for that operation will be managed by one, third-party company.
Call center outsourcing specifically subcontracts tele-calling. This usually incorporates a company’s customer relationship management such as technical support, sales support, or order management.
Tele-calling can also be sectioned into inbound and outbound calling, and both options are offered by most call center outsourcing providers, for example Dialpad inbound and outbound call center.
Inbound calling – where agents answer calls made to the company from their customers such as IT support or emergency breakdown provision.
Outbound calling – is used for marketing and outreach purposes like lead generation and customer satisfaction surveys. For example, an agent may work for a company that sells NFT art and wants to recruit potential freelance artists.
The Benefits of Call Center Outsourcing
Call center outsourcing offers several benefits including:
Effective Use of Resources
Call center outsourcing is extremely cost-effective not only in terms of money but also in time. Hiring and training a call center team is expensive. Plus, you also need to purchase the best hardware and software, and train your staff to use it to ensure the best experience for your customers.
Let’s not forget that you will need a management team to oversee your call center operatives. It is much cheaper to outsource your call center operations and hire one person to manage the relationship with your third-party provider.
Just think of the savings in time and money that could be put to better use handling some of your more critical in-house operations.
As a result of higher running costs, in-house call centers usually employ fewer agents which often leads to increased difficulties for operators to hit their targets.
For example, a call center that sells international domains may set an average speed of answer (the minimum time to attend an incoming call) at 15 seconds. This may be easily achievable in a call center with 50 plus agents, but one with only 20 agents will struggle to meet that target.
Outsourced call centers can scale their staffing levels more effectively and are therefore able to achieve higher targets.
In-house call centers usually run to a set timetable in line with the business’s operations and global location. Outsourced call centers operate 24/7, thereby making your service more accessible for your customers, wherever they may be.
Outsourced call centers can also draw upon a larger range of skills and experience. They can access a wider pool of agents with a greater range of experience in different industries dealing with a variety of customers and issues.
You may also be able to offer a more multilingual customer relationship package using call center agents around the globe. This may prove particularly effective for companies that may wish to expand into eCommerce and help them provide a better global customer experience.
Beware of Challenges Ahead
This all sounds fantastic, but outsourcing your call center operations to a third-party provider can also create a few challenges:
Poor Brand or Service Knowledge
Your in-house team knows and upholds your company’s core message and has an in-depth understanding of your products and services.
If you do not work closely with your third-party provider to ensure their agents have the same understanding and dedication, then it will consequently have a negative impact on your customers’ experiences.
Language and Cultural Barriers
Depending on the location of your outsourced call center operations, there may be additional language barriers and cultural experiences to consider.
You need to ensure that your provider incorporates excellent training in communications skills for their agents so they can interact with your customers effectively.
For example, the English language alone has several idioms and variances across the globe. A customer in the US may have difficulty understanding an Australian agent if they use local slang.
The most obvious and concerning aspect for any company that wishes to outsource its business operations is a lack of direct control. With call center operations you are putting your brand and customer experience in the hands of your provider, and they are responsible for upholding the quality of the service. To reduce this risk, you need to work in partnership with your provider to ensure their agents are working productively and upholding your brand.
Don’t Jump In
Due to the challenges and risks involved in taking on a third-party partner for your call center operations, it’s important to do your research before you steam ahead.
1. Evaluate Your Needs
The cost savings may be beneficial, but first you need to establish if you really need to outsource your operations. What is the point in outsourcing your call center operations when really all you need is to upgrade to the best business phone system to help improve your speed of answer times?
Are you experiencing increased numbers of calls, but you cannot increase your staffing levels to handle them? Do you want to scale up your customer service levels or are you planning on expanding to new territories?
Any of the above would indicate that you may benefit from outsourcing your call center operations. But before you approach potential providers, you must establish exactly what you need and your objectives to ensure you find the right provider who can help you achieve them.
2. Search for Providers
Make sure you check out a wide number of potential providers and gather recommendations, particularly from companies in the same industry. You could use cohort analysis tools to learn how a provider has performed if they offer services across different industries.
This third party is going to be your partner, one who needs to uphold your brand and message and provides the same levels of customer service you would expect from an in-house team. You do not want to hand over services that are vital to building customer loyalty to another company without fully researching their performance and reputation.
3. Evaluate Your Short-list
Does the provider have the right skills and experience to help you fulfill your objectives? The provider should be able to deliver adequate training to ensure their operatives have excellent communication skills, plus in-depth knowledge of your products and services, as well as the standard organization and problem-solving skills. Plus, they should also give their agents the best tools to help them do their job effectively whether they are a location-based or cloud-based operation.
You need to make your objectives clear so you can choose the best partner to help you achieve them. Offer the contract out for tender with a Request for Proposal (RFP), then providers must show you how they can meet your needs.
Your RFP should include the required coverage (inbound or outbound), the service hours required, which languages you need to support, your data integration systems, and expected KPIs.
Visit any location-based operations and interview potential providers so you can ask any necessary questions and see how they are managed.
Once you have chosen the ideal provider who can work in partnership with you to meet your objectives ensure everything is included in the Service Level Agreement.
Once You’re Up and Running
You should view your call center provider as a partner, and the management of that partnership will be crucial to success.
A dedicated relationship manager should oversee the partnership to ensure it is running smoothly and expectations are being met.
It is important to work together at all levels, from integrating software to writing the call scripts and establishing the expected phone etiquette.
Your KPIs should help you to determine the effectiveness of your partnership. If you set clear objectives for call waiting times, customer satisfaction, and call resolution, you should be able to monitor and work together to achieve positive outcomes for both parties.
Are You Ready?
Outsourcing your call center operations can be daunting, but if you find the right partner you can take advantage of several lucrative benefits.
It’s important to establish your needs and set targets before you begin your search for the right partner who will help you achieve your objectives.
Similar to working in affiliate marketing, you need the best and easiest affiliate program, or in this case, a third-party provider, that meets your needs and shares similar values and goals to help you improve your customer experience and thereby create brand loyalty.