In today’s political times, saying the word “outsourcing” feels so unpatriotic. If you’re not worried about moving money offshore, than you probably worry about risking your company’s most valuable asset, your customers, to the whims of a company you do not ultimately control. Or maybe the simple thought conjures up memories of difficult conversations you’ve had with thick accented script drones that went nowhere in a hurry. “Been there. Done that. No thanks.”
Well, outsourcing call center work is actually like a beautiful layered onion. If you buy the wrong kind of onion, or cut right into it without care or thought, it leaves you crying. However, what savory dish do onions not enhance? You need to look at outsourced call center work for the clear benefits it provides and carefully peel back the layers to develop the flavors completely.
First, realize that not all outsourcing is done offshore. There are very few companies that provide outsourced domestic and offshore services both, but they tend to be the best companies to establish relationships with. They can create a test domestically and then slowly begin testing offshore. It’s all about your ROI metrics. First, test domestically with a small number of agents. Domestic outsourcing costs between $18 and $26 per man-hour, inclusive of all costs including wages, taxes, benefits, telephony and technology. This price alone provides significant saving for most companies with their own floors. Make sure your customer service satisfaction ratings (survey scores) are the same or better than in-house.
If you get a similar metrics, then you know that this onion is good. Now its time to peel back a layer and have them test a small number of agents offshore and again compare metrics. Offshore outsourcing provides the greatest value ($9 – $15 per hour), but can come at a price because of strong accents and cultural differences. Watch your numbers closely. You should always work with a company that can measure and report on the numbers most important to you multiple times per day during the test.
There are some companies that provide offshore services with nearly perfect English. Go ahead and look at India or the Philippines or elsewhere. Ask the company to provide recordings or better yet, get on live calls. If the company can’t provide you with the ability to listen in on live calls from your office, they don’t have the technology needed to report on call metrics properly.
Now, you’ve found an outsourced company that is matching or exceeding your in-house numbers. They’re doing it at a cost savings either domestically or offshore or blended. Now it’s time to start to sweat that onion and really bring out the flavors.
Using an outsourced call center to test new initiatives is the fastest and most cost effective way to test. And, any company that stops testing dies. Here are a couple of examples of how to get the most flavor at of testing with your outsourced call center onion.
– Test them on lead qualification. Have them call your sales leads and filter them before passing a warm transfer to an in-house closer.
– Test them on B2B or B2C appointment setting.
– Test them on bump sales during customer service calls.
– Test them on event registration for your tradeshows and other events.
– Test them on new “saves initiatives” or second chance sales.
– Test them on lead generation campaigns.
– Test them on outbound up-selling campaigns.
– These are just a few of the ideas that seldom come to outsourced floors, but for which outsourced call centers are uniquely qualified to do. Best of all they can test for far less than it would cost in-house.
If you test initiatives in-house you usually test with your best people so your metrics will be affected on your core business during the test. Furthermore, your best people are usually your most expensive. You’ll change their focus to do something different without knowing if it will last. Best practices require that you test one variable at a time. Outsourcing is the best way to do that as long as you have a relationship with an onion you trust.
In the end, outsourcing call center work is like a beautiful layered onion. When cared for and used properly they will lower costs, increase revenue and provide a valuable arm for testing that will keep your company on the leading edge. Heck, onions even make liver taste good!
In this industry call center customer satisfaction (Csat) is king. If you are not focused on customer satisfaction then you’re dropping the ball. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of call center consulting and how it can improve your call center metrics.