Outsourcing the Right Way: An 8-Step Program Ahead

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CIO.com, a site serving Chief Information Officers, introduces us to “eight tips for choosing the right contact center for business.” These tips help us better understand what to look for when outsourcing third-party representatives for our call center initiatives and customer service support. Many of us choose to outsource to cut corners in our budgets, while others may choose to outsource expert call center professionals, fully equipped to handle large workloads.

“1. Have a good sense of what you need, or want, before you start interviewing contact centers.”

The first step in choosing the right call center agency is defining what you are looking for in a service provider. If the outsourcing agency isn’t fulfilling an exact need, you’re misusing budgets. Don’t hire a call center that doesn’t provide e-mail correspondence and virtual sales if a majority of your customers connect through the Web. If you need service after business hours, why are you sacrificing peak sales hours?

“2. Get references and speak with other clients.”

Once you find a call center that serves your direct needs, be sure to do a background check. You may need to ask for references, or seek additional information to qualify a particular call center operation. In retrospective, you may have wished you did this background check first. In sales, you will cross paths with some less-than-honest characters. Speaking to current clientele and asking for reference will make a whirlwind of difference.

An alternative for proving track records may include finding and hiring competitor call centers. Servicing competitors, they have familiarity with your demographic and know your industry. Interview them. Find out if they can take on additional workloads and if enough representatives are available to staff your current needs.  

“3. Verify that they have the right people and resources to handle your customer service and support.”

Seek additional information about the representatives soon to live your brand. Learn which qualifications align with your company’s ethics, morals and brand image. Are they qualified to handle key workloads, technologies and systems on your behalf? Can they articulate your products and services line in detail? And, do they have proper demonstration skills?

“4. Make sure contact center data can integrate with your CRM solution.”

It is extremely important that contact centers can manage your customer database efficiently. Support systems allow continued business and lead to successful outcomes, starting with the service a customer receives at their most vulnerable moment. The call center can make or break business for future customer bases, based on their method of doing business.

Sirisena, Co-Founder at Vesess, a provider of online business strategy and web design states, “Support is a main pillar of a successful business, and if the contact center can seamlessly integrate customer support data into your CRM, you will gain a more complete understanding of your customers, their pain points and their specific requirements.”

“5. And don’t forget about social media integration.”

“DMG Consulting predicts that within the next few years social interactions with companies will equal phone interactions and 70 to 80 percent of them will be service-oriented,” says Meeten Bhavsar, Group Vice President of Oracle Service Cloud.

Unanswered messages on social media can trigger a switch to competitor brands, while taking other unsatisfied customers with them. Negative, public reactions to a brand can cause negative impression on potential new customers, damaging the brand’s reputation beyond repair. Keeping customer service agents on social media will allow retention of current customer bases and encourage new customer acceptance of the brand.

“6. Be strategic about location.”

Many companies seek to keep budgets low, willingly overlooking this step.  They will miss out. Hire local call centers to service the local landscape through familiar language and behavior. A team of localized individuals will better serve the immediate region. Differences in language and behavior may cause confusion for all involved, especially through use of slang and idiom, used win every day conversation.

“7. Discuss policies and procedures as well as security and privacy measures.”

Communication is vital. Discuss standard operating procedures and how events will take place on a day-to-day basis. Be part of the planning and documentation process. Be sure to plan disasters and recovery initatives, during worse case scenarios. Institute process improvements to and prioritization strategies in unifying outsourced and internal project teams.

“8. Know what and how you will be charged.”

Don’t be stuck in an undesirable contract. Know what’s on that contract, and don’t let anyone fast talk you. Understand how much you will be charged for service and when. Understand what is included at the price you are paying. Understand the length of the contract and how to get out of it, if necessary.

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