In this digitally connected world, businesses need to stay on top of customer expectations and therefore cannot underestimate communication with their customers and their complete satisfaction. Customers expect prompt service, whether it is from a large multinational chain, a start-up, or even their neighborhood restaurant. Walk into any small office in the USA today, and you will see agents on the phone talking to their customers, something which requires time, as well as patience. Call center outsourcing is a shining beacon of hope for such businesses and companies looking to reclaim their employees' time while servicing their customers in the best possible way.
It is a misbelief that offshore call center services involve tele calling alone. The other functions include assisting customers via chat-boxes or by email, conducting professional surveys, and obtaining products and service feedback. Call center services can vary based on your requirements, but customer satisfaction will be the number one priority. According to a recent survey conducted by Deloitte, nowadays call centers are focusing more on customer satisfaction than revenue. But shortlisting call center outsourcing vendor is no easy task, as many internal and external factors must be considered before outsourcing. Let's have a look at some of the more important ones -
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no real right or wrong approach for choosing contact center service providers. Like most things in life, it is imperative to consider the choice with common-sense and an innate knowledge of your business, its requirements, and its shortcomings. But once you have decided, here are 10 factors to consider while shortlisting call center outsourcing vendor -
Analyzing your business requirements is extremely important before you decide the type of call center company you want to outsource to. Outsourcing assessment and vendor selection begin by noting down your goals and objectives, both long-term and short-term. Discuss with the top-management and the board, if there is one before deciding the budget that you would want to allocate for outsourcing call center services. Thereafter, you can choose from a variety of different call center service providers, who work in the following domains -
It is imperative to your overall growth that you figure out where the call center vendor you want to work with is headquartered, and where its agents handle the support. Offshore call centers are without a doubt the most cost-effective because countries like India and Indonesia have a varied service palette that will leave you spoilt for choice. On the downside, you might have to deal with accented English, and extensive training regimens. The US-based call centers can provide you with fully-fleshed services, but native English speakers coupled with modern infrastructure often means that your budget will skyrocket easily.
Luckily though, many offshore call center vendors are now becoming increasingly competitive when it comes to agent compensation and infrastructure modernization, resulting in a superior but cost-effective call center team at your disposal.
If we haven't reiterated this before, please understand when we say this, even the most loyal customers of your brand or business is likely to defect to someone else if they are unhappy with your service or your products. Therefore, it is important to perform a deep-dive analysis of the call centers communication platform, understand its nuances, see how they co-ordinate with each other and how they engage their customers. Many call center companies will bombard you with figures, but until you decide which figure is important for your end goals do not take the next step.
Once you have performed market exploration and vendor selection, you need to send an RFP to get in-depth knowledge about the vendor's work culture and operational procedure along with other necessary parameters. Describe your requirements in detail, and do not hesitate to include hypothetical scenarios to understand how the call center vendor aims to solve them. When composing an RFP, do not forget to ask the following questions -
According to a recent survey by IDC, 75% of call center vendors will start including AI features and functionality in several applications by 2019. Therefore, BPO service providers who can upgrade or have already embraced new technology are likely to be well equipped for the future and can provide you with better servicing options. Frequent visits by your senior engineer to the call center facility during the design phase can help ensure that both sides are on the same page as far as project understanding is considered. Therefore, allowing you to set up processes which will include high tech capability from the get go.
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One can always wish that call center outsourcing was a piece of cake, but unfortunately, unless you dig down deep and understand the exact nature of services that you sign up for, it could end up being a costly mistake. Talking about mistakes, always ensure that you check the business scope and size of the call center vendor. Do not go by what they proclaim, visit their premises. Choosing a small vendor for a large business requirement means soon the vendor will be inundated with work, and corners will be cut to meet your expectations. As is often the case in such a scenario, quality is what will suffer first, followed by a tarnished brand image which you can avoid altogether by going to a reputed vendor. If your vendor shows the ability to scale up or scale down within a matter of days, you know that things would be handled properly without leading to additional costs as well.
Money, Pricing, Overheads - whatever you might call it, the bottom line is that the cost and budget you sign up for is a major reason for why you chose to outsource anyway. Call center vendors usually have multiple pricing options, including hourly or per minute rates. Once again, doing your homework about your requirements and your KPIs will ensure you walk into a contract with a complete understanding of the pricing and make sure everything remains transparent on paper. The art of negotiation will not be lost, not when you are signing up for what can potentially be a great project for the call center vendor as well.
Based upon your requirements, you would either like to partner with a call center vendor who serves in a particular region or has the global reach to make it easier for your customers from around the globe to contact you. In such cases, you must inquire if the vendor offers international business process outsourcing solutions and has multiple global delivery centers to make the process of outsourcing smoother. Keep in mind that a trained, multilingual staff handling your customers' queries can hugely impact your brand image and the service quality as perceived by your customers.
While seemingly un-important in the beginning, choosing a vendor for call center outsourcing who has both shared and dedicated agent resources is the best way to go. Dedicated agents only work on your project, giving it their full time and attention and is ideal for businesses whose requirements are extremely specific and niche. At the same time, dedicated agents come with definite skillsets, and can be a tad more expensive than shared resources who are ideal for companies with general needs. Shared resources work on multiple projects within one day and are often cheaper.
Ideally, hiring a vendor who has both kinds of resources will help you in the long run, as you can have a team of dedicated agents working on handling customer complaints, while a team of shared resources taking feedback, providing general support, etc.
Your customers have a set of expectations from you and the brand in general, and the call center agents will be a manifestation of your public image. Securing a low-budget service provider who promises you the moon should not be the only criteria. It's worth looking into your vendor's track record and interact with clients they have recently serviced. Check if they have the required certifications, especially from ISO and other national and international associations. Verify what sort of industries they have served, and their quality metrics. Doing so, will help you understand the quality of performance to be expected from the vendor.
Hiring the perfect call center outsourcing partner during the call center vendor selection process is not everyone's cup of tea. At O2I, we make this job much easier by helping you understand the process from the inside out. We have worked with international clients across multiple geographies, and our call center services can help you cut down costs while providing your customers with the best service possible.
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