Many companies believe the only way to ensure exceptional customer experiences is to handle all call center processes in-house. And it is convenient if you already have a team in place ready to handle all of your needs. But a growing number of organizations are beginning to recognize the value of call center outsourcing. In fact, the call center outsourcing market is poised to grow by $14.05 billion USD between 2021 and 2025—that’s an over 3% CAGR—and for a good reason.
So, let’s talk about call center outsourcing: what it is, the pros and cons for your business, and how to develop a successful partnership.
Call center outsourcing is an umbrella term for hiring an outside company to manage your call center operations and customer service. This third-party vendor can be offshore in another country or domestic. You might only outsource specific tasks and responsibilities or hire an outsourcer to take over everything. It all depends on your needs and wants.
The key to call center outsourcing is you don’t have to invest in the facilities, equipment, technology, or human resources. Instead, the third-party contact center manages all necessary operations as your specialist. This can help you save money and resources, all while reducing frustration and simplifying internal processes.
In fact, as long as you don’t spend more time and money managing your outsourced call center than you do on your core business tasks, it can be highly beneficial.
Internal call centers are labor-intensive. There’s continuous agent recruiting, hiring, and training—large call centers have a 44% turnover rate. In addition, there are facility and infrastructure costs, including computers, workstations, internet, state-of-the-art tools, and software. An outsourced call center absorbs these costs for a contract fee that is often less than what it would cost to set up the entire system internally.
As call volumes increase and customer expectations grow, call centers are getting busier and busier. A third-party call center has the experience and resources necessary to meet your rapidly changing needs, including 24-hour service, off-hours service, or additional agents during peak times.
56% of call centers plan to invest in AI, 33% invest in process automation, and 31% use video chat. Outsourced call centers invest in many necessary tools and software for data collection and analysis, QA, customer support, and omnichannel customer support. They do so in order to meet the varied needs of their clients. These tools can often be too cost-prohibitive for an in-house call center.
Agents that are exclusively dedicated to answering calls provide better experiences. But many times, in-house call center agents are required to pull double duty with other vital functions. But outsourced call centers are dedicated to their work and have agents trained to handle anything that’s thrown at them. Their knowledge and skills provide top-tier service in the call center space.
Running a successful call center requires specific knowledge and skills to take care of your customers. An outsourced call center provider will offer valuable insights and proven strategies from years of experience. Plus, outsourced call centers can often offer extras such as multi-lingual support that may be difficult to offer in-house.
Third-party call centers have the tools, processes, and teams in place to record all calls, review performance, and make adjustments as needed. Their daily, weekly, and monthly reporting are typically up to the task of ensuring quality at every step.
But just like with any solution, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. If you choose the wrong partnership for your outsourcing, it could lead to significantly poorer customer service and an exodus of your once loyal customers. So what are some of the greatest challenges of call center outsourcing?
You need to ensure that any outsourcer has the systems and procedures in place to maintain data security and privacy at the highest level. They should have business continuity plans and backup systems, plus follow compliance rules such as SOC II, PCI, ISO, and beyond. These standards must be maintained vigilantly.
When you outsource, you need to define your contract scope and ensure the vendor sticks to it. Be sure to include a plan for scaling operations and increasing the scope as needed. The contract and SOW (Statement of Work) should be extensive but also flexible.
Outsourced call centers rarely specialize in a specific industry, and even if they do, they are still not specialists in your company. If your call center agents require special knowledge about your technology, services, or products to serve your customers, outsourcing can be a struggle without additional training.
So how do you keep your clients happy by maintaining—or even improving—the customer experience with call center outsourcing? Choose the right call center partner. Here are a few questions to ask to get you started.
Some companies want the contact center to be local to their geography, others just want it domiciled in the United States, and still, others look overseas in an effort to minimize costs. Consider whether the outsourced agents will need local knowledge and reference points to do their jobs and whether perfect American English is important to your customers.
Match your outsourcer’s corporate culture to your own. You have a “brand,” and it is important that it be maintained in your outsourced call center operations.
Outline the level of communication and oversight you require. When you enter negotiations with an outsourcer, make sure all your requirements are laid out in a formal written contract.
Someone who is an employee of the company needs to be responsible for oversight. One way to maintain quality standards is to establish clear benchmarks for the third-party vendor to meet. Then, you can verify that your standards are met both by providing a scorecard and using a monitoring service.
When you outsource customer service to an external service provider, you put a vital business function in their hands. Because you cannot watch them as closely, having performance metrics can keep this function operating smoothly. Always have a way to monitor the service and intervene if the outsource does not meet quality metrics.
Ultimately, there are many reasons for call center outsourcing. And if done correctly, you and your customers will be happy with the results.
Looking for a more comprehensive guide on how a call center can enhance your customer service experience? Check out "Customer Service as a Differentiator: The Call Center Guide."