By Joel Sylvester, Chief Marketing Officer, Five Star Call Centers
Finding the right contact center outsourcer isn’t easy. After all, no one knows your business the way you do. But it’s important to remember that not all contact centers are created equal. Once known as call center outsourcers, contact center outsourcers – or contact center BPO’s – now handle a full spectrum of communication channels beyond voice, including email, text, social media, and everything in between.
What is a BPO Contact Center?
BPO is short for business process outsourcing. Essentially a fancy term for third-party companies that handle any operations on behalf of a company. Today, bpo contact center and contact center outsourcing are often used interchangeably.
A contact center BPO is a third-party that supports communications for another business or organization. This may include answering inbound phone calls, emails, texts, or social media inquires as well as performing outbound communications. Common contact center services include sales, customer service support, product support, and collections.
Why do companies outsource their contact centers?
Companies outsource with a contact center for several reasons. Two of the most common come down to efficiency with time and budget. Contact center outsourcers are experts in their field. Not only for providing services for their clients but in hiring teams that can support around the clock service – if needed – on behalf of companies. This type of hiring and training can become very expensive for companies to do on their own.
Companies are great at performing their core business; manufacturing a product or marketing a product or being innovators in their space. That is their passion and focus. With their primary focus elsewhere, a contact center can become a distraction and sometimes, a burden to both productively and the company’s bottom line. When a business decides to outsource with a contact center, it gives them the ability to focus on their core business and leave the contact center function to the experts.
How can outsourcing with a contact center improve efficiencies?
Three key efficiencies gained when a business chooses to outsource with a contact center are employee scale, technology, and measurement.
If your company has an internal contact center with five or six team members, the law of averages is going to say someone will be out sick, PTO will be scheduled, or someone’s going to have something come up last minute. This makes it really difficult to fully staff to meet your needs. Where, when you outsource with a contact center, they’ll have hundreds if not thousands of team members, so you can take advantage of that scale.
Technology is expensive. Plain and simple. Investing in the right hardware and software for a contact center may be out of reach for companies on their own. The buying power of contact center outsourcers means they can provide more for less.
Metrics, KPIs – contact center outsourcers measure everything. Outsourcers generally understand that what gets measured is what gets done. And things get measured – all the way down to conversion rate, first call resolution, customer satisfaction scores, net promoter scores, average speed of answer, handle time. Everything across the board can be measured and used to drive that efficiency to make sure calls are getting handled quickly, answered quickly, and handled in the right way by the right team members.
What is the most important part of finding the right contact center outsourcer?
It comes down to a common culture and values between the company and the contact center outsourcer. There are a lot of great contact centers out there and all of them have their own beliefs and objectives they are good at executing. When you are meeting with contact center outsourcers, make sure your organizations share common beliefs.
Contact center technology is relatively similar across the board. A lot of the strategies are similar across the board. But it does come down to having the right cultural fit that’s a match with your organization.
What should businesses ask a contact center outsourcer?
Get references, check references, and speak with references. If you are a manufacturer, a software company, a technology company, or a financial services company, talk to people within your industry and get an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work when you outsource with a contact center.
Ask for success stories and then failures. Every company has things that go wrong. What they learned from them, and how did they handle it, is great information to have in hand when meeting with potential contact center outsources.
Ask questions about the culture of the contact center to make sure the two companies are a fit. Make sure the contact center outsourcer has the same beliefs and values that your company does. Find out what drives success and how are failures are addressed.
What are the steps to finding a contact center outsourcer to fit your business?
Let’s be honest. There are a ton of different contact center outsourcers out there. Before you even go searching for an outsourcer, sit down and identify what the goals are for your company. Understand what you are looking to accomplish – whether it is cost savings, improved service, or gaining an understanding of the industry best practices – if you know what you are looking for in an outsourcer it will help you search for who is the right fit. I recommend asking yourself these initial questions:
- Are you looking for on-shore, or US-based?
- Are you looking for near-shore, for off-shore?
- What percentage of your work needs to be done, or can be done, through technology?
- What percentage is inbound?
- What percentage is outbound?
- What percentage is maybe order entry or basic versus tiered 2, tier 3, tier 4, tier 5?
These are items you will want to define for your company so you can begin to find the right contact center outsourcer to meet your needs.
What unique insight does a contact center bring to the table?
No outsourcer is going to understand 100% of your business. They do not live within your industry solely 24/7/365. That’s not a bad thing. An outsourcer is going to look at your processes differently. It’s not uncommon to hear them ask “Why are things done this way?” Or, “We’ve done it this way and it worked well. Is that something you would be interested in?”
This is the part of the process that starts getting fun. You can start building a value proposition when you take your industry expertise and combine that with a contact center outsourcer with expertise in their industry. You can figure out a way to build something new and unique to serve your customers.
About the Author - Joel Sylvester
Joel’s career spans hundreds of companies and helping each enhance their customer experience. He has recruited, trained, and coached award-winning customer services teams across the globe in industries spanning retail, finance, product support, healthcare, hospitality and more. Today, Joel serves as partner and chief sales and marketing officer for Five Star Call Centers, an outsourcing call center with five locations based in the Midwest.