So you’ve decided that the benefits of outsourcing your call centre needs outweigh trying to do it all yourself. An excellent decision! It’s an important choice, regardless of your company’s size or whether your new partner is taking calls 24/7 or is an extension to your existing call centre for overflow and after hours work. This company is going to be the voice to your customers; implementation ties up resources, and switching after a bad decision is painful.
So what’s next? In the call centre world, the old cliché, “you get what you pay for” is very true. Quality customer service is not cheap to deliver. To help you evaluate the proposals in front of you, here are a few items worth considering or asking your potential call centre solution providers about.
If quality is important to you, then considering what certifications your potential call centre has should be high on your list. There are few international certifications that can tell a lot about the quality of service delivery including Six Sigma and ISO 9001:2008 quality management certification. With the initial and ongoing investment in the certification process, only those truly dedicated to quality get these stamps. For example, every year an independent firm performs an audit of ISO practices to ensure compliance with the standards of quality continuous improvement. Another emerging certification, Six Sigma, uses a set quality management process to improve the quality output of process by identifying and removing the causes of errors. It involves learning the appropriate subject matter, passing a written proficiency test and displaying competency in a hands-on environment.
Customer Satisfaction Results
When outsourcing, one of your goals may be to improve your overall customer satisfaction. So choosing a provider who measures their own, and has a record to be proud of, will help you achieve your goals. An emerging industry measurement is the Net Promoter Score, or NPS, a standard benchmark that global companies are adopting. Ask your potential providers if they measure their customer satisfaction, and if so how. A call centre provider that has a NPS of above 65% is considered to be a good and reliable provider.
Does the call centre you’re considering have a track record of measuring itself against industry standards? There are several associations that provide mystery caller type programs to call centres so they can constantly test themselves, ensuring ongoing quality service delivery. Those call centres that subscribe take quality seriously, and should be at the top of your list. Call Centre associations such as CAM-X and ATSI are two examples of organizations that test and award call centres based on strict measurements of the quality of each call.
Ask about their workforce. A high turnover rate often can signal a problem with internal culture that will likely result in poor service to you and your customers, as the call centre is in a constant state of training new agents. Asking your potential providers if they measure their employee satisfaction and what their employee turnover rate is a great way to determine what’s going on culturally inside their organization. Checking out their Facebook page will also give you some insight into their culture!
Most websites will show client testimonials, but if your contract is significant, and there’s a lot at stake, you may also want to check their references. You wouldn’t hire an employee without checking his or her references, so the same applies to hiring a call centre. Quality call centres will have long-term clients who will happily sing their praises. Talk to a couple of them, so you will know what to expect with your new partner.
Consider a Test Drive
Can you start with a small portion of your business first, before outsourcing the entire suite of customer service requirements? Many clients start with a basic reception or telephone answering service first to “date” before getting serious. If this works well then you can move forward with more complex business processes such as order taking, dealer locate, Tier 1 technical support, or employee check in lines.
How long have they been in business and how much experience do they have in your industry. It’s easy enough to set up a bank of phones in a basement and call yourself a “call centre.” How long the company has been around is an indication of how well they’ve listened to and evolved with their customers. Experienced call centres will have deep industry knowledge as a result of working with similar companies as well as a proven track record with complex scripts. They will also have an easy to understand training methodology. All these criteria show maturity in a centres processes.
If you’re looking for specialized services such as Emergency Response, or disaster recovery, make sure they’ve got a track record in this critical area, and ask for case studies or examples.
Is the Size Right?
Depending on the size and scope of your project, there are several considerations. Is the call centre large enough to handle the traffic? Do they have the ability to scale if necessary? Conversely, large centres may not give more modest projects the attention they deserve, preferring to specialize in work that requires dozens if not hundreds of dedicated agents. Finding the size of call centre that will give your account the attention it deserves is critical. Many telephone answering services that have grown into full service call centres specialize in and welcome accounts that can have very low volumes all the way up to many dozens of dedicated agents. Asking about their existing customer mix will give you a good idea as to where you will fit in to their priorities.
Set up process
Does the company have tools and templates to help you get started? Any call centre worth its salt will have implemented hundreds of customers. You should be able to benefit from this experience by accessing best practices and templates rather than having to create your account script and process from scratch.
Analytics and insight
As the voice and ears of your business, an answering service collects so much data about your customers and operations. Presenting this information to you in a way that helps you spot trends and make critical decisions to optimize your business is key. Ask about what reports are included in the standard fees and what services are provided to help you analyze them.
When you have a complaint or need to make a change to your account, what is the process to follow? Is support available 24/7? Is there a customer support ticketing system in place to ensure your request is tracked and handled appropriately?
And last but not least, a word on Price! There are many different pricing models available, but a couple worth noting: “Per minute” of agent time, is often used in a shared call centre or telephone answering service environment, when the volumes don’t warrant dedicated agents and the calls will be answered by a team of specialists. “Per hour” is used when you’re paying for a dedicated agent to take your calls exclusively, generally for larger accounts where thorough product and company knowledge is required and the volume of calls is substantial enough to warrant it. Often we see a blended model, where dedicated agents are used during regular business hours, and the shared agent pool is used for overnight and weekend coverage.
Outsourcing your contact centre operations and trusting someone new with your customers is a big decision to make. We hope this list will help you with the process. Good luck!
How Telelink Can Help
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