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    How-to-Outsource-Your-Call-Center-9-Ways-to-Do-It-Right

    How to Outsource Your Call Center: 9 Ways to Do It Right

    Outsourcing your call center can be stressful, with concerns over a drop in customer service quality, culture clashes, high costs, and finding an ethical vendor. But in most cases, contact center outsourcing does more good than bad—it’s cost-efficient, offers highly skilled agents, and can bring your business to the global stage.

    In this article, we’ll show you some of our best tips for call center outsourcing, from figuring out what your business needs to negotiating a solid contract. Then, we’ll show you how to make the transition process as smooth as possible and how you can manage common concerns around outsourcing.

    Determining your call center’s outsourcing needs

    In our increasingly customer-focused world, delivering top-notch service is crucial. In response, outsourcing call centers has become a way for businesses to significantly enhance their customer service.

    But determining if you should outsource your call center services is not an easy decision, with many factors coming into play. Before jumping into call center outsourcing, let’s explore some of the key considerations you should make.

    Assess your current call center performance

    Looking at your current performance before deciding to outsource is essential. Focusing on crucial key performance metrics (KPIs) can help paint a picture of the overall health of your call center. Here are three important KPIs to monitor:

    • First Call Resolution (FCR): This metric tells you how often your agents resolve customer issues on the first call. Having a higher FCR usually indicates better customer satisfaction and efficiency.
    • Average Handle Time (AHT): It’s the average time it takes for an agent to handle a call, including time spent on hold and working on the issue after the call. This metric can indicate a healthy call volume, or may show that you need to make changes.
    • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): This measures customer satisfaction levels. It’s the ultimate indicator of how your call center performs in terms of customer service—low scores indicate severe issues with your operations, while high scores mean smooth sailing.

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    Identifying what to improve

    Once you’ve assessed the current performance of your call center, it’s time to identify what needs improvement. This is where measuring KPIs matters, as it will show you areas that need improvement and guide you on common solutions.

    If your FCR is lacking, for example, you may need to focus on further training for your agents. Or, if your AHT is too high, it may be time to consider new technologies to help streamline your workflows. 

    Setting clear goals with KPIs and metrics

    Considering these metrics can help you weigh the pros and cons of call center outsourcing or investing in your existing teams. Setting clear goals for your current teams can better illustrate your in-house team's needs.

    On the other hand, if your teams can’t reach these goals—whether it’s because of staffing, technological limits, or anything else—it may be time to consider contact center outsourcing as a more cost-effective solution.

    Managing your expectations

    Outsourcing your call center isn’t an overnight solution. It requires time, investment, and a lot of coordination between your in-house and outsourced teams.

    Being realistic with your expectations and planning for growing pains as things fall into place can lead to a much smoother transition and better outcomes in the end.

    What’s the difference between in-house and outsourced call centers?

    When managing your call center, one of the most critical decisions is between keeping operations in-house or outsourcing.

    An in-house call center gives you the closest control over every interaction and process. It allows for real-time oversight, meaning you can directly affect outcomes and implement changes. However, in-house operations may come with higher costs due to infrastructure, technology, and personnel requirements. 

    On the other hand, there are three common options for call center outsourcing, each with its caveats and things to consider:

    • Onshore Outsourcing: This involves outsourcing your call center operations to a provider within your own country. It offers easier coordination due to shared time zones and culture, reducing the chance for potential cultural barriers. However, it can be a more expensive option due to higher labor costs in many countries.
    • Nearshore Outsourcing: Nearshore is similar to onshore outsourcing, but instead of being in your home country, it’s often in a neighboring country or region. It’s the best balance between the two options, keeping things even between cost-efficiency and cultural similarity while sharing some time zone overlap.
    • Offshore Outsourcing: With offshore outsourcing, you contract your call center operations to a vendor based overseas, generally in a country with lower labor costs. This can make a significant difference in your budget, but it comes with the challenges of potential cultural clashing, different time zones, and communication differences that can impact service quality.

    There's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to call center operations. Whether you choose an in-house call center or one of the outsourcing options depends on your specific needs, goals, and resources. Understand your priorities, evaluate your options, and you'll be on your way to creating a call center that best serves your customers and your business.

    How to find the right outsourcing partner

    Selecting the right outsourcing partner for your call center is not just a business decision—it’s a strategic move that can shape your entire customer experience.

    Start this process by identifying your core needs, whether cost-efficiency, enhancing service quality, or other issues unique to your business. This will help shape your evaluation criteria, which you can weigh alongside vendor information like expertise, cultural alignment, and scalability.

    Once you’ve determined your criteria, it’s time for some market research. Look for outsourcing vendors specializing in your industry, read their customer reviews, testimonials, and any information you can find. While online channels can be handy, don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues who may be able to provide firsthand feedback.

    The final step is to initiate a request for proposal (RFP) and do your due diligence. With this, you’ll verify a potential partner’s credentials, reputation, and stability. Look into their team's strengths, qualifications, technology, and approach to data security. This will help you pick a vendor that is the right fit for your business and your customers.

    How to negotiate contracts and Service Level Agreements

    Negotiating contracts and service level agreements (SLAs) are pivotal steps in outsourcing your call center. This process creates a roadmap for your future partnership and sets mutual expectations. Well-defined contracts and solid SLAs can significantly impact your call center, ensuring it runs smoothly and profitably.

    As you draft your contract and SLAs, there are certain aspects you should keep in mind, such as:

    • Scope: Clearly define the services your partner will provide, expectations, and limitations.
    • Pricing: Establish a mutually agreed upon pricing model. It should accommodate your budget and the level of service your business needs.
    • Performance Metrics: Defining metrics and KPIs for your partner can shape the entire evaluation process. You should look to other vendors if they cannot meet these metrics. You should also factor these metrics into your SLAs to ensure they meet your needs.
    • Data Security: Consider data handling, confidentiality, and security protocols to ensure your customer’s information remains safe and complies with industry regulations.

    It’s also important to consider contingency plans and escalation procedures. Your contract should detail steps to manage unforeseen issues that might disrupt services, such as national disasters or power outages. A well-framed contingency plan can get you back on track with minimal downtime in an emergency.

    Finally, it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with your vendor. Once you sign an agreement, frequent communication, transparency, and flexibility can contribute significantly to a successful partnership. Maintain that communication between you and your vendor, and you’ll both succeed.

    9 tips for moving your call center from in-house to outsourced

    Make a gradual transition

    Start by outsourcing a small portion of your operations and assess the results before a full transition. This will help you spot potential issues early and fine-tune your strategy.

    Prepare in advance

    Develop a detailed plan covering goals, timelines, and budgets. This will help you stay on track and ensure all parties understand the requirements and expectations.

    Prioritize knowledge transfer and training

    Ensure your outsourced team is well-versed in your business and its products, services, and company culture. Share any essential information they need, and invest in training sessions as needed.

    Transfer your brand identity

    Your brand and tone should be consistent throughout every point of customer interaction. It’s crucial to convey your brand identity to your outsourcing partner so they can maintain it.

    Monitor the initial stages

    Keep a close eye on the initial stages of the transition. This will enable you to identify problems early on and apply necessary improvements or changes.

    Install a robust quality assurance process

    Quality assurance is key to the success of your call center operations. Implement a solid approach that includes monitoring, evaluations, feedback, and coaching to ensure consistency and high-quality customer support.

    Keep open lines of communication

    Stay in touch with your outsourcing partner regularly to discuss progress, challenges, and share updates. This can help you maintain efficiency and foster a strong relationship to ensure long-term success.

    Consider keeping some aspects in-house

    You may decide that some functions, like high-stakes or sensitive calls, should remain in-house. Analyze your call center operations to determine which elements should stay in-house and which to outsource.

    Be ready to adjust your approach

    Change is a natural part of the transition process. Be prepared to make adjustments as needed and maintain a flexible mindset during the initial stages of call center outsourcing.

    Dramatically improve operational efficiency

    How to ensure data security and compliance when outsourcing

    Maintaining data security and compliance is critical to keeping your customers—and your data—safe. Whether it’s GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, or any other industry-specific regulations, your outsourcing vendor must understand and comply with them.

    To do so, you’ll need to establish data protection measures that are both concrete and adaptable. Data encryption, robust IT security, and regular audits are non-negotiables.

    Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that all staff are properly trained on data security awareness, both in-house and outsourced personnel. Regular training and updates on data handling procedures can help solidify these standards across the board.

    What about customer experience and satisfaction?

    If you clearly communicate your company’s ethos, values, and customer commitment to your outsourcing partner, you can build a strong foundation for an excellent customer experience. From there, you can leverage your QA software to drive in-depth training sessions and offer feedback to ensure call center agents are informed and can uphold your standards. 

    But it’s not enough to rely solely on training. You’ll need to monitor and analyze important customer service metrics—like CSAT scores—to understand how your outsourced call center performs. Find the causes that impact the customer experience, address them head-on, and remain flexible when finding solutions to some issues.

    Overcoming common challenges in call center outsourcing

    Like any strategic shift, there will always be some hurdles you may have to overcome to find success in the end. Outsourcing is no different, with its own list of unique issues you may need to handle, such as:

    • Language and cultural barriers: Differences in language and culture can lead to miscommunication and potentially affect customer engagement. An easy fix for this is to look for vendors that offer multilingual services, and offer training sessions to better understand your customer base.
    • Time zone differences: Outsourcing often involves teams from all across the globe, which means you may have teams in completely different time zones than your customers. Instead of trying to fit within their time frame, outsourcing enables you to offer 24/7 support to your customers.
    • Managing remote teams effectively: Using effective project management tools, monitoring KPIs and metrics, and keeping an open line of communication can all make a significant impact on your remote teams.
    • Data privacy risks: Implementing robust data security standards in your contract and SLAs, alongside regular audits, help you keep your partner compliant with any regulations.
    • Loss of control: Handing over your call center operations may feel like you lose complete control, but if you maintain constant communication, you’ll be able to monitor and provide feedback as needed.
    • Vendor issues: Issues can arise when dealing with third parties, such as your vendor's reliability, stability, and performance. Conducting thorough due diligence before selecting your vendor can prevent these issues, as well as having a back-up plan just in case.

    Are there any ethical considerations with call center outsourcing?

    Contact center outsourcing is more than just cost-efficiency and optimizing workflows; ethical considerations must also be made.

    It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure that fair labor practices are followed, such as being paid liveable wages, working in suitable conditions, and having access to benefits. You’re not just outsourcing tasks; you’re engaging real people who deserve respect and dignity.

    Ensuring your outsourcing partner adheres to the highest ethical standards and keeps employee satisfaction in mind. Your due diligence should help indicate how your chosen vendor values their employees, and your choice of vendor will reflect on your business, so it’s important to choose wisely.

    Conclusion

    Call center outsourcing can bring significant benefits to your business, but it demands careful planning, diligent execution, and a focus on your customers and employees.

    When you take the time to research not only your business but potential vendors, you can dramatically improve your customer service and find success for your call center.

    And one of the best ways to ensure your transition goes as smoothly as possible is with great QA software like Scorebuddy. Discover how we help improve customer experience today. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.

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      FAQ for How to Outsource Your Call Center: 9 Ways to Do It Right

      FAQ

      How do I know if outsourcing is right for my call center?

      Deciding to outsource depends on your business needs and what your goals are for your call center. You may benefit from call center outsourcing if you’re facing fast growth, a lack of customer service expertise, limited resources, or high operational costs.

      How can I measure the success of my outsourced call center?

      There are several ways to measure the success of your call center, each showing different aspects of your business:

      Defining goals and expectations can ensure your call center has a clear baseline to work towards.


      Monitoring KPIs can highlight issues in the call center or areas for improvement.


      Built-in feedback mechanisms help highlight pain points in the customer experience.


      Conducting regular reviews can help ensure your vendor meets your SLAs.