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Questions To Ask When Outsourcing a Call Center

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Outsourcing phone-based sales and telemarketing has long been a popular route, and it continues to grow. In fact, based on an in-depth analysis of call center trends, the remote contact center market is projected to increase by $14.05 billion from 2021 to 2025.

And what’s driving the growth? Well, likely cost savings, customer demand for highly-skilled customer service teams, and small business staff support. Partnering with an outsourcing business, especially one with agents trained in specific industries, empowers companies to position themselves for growth and higher profit margins while reducing operating costs.

One of the primary advantages for businesses that choose to outsource routine administrative tasks is the ability to implement cost-effective solutions that reduce work for the in-house team. When work can be done remotely, internal staff have more time to focus on building relationships that generate more revenue. But of course, there are multiple positives of bringing in third-party help—along with a handful of possible negatives, if not handled correctly.

Pros & Cons of Outsourcing a Call Center

Weighing the pros and cons of outsourcing a call center is all part of the process. Here are a few points for your consideration:


  • The costs are typically lower to outsource rather than having an in-house team. Research shows that companies can save between 10% and 40% by shifting call management to an off-site firm.
  • Call center outsourcing reduces recruiting, training, and other hiring costs, lowering operating expenses and hassles.
  • Companies can provide support services to staff and customers 24/7 without adding another shift or more workers.
  • Overflow calls are handled, resulting in enhanced customer experiences and faster inquiry resolution.
  • Empowers business leaders to focus on growing their businesses with fewer distractions and low-value activities.


  • Customer experiences may suffer when hiring a customer care team if adequate training isn’t provided. Be sure to provide company training materials so call center agents have the tools they need to properly represent your organization.
  • Outsourced agents in foreign countries follow different national holiday calendars and have diverse cultural norms that may impact work schedules if you’re not aware of them.
  • Not all call centers are selective in their agent hiring processes, and agents may have wide ranges of industry knowledge and/or English language ability. Be sure to work with a trusted partner, like TDS Global Solutions, who knows which call centers consistently employ high-quality service providers and call center agents.

If you do decide that call center outsourcing is right for your business, you’ll need to begin the next step of finding the right partner. Of course, finding a best-fit outsourcing partner starts with asking the right questions. Let’s dive a bit deeper...

Prepping Your Top Questions

Before you can ask the right questions, you must thoughtfully consider what you want to gain by this new partnership. Is improving customer experience a primary goal? Do you need an outsourcing company capable of scaling quickly because your call volume fluctuates based on seasonal demand? Medical providers may put accuracy at the top of their must-have lists, while other companies may value customer support and security measures over other benefits.

Once you have a list of priorities, it is critical to do some research to find the correct outsourcing company to meet your needs. Fortunately, the internet provides a great research channel. While comparing companies, you may find other topics you want to discuss with potential call center service providers.

The following questions will help you narrow down your search to businesses that can be seamlessly woven into your existing business model.

What are your agents’ areas of expertise?

An ideal call center partner has agents specializing in your industry. This is important for all businesses but especially vital for businesses in the healthcare industry. Ask what type of education or specialized training agents have. Specializations within the healthcare industry may be general, such as scheduling appointments and answering questions about operational hours, location, etc. Healthcare call center specialists should also be trained in medical terminology and HIPAA guidelines.

Whatever type of company you run, choosing an outsourcing company that understands the unique language and processes that drive your business is imperative.

What other clients do you work with? May I contact them?

One way to ensure that an off-site call center is a good fit is to ask for references or a list of clients the outsourcing firm currently works with. A company that does not provide verifiable references is a hard stop.

What are your quality assurance procedures and policy?

Your reputation in the marketplace either drives growth and prosperity or prevents you from gaining market share and maintaining an excellent reputation among your peers and clients. Ask potential partners what quality assurance procedures and policies are in place. While discussing their policies, be sure to request a standard contract for you to review. This step is necessary because having a policy is not the same as consistently enforcing Q&A standards within the remote call center.

Other topics to discuss during this part of your interview include:

  • Scheduling on-site inspections
  • Auditing and review policies
  • Third-party relationships
  • Ongoing training and professional development

How long has your center been in operation?

While it is true that every business had an opening date that made them the new kid on the block, many find that companies with at least five years of experience have begun to hit their stride in their own business processes, and in hiring and training the agents that will represent your company.

As they grow, it’s also important that outsourcing companies stay in touch with modern technology. A 2018 call center study found that approximately two-thirds of call centers surveyed were slow to adopt innovative technology, continuing to use more traditional equipment and processes. A good question to ask to determine the call center's position is “When was the last time you updated hardware and/or software?” Use the answer to this question as guidance when evaluating the length of business operations.

What call volume can be handled?

There are planned and unplanned call volume surges. The first may be an anticipated uptick in calls when a new product is launched or if call volume escalates based on the time of day or season. However, many call volume surges are unplanned. Knowing a contact center is well-staffed and agile provides peace of mind that callers always receive prompt service, irrespective of call volume levels.

What call services do you offer?

Call centers offer a variety of customized service plans. Most centers offer on-demand and scheduled services. For example, a doctor's office may only need coverage during lunch periods and after-hours. Large enterprises may require 24/7 live answering services with staff that can screen calls, take messages, and field general inquiries. More specialized centers may provide:

What do your services cost, and what are the payment terms?

Today, two-thirds of contract call centers are located within the United States boundaries. And, while there are many benefits of onshore outsourcing, prices may be higher due to higher wages. Compare well-qualified outsourcing companies to determine which payment terms and costs complement your financial goals.

What are the working hours?

For some companies, an ideal outsourcing candidate will have working hours that are the same or close to their headquarters time zone. Meanwhile, other organizations may prefer to have call center agents on standby in various time zones around the world to provide around-the-clock phone answering. Compare each outsourcing company’s working hours against your support timing needs.

Is my data safe with your outsourcing company?

Back office data security should be a priority for the off-site partners you choose. While no company can 100% guarantee safety in our cloud-based world, a well-qualified contact center will use encryption tools, multi-factor authentication protocols, and have strict agent training on confidentiality requirements for client information.

Is there a demo to see or try the outsourced services I’m interested in? Are there any example calls to listen to?

Often, reputable call center operations will offer a free demonstration or low-cost trial for companies who are considering their offerings. It’s common for large companies to start with a trial period of only a handful of agents, and if all goes well, increase to hundreds of them. 

In addition, listening to a real call center engagement provides clues about the voice and intonation call center agents use. Simply ask your contact person for a demo or call sample to get a feel for the service they provide.

Another way to get a good idea of what customers will experience is to make a couple of anonymous calls to potential service providers.

Do you track call center KPIs?

There are dozens of call center key performance metrics (KPIs). Performance metrics show details such as where a call originated and when it was complete, the time a call comes in, and which agent completed the call. Other metrics include:

  • Sales per agent
  • Call hold time
  • Lost call numbers
  • First call resolution
  • Customer effort scores
  • Average call time
  • Average call time per agent
  • Average response time

Depending on your own analytics goals, you may need this data from your call center company. Make sure to ask if they track KPIs when searching for your ideal partner company.

Can your call center software integrate with my company’s systems, or can your agents use my company’s software?

The ultimate goal of outsourcing is to develop a seamless workflow without increasing costs. Many outsourcing centers are able to integrate their software systems with your own or will allow their agents to use any software that you give access to. A fully integrated system that is compatible with existing systems is the optimal call center solution for most companies.

Do I have any involvement in selecting which agents will be assigned to my work?

Some companies may allow clients to get involved in their hiring process. For example, if you prefer not to have work-from-home agents fielding calls, the off-site firm may take this into consideration. As a rule of thumb, it is more cost-effective to let off-site partners screen, recruit, train, and monitor employee performance. You can always talk to a manager about replacing agents with less than stellar KPIs and numerous customer complaints.


The above list of questions to ask when outsourcing a call center provides a road map to finding outsourcing partners that offer all the benefits of using a remote call center service. Asking the correct questions means you understand the impact of using an off-site call center within your own time zone compared to offshore and nearshore solutions.

During your call center interviews, you gain valuable information about policies that enhance data security, protecting all stakeholders. You may also discover benefits you have not considered. For example, your company implementing an omnichannel cloud-based contact center policy may bolster employee morale, resulting in higher in-house staff retention rates. While creating your own list of questions to ask, remember that prioritizing your goals usually delivers the best outcomes.

Today is a great day to start thinking about how an outsourced call center team could help you streamline operations, gain tighter control of the budget, and support your staff and customers. Start thinking about which KPIs are most valuable to you. Then, create your own list of questions to ask. And, don't forget to request a free demo and client references!

TDS Global Solutions can handle the heavy lifting, guiding you through the process of finding the best-fit contact center for your needs, at no extra cost to you. Schedule a call with us today to get started.

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