What is call center outsourcing? Call center outsourcing specifically refers to the contracting of call center operations and services to a third-party service provider.
Business process outsourcing (BPO), meanwhile, is the more general term, encapsulating the outsourcing of a variety of different operations to another provider.
Depending on the needs of the business, entire departments can be outsourced to external providers, or they can be merely supplemented with the help of the additional workforce. Call centers are one of the most popular forms of BPO, and they vary greatly in the services they can provide, their pricing structure, and the ease with which they function alongside your core business.
The goal of outsourcing parts of a business is to increase operational efficiency while decreasing costs, but the process of getting to that point can be cumbersome if you’re new to BPO. In this article, we will explore what call center outsourcing is, how it works, its benefits for businesses, and how your company can get started with it.
Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a business strategy where companies hire call center service providers to handle certain call-related tasks in their organization. It involves the transfer of call-related operations, such as customer support and telemarketing, from an internal department to an external call center services provider.
This strategic move allows businesses to focus on their core competencies while achieving cost savings at the same time. Many companies decide to outsource their call center operations to save on the expenses of hiring and training call center agents.
There are several key benefits to outsourcing that keep companies all over the world leveraging outside workforces.
By contracting out this work, companies lower costs by paying only for the services that they need. In addition, there are often economies of scale when it comes to outsourcing, meaning the suppliers can offer better prices as their volume increases. Small businesses can also realize savings by eliminating the staffing of in-house teams.
By outsourcing to a call center, companies leverage a call center's years of experience, ability to hire top talent, and top-notch quality assurance. They also gain access to call centers with state-of-the-art technology designed to help improve customer experience and customer satisfaction.
Outsourcing call center operations allows companies to focus their time and resources on the tasks that are critical for long-term success. They have time to improve internal processes, develop new products or services, or expand into new markets.
Many call centers experience a 30-40% employee turnover rate each year, largely due to the high pressure and demanding work environment of call centers. Continuously hiring new employees can be difficult if you handle customer service in-house. Outsourcing doesn't only remove the overall customer service process from your daily responsibilities, it also hands off customer service rep hiring and firing responsibilities and helps save on the cost of employee turnover.
If you have clients all over the world, you can use outsourcing solutions based in their local areas. Though your hours of operation may end, customers can still reach support through outsourcing operations in real time.
Utilizing local outsourcing means connecting with your customers in their native language to reduce confusion and make transactions easier for everyone. There are a wealth of native English speakers in popular outsourcing locations such as the Philippines and South Africa. Meanwhile, multi-lingual call center representatives in countries like Colombia and Argentina provide smooth communication and ensure a strong customer relationship.
When taking on outsourcing efforts yourself, finding a partner and establishing a relationship is tedious. Though there are only four primary steps, each one involves a lot of research, trial, and error.
Business leaders who put their trust in call center outsourcing experts maintain control of partner selection without having to juggle all the time-consuming processes that normally go into it.
Step 1: Business owners decide to involve third-party support and look for providers to whom they can outsource specific tasks or entire departments. Working with the experts at TDSGS means we take the time to identify your needs and match you with the perfect partner. Needs-matching includes areas such as:
Step 2: The call center service provider offers a proposal based on the inquiring business’s needs. There’s plenty of opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of what services the call center provides.
Step 3: If they decide to move forward, the call center service provider will send the business an agreement for signature.
Step 4: Once the agreement is signed, work begins on transitioning call operations over to the call center service provider. This process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the company's operation.
There are a few other important items to understand about the outsourcing process…
Many globally recognized companies outsource their call center operations, including such big names as Apple, AT&T, Walmart, and Cisco.
These companies have seen long-term success in their outsourced partnerships. Apple started their outsourced operations more than three decades ago and continues to benefit from the cost savings and customer service support. AT&T, meanwhile, has grown its call center operations to now employ thousands of agents in countries around the world.
If you’re looking into BPO outsourcing, know you’ll be in good company, as there are hundreds of other well-known companies that incorporate outsourcing as a main part of their strategic business plan.
Several industries use call center outsourcing to help with their customer service and customer acquisition needs. Typically, call centers rely on either inbound or outbound calling to accomplish the identified business goals.
Inbound call centers focus on answering customers’ phone calls and providing customer support or technical help. Outbound call centers, on the other hand, are often focused on lead generation efforts to source new customers.
Both inbound and outbound call centers provide valuable BPO services for the businesses they represent. Included here is just a small idea of different services that call centers can provide.
Marketing call centers are often used for lead generation. They employ cold calling telemarketing methods to increase sales by reaching out directly to potential customers on behalf of their clients.
Via outbound call center services, agents can offer free consultations via an appointment-setting sales funnel. The process may also involve reaching out on social media.
Call center outsourcing services can also help with customer retention. Agents can call current customers to check on their satisfaction and see if there's anything they need. They may also call previous customers and try to convince them to become repeat buyers.
Using an inbound call center, tech support agents help with technical issues like computer repairs, virus removals, or software updates. They may also provide IT technical support services such as network upgrades. Or, the IT help desks may help with training on new systems or equipment installations.
These call centers often work with businesses in various industries from healthcare providers to retail stores.
Customer support call centers handle inbound calls regarding complaints, product returns, warranty information requests, billing questions, or other important issues. These call centers work with companies in all industries and have technical knowledge about the products or services that they're working for.
Often, this type of outsourcing customer service uses an omnichannel process. The customer support team will handle customer needs via different channels, which might include the following:
Many industries can benefit from call center outsourcing. Services that agents can provide for each industry include:
We’ll look at four main steps involved with getting started. Keep in mind that these steps can be largely alleviated by working with a partner like TDS Global Solutions. However, you’ll still want to make sure you’re set up for success to benefit most from a BPO relationship.
Identifying and developing the processes that your call center partners should use starts with identifying the final goal for why you're entering the outsourcing process. Let that ideal end result guide you through the rest of the tasks and workflows that would need to happen to get to that end goal.
An easy way to do this is to create a process map that outlines the specific business needs and steps to take. Start at the bottom of a sheet of paper and write down your ideal end goal. Above that, start filling in major (and minor) steps that goal will require. Be sure to also include who is responsible for each step, what's needed to complete the task, and when it needs to get done.
It’s also helpful to establish service level agreements for important metrics such as average call handling time or first call resolution rates.
Finding the right partner is almost like matchmaking; you have to find the perfect fit that will complement your business’s needs and values.
Some companies may only require inbound customer support or outbound sales services. Others may need a more blended offering that merges both inbound and outbound interactions with clients/prospects.
You’ll also need to consider the placement of your call center. This will largely be influenced by budget, linguistic, and time zone preferences.
Whether you’re hiring a full-time employee or bringing an outsourced partner on board, you should always yourself whether this entity can fit well into your company's culture. Look for major cultural differences with each potential call center partner, as these could present problems if not addressed before signing the contract. Ideally, your customers should feel as though they're dealing with your company on every phone call.
Here are some general questions to ask when researching and interviewing potential outsourcing companies.
Stay on the lookout for any issues that reveal how you and your outsourcing partner could conflict from a company culture perspective.
Help your new partners get started on the right foot by providing the tools necessary to do the job, and give them time to learn how to use them.
Provide your new partners everything they’ll need in their day-to-day tasks. This includes CRM software, contact information, scripts, and training materials.
Be sure to take the time up front to provide clear expectations regarding agent goals and quarterly objectives. Call center employees can only be good partners when they have a clear set of goals to work towards.
After an initial training, start with a soft launch where you have some call traffic going to the call center but not all of it. This gives your partner time to work out kinks before getting hit with full call volume.
Monitor progress closely in the early stages of call center outsourcing. CRM and other center technologies allow business managers to monitor agent performance from afar, allowing you to identify any initial confusion early and provide feedback, then follow-up to ensure the problem doesn’t last.
Over time, you can eventually step back and allow the call center to do the job it was hired to do. Allow your new partners to make changes and improvements to their processes without micromanaging them. Trust is key in any outsourcing relationship.
Once your partnership is fully up and running, keep an eye on agent KPIs. Be sure your on-site management team is evaluating agent performance and providing ongoing training. Trust your partner to manage the day-to-day operations, but be available to step in and help troubleshoot any continued questions or workflow problems that may arise. Many teams check in with each other weekly or biweekly, and hold monthly or quarterly reviews to discuss successes and challenges from the previous period.
Outsourcing your call center gives you a great way to improve customer service and take some of the load off your in-house team. By following the above step hus, you can make sure the process goes smoothly.
It's possible that you still have questions and want more specific help. If that's the case, then consider contacting us at TDS Global Solutions. We'll help you identify the call center locations that would work best for your company. As well, we can help you locate and select the correct outsourcing partner and help you start the relationship properly.