, ,

To Outsource or Not to Outsource

This is one of the most common contact center questions.

Operating a successful business means taking risks to increase profits, but how do you know which risks to take? Many companies spend thousands of dollars performing services that customers need, and which complement their products. The challenge is that companies are not always equipped to offer specific portions of the services. Call centers can help.

Trusting a contact center with essential services is a risky venture. While the partnership has the potential to save money, it also has the potential to create more problems. It is important to research a call center, to identify which ones offer quality services and work with vendors who they have vetted.

What is contact center outsourcing?

Most companies outsource, they simply don’t realize it. When a company has a separate division that handles credit card purchases, this is a form of contact center outsourcing. Some smaller organizations choose to partner with a third party to oversee portions of their services. Often, these are administrative tasks, such as monitoring warranties or answering phone calls. Many agencies choose to go this route because it saves money. It is almost impossible for a business to have enough staff, or specially trained staff, to handle all components of its business that create a positive customer experience.

What problems does contact center outsourcing solve?

When a company chooses to handle all portions of service internally, they are taking on significant risk. By assuming this role, they become responsible for every aspect and each detail of an interaction with a customer. The more steps a company handles, the more they are at risk for a mistake or an unhappy person. Choosing to keep everything internal limits the business in different ways and creates more steps to make things right with a customer, or places all liabilities for a failed encounter on them. Research shows 78 percent of all companies partner with a call center because of this.

As almost every agency engages with the public or other vendors, the human risk factor increases. People do not respond the same to every situation; there are small nuances which can greatly affect an outcome. Both employees and customers struggle with the human aspect. It takes a considerable amount of training to effectively mitigate the human factor. Call center specialists are highly trained in this area. Businesses list the following as key factors in the decision process: cutting costs, solving capacity issues, focusing on the vision of the agency, enhancing the quality of services, accessing intellectual capital and driving transformational change.

Choosing to partner with a call center allows businesses flexibility. As a company launches new products or growth occurs, an employer does not have to worry if they have the right amount of staff. Rather than paying for each employee, this partnership allows the agency to pay only for the time spent on the phone or performing the specific task.

Growth into new markets requires local employees who are fluent in both the local language or dialect and culture. Instead of hiring new staff and investing in onboarding costs, a partnership with a contact center allows for such situations. Outsourcing to a contact center located in the geographic area will enhance the customer experience.

The best way to improve the customer experience is to have quick response times. But as any leader knows, it is almost impossible to predict spikes in business accurately. Yes, studying trends and performance in past years can generate predictions, but they are simply that, predictions. Once again, times of increased volume require additional staff, which, even if hired as seasonal employees, will raise the overall bottom line.

Finally, telecommunication infrastructure is difficult and costly to maintain. A strong partnership with a highly rated call center will eliminate this cost. Such a working relationship will allow both the organization and customers to enjoy the latest technology without the expense.

What countries are on top of the outsourcing game?

Within the Americas, the United States, followed by Canada, Mexico, Peru and Brazil are the top countries utilizing outsourcing. In the European market, the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Denmark are the top consumers. The Asian market is lead by Australia, followed by India, Russia, Hong Kong, and Japan. The countries which lead in economies and sales are also the countries which choose to cut their risk and partner with contact centers.

Which way is the contact center going?

The use of contact centers, across many sectors of the economy, is anticipated to grow. Growth is likely particularly in banking and finance services, insurance markets, automotive and aerospace fields, manufacturing and telecommunication. Contact centers are used in almost every field. These are specialty fields and maintaining adequatelytrained staff, who are currently in the fields, can greatly increase cost.

Robotic process automation

Many businesses are looking at robotics and automation to not only reduce costs but to also improve the customer experience. Some sectors are also experiencing a talent shortage, so using robotics can help in this area. For many industries, this will cause a shortage of jobs and place a strain on longstanding relationships. Only the agencies able to afford the expense of robotics will benefit. Utilizing a call center can alleviate this need and worry. The company will already have a cost-effective method in place.

Cloud adoption

Cloud adoption provides a framework for analyzing specific audiences and their role within and without the agency. Each portion is broken down into a perspective, and that perspective is applied to the departments it addresses. Common perspectives include business, people, governance, platform, security and operations. It would be costly and difficult for any organization to properly manage each perspective. Working with a contact center enables perspectives which are not specialties to be outsourced. This reduces costs, increases business and places specialists in each role.

Conclusion

Choosing to work with a contact center can not only save money for a company but also allow for higher quality services performed by experts. Also, the overall risk for the organization decreases as it is no longer liable for each step. Outsourcing such roles to experts create the ultimate customer experience.

, , , , ,

When In Doubt, consult: The Role of Call Center Consulting

Every organization faces the challenge of how to complete work and projects with the staff currently on hand. In many instances, organizations do not have the money to hire additional employees, or hiring a new person is not a sound decision when your team does not anticipate a long-term need for the position.

In such a conundrum, there is no easy answer. How can your organization create and maintain a lean budget that allows for growth and higher profits? The answer is simple: outsource. Rather than waste time and energy, look into contracting a call center consulting group.

These agencies are vetted, have highly trained staff and can provide references for previous work completed. Such a solution would allow you to hire additional staff as needed and maintain a positive employer brand.

Employees would appreciate the support and, in some opportunities, the consulting work may provide training for your permanent staff and increase the overall customer experience.

What Call Center Consulting Covers

The services provided are broad, ranging from support for a small office to expert solutions for Fortune 500 companies. At Call Center Optimization Group (CCOG), we can meet every need an organization may have. The overarching goal is to create a working partnership with each business that is unique to their needs.

We have a highly trained and diverse team of advisors who can easily identify and understand your requirements, creating a package to meet your business needs while remaining within budget.

A few key services include project management and implementation, performance improvement, training and development, workforce and capacity planning, and technology solutions. Instead of working late nights or increasing the overall workload of your staff, seek help from the experts.

The following services are requested often by organizations:

Performance improvement.

Improving employee performance is key to increasing overall profits. But how do you ensure the biggest bang for your buck and know you are hiring a quality trainer? The coaches and trainers at CCOG have hands-on experience as well as quality training.

The different teams within CCOG work together seamlessly, allowing for trainers and coaches to learn what is needed from the consultants who have worked with your staff. Imagine being able to afford customized training support.

Attrition reduction.

Employees sometimes can be the most unreliable resource in your organization. With the unpredictable human nature, illnesses, deaths or unplanned family needs, employees can be continually entering and exiting the workforce.

This revolving door of employees creates an unstable environment in which work is not completed consistently, or with consistent quality and results. By utilizing CCOG, our team of experts can work alongside your staff, learning their positions and cross-training, to cover the period team members are absent.

Maintaining a constant workflow will increase your revenue, profits, promote your brand and enhance the customer experience.

New project implementation.

Every organization faces the continual dilemma of adapting to the changing needs of its customers and remaining relevant or continuing to provide the same services. Implementing new projects requires additional staff, particularly a project manager. Turning to a call center consultant for temporary staffing solutions can work for your organization.

Process improvement.

Maintaining the highest quality services as well as keeping the current best practices can be challenging. For some organizations, you simply cannot afford to have one person dedicated to researching and identifying the improvements needed.

CCOG has staff dedicated to studying current best practices, reviewing your organization and identifying the needed improvements. CCOG can also provide the training required to implement the identified enhancements.

New call center site implementation.

Adding or starting a new business is overwhelming. No matter how well prepared or trained you are, situations and challenges will arise that call for additional staff or subject matter experts.

CCOG can sidestep these challenges by walking alongside you every step of the way. Imagine having a mentor to guide you through the process.

Training and development.

For any business to stay ahead of the curve, continuous staff training and development are necessary. Instead of looking for quality trainers who will take time to acclimate to your culture, you can work with trainers already familiar with industry standards and your business.

Technology solutions.

Technology is costly and difficult for organizations of any size to fund. Technology also depreciates quickly, becoming a liability. Working with a call center consulting company allows you to access the newest technology without straining your budget or investing in hardware that may be outdated in less than a year.

How call center consulting helps

If you have any doubts about the services a call center can provide, keep reading. Call centers provide the extra staff, knowledge, subject matter experts and technology all organizations need to be successful and profitable without adding additional financial burdens.

Setting industry standards. Working within any industry, you want an assurance that your organization is setting standards or keeping up with standard changes. Working with CCOG ensures you will stay on top of the trends in your industry.

Developing strategies and best practices. For an organization to stay current on best practices, it needs to develop and implement strategies. Trust our experts to integrate plans that will help your organization to grow.

Improving existing workflows. Maintaining a continuous workflow ensures an organization’s success and profits. If employee attrition becomes an issue, or if employees are not adequately trained or even recruited, your customers will notice, and your organization will lose business.

Working with a call center consultant ensures your business will grow in an uncertain market. Our experts can help you identify areas of growth and support you throughout the process without lessening your profits.

,

Outsourcing Non-Core Activities of Your Business

General Management defines an organization’s stages in four ways. The seed stage, the startup stage, growth, and expansion. Opposed to popular belief, outsourcing non-core activities of your business can be considered, in all stages, as a great asset. This is not limited to the expansion stage.

When it comes to finding the right outsourcing partner, your decision should not depend on the stage your organization is in but rather what activities you plan to outsource.

The right question to ask yourself is whether your revenue-generating activities e.g. sales, marketing or product development are effectively using their time to think strategically and execute. If you find out they are dedicating a significant amount of time on back-office activities and administrative operations; then you know what activities you should outsource.

Besides the internal value your company gains when outsourcing non-core activities of your business, you can also reduce the costs associated with running a contact center.

Now that you’ve asked yourself the right question – selecting the right vendors is not an easy task. A new vendor has the power to streamline efficiencies across your company or lead it to failure.

These are some aspects we consider relevant to include in your planning (based on our experience with clients) when considering Call Center and BPO providers for any outsourcing activity.

Define Goals for Outsourcing

We start off the list very intentionally by encouraging our clients to define the areas of their business they need outsourced – customer service, IT services, back-end, etc. – and then asking them to define what success would look like if they opt for outsourcing. Using the SMART methodology to define success metrics is a great way to start. This is a useful recap we found in case you need to dust off some of these concepts.

Once you’ve defined this goal with this or any other methodology, make sure you get company buy-in; this means, a consensus from employees all across the organization to acknowledge how outsourcing will benefit their work, and consequently the company as a whole.

Research!

Call Center and BPO Providers are VAST. Just for starters, you can take a quick look at our Call Center and BPO Providers Network.

In this universe of providers, it is paramount that you dust off and bring back your research skills to find best providers but also be aware of the industry specifications and the drivers of innovation.

Pro Tip: make sure you tap into the experts for knowledge-based recommendations. Although vast, the industry remains consistently medium-sized and therefore leaders of the industry are always a first touch point when asking for references of vendors.

Throwing out an RFI doesn’t hurt to narrow down the search

Enable an internal structure

Forbes recommends organizations to have a Chief Customer Officer in the structure and org chart.  At CCOG, we not only agree but also build on that idea by encouraging our partners to build structures that enable governance, quality management and most importantly, strategy over your outsourcing partner.

The idea of creating a structure of governance is based on the idea that it will make your company more flexible to embrace technologies in the customer-centric industry we are in and also serve as a hub for innovation within the business.

Let us help you improve Customer Experience Strategy through Data.

Call Center Optimization Group is at the forefront of these trends and many others in the call center industry.  We have years of experience identifying, designing and implementing call center technologies that drive improved results and ROI for companies all over the world.  Take advantage of our vast operations experience and technology network to optimize your contact center solution.

Find out how Call Center Optimization Group can help you today!

Contact Us:  

1.888.650.5880

service@callcenterpower.com

,

Why Do Businesses Decide to Outsource Their Contact Center Services?

At some point in the lifecycle of most businesses, there’s a decision point regarding how best to deal with the proliferation of customer contacts.  In the early stages of growth, most businesses handle calls and emails with an internal staff.  As this expands and the cost of adding staff begins to accumulate, many companies realize that their internal center is ill equipped to adequately deal with the demands of their business.

Over the course of the next several blogs, we will discuss the most common reasons why businesses decide to outsource their contact center services.  The first reason we will focus on is, of course, cost.  There are many expenses associated with running a contact center, but we will focus here on three in particular: Staffing; Technology; and Regulation Compliance.

  1. Staffing – This is the number one cost driver for a contact center operation. Companies find it cheaper to outsource call center staff for several reasons:
    1. Geography: Many companies are in urban areas where the cost to hire employees comes with a big price tag. Call center companies tend to locate in lower cost areas in suburban or rural locations (like college towns) where they can still attract talent but at a cheaper cost.  Additionally, lots of contact center companies have expansive footprints that include near shore and offshore locations that can provide massive savings on staffing.
    2. Agent Compensation: It’s expensive to hire full time employees at an internal call center. In addition to salary, you must cover health benefits, vacation, sick time, personal leave, etc. When you outsource, you pay for the agent’s productive time…the outsourcer pays vacation, sick time, tardiness, etc.  Also, they will usually cover the cost of lunches and breaks.
    3. Hiring and Firing: Staffing is part of the core competency at contact centers and they deal with recruiting and replacing staff in a continuous effort year-round.
    4. Training: While contact centers do charge for initial or “new hire” training, most will not charge their clients for attrition (replacing agents) training. Because contact center agents tend to attrite at higher than average rates, this is a big hidden cost savings.
  2. Technology – Running a contact center involves having an ACD (automatic call distributor) and a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. Within these tools are add-ons like workforce management software, quality monitoring systems, and reporting and analytics tools.  In addition to having to pay steep implementation costs to integrate these technologies, there is also an ongoing licensing cost.  Many small businesses can’t afford to make these types of investments.  For those that can, often they are under-utilizing their tools because they don’t have the necessary in-house personnel expertise.  A typical call center will provide the following as a part of their hourly agent rate:
    1. ACD/Call Routing System/Outbound Dialer
    2. Workforce Management/Forecasting/Real-Time Adherence
    3. Basic CRM with custom integration usually billed at an hourly IT rate
    4. Quality Monitoring software that allows remote listening and screen viewing capability
    5. Knowledgebase/Resource Sharing/Intranet for easy access and reference to training materials
    6. And most importantly: the staffing resources with the expertise to administer and utilize these tools.
  3. Regulations Compliance – This is a necessary investment that is too often overlooked at most internal call centers, many times because they aren’t aware of them. It can be very expensive to build a contact center environment that adheres to the multitude of government regulations imposed on the industry.  It can also be very expensive to NOT adhere to these regulations in the form of fines and/or shutdowns.  The following are the most common regulations affecting the industry and their basic reasons for existing:
    1. PCI DSS – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This regulation is tied to safeguarding customer credit card data.  There are many factors that go into being “PCI Compliant” and there are several different levels of certification.  Suffice to say that getting to a PCI level compliance and staying there takes organizational discipline and is an ongoing process.  Getting certified at PCI level 1 (300K+ transactions per year) will cost roughly $70K per audit.  Fines can range from $2K to $100K per month for PCI violations, plus additional fines for repeat violations.  Data breaches can cost company millions of dollars in remediation fees and untold dollars in loss of customers due to goodwill issues.
    2. HIPAA – HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed. There are several steps a company needs to go through to become HIPAA compliant including training, building a compliance manual, installing hacker and ransomware software protection, and continual remediation and ongoing audits.  It takes anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to go through the steps to become HIPAA compliant and costs ~ $5K.  HIPAA violations can result in fines based on the severity (tier) ranging from $100 to $50K per violation with a maximum of $1.5M per year.

It’s a daunting task to build and maintain a world class call center with top notch staff, great systems and tools while maintaining all industry regulations.  If you are a corporation that has built your own internal call center and are dealing with any/all of the above issues, consider outsourcing to a 3rd party provider that deals with all the above as a core competency.

Find out what everyone else in the call center industry is talking about by following our Call Center Optimization Group page on Linked In.  Follow our Linked In page here!

,

Is Outsourcing Right for Your Business?

Call center executives all over the world get faced with this question at some point in their career.  Doesn’t matter how big their company is or what industry vertical they are in because at some point, every organization is faced with the pressure to do more with less.  Reducing expenses in the wake of increasing competition is a harsh fact of life for every business.  The good news is, outsourcing some or all of your call center operation, can have significant cost control benefits but the thought of giving up the control of how your brand is represented to your customers, can be scary.

When trying to determine if outsourcing is right for your company, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. “Does the cost of servicing my customers have to come down?”
  2. “Can I reduce the cost of my existing services operations without sacrificing quality?”
  3. “Can our company’s call center effectively handle seasonal or marketing driven call volume spikes?”
  4. “Do I have the space internally to grow my call center?”
  5. “Is our call center operation getting too large and complex to effectively manage it internally?”

You can ask yourself these and many other questions that will help you determine if outsourcing your call center is right for you.  Many companies start small call centers when they are young to support their growing customer base and eventually realize as they grow that their call center has gotten unwieldy.  Our team at Call Center Optimization Group has had many of our clients tell us: ”My company is not in the call center business.  How do we get out of this?”.  In this case, outsourcing is a phenomenal option that helps these clients to move their call center operations to the “experts” while allowing them to continue to focus on their business.

There are also basic questions that will help you to determine if it is time to outsource your call center.  If your call center is growing but you physically do not have the space, outsourcing is a great solution.  If your existing call center is having a hard time servicing your customers during seasonal or marketing driven call volume spikes, call center outsourcing can solve this problem for you as well.

If you have asked yourself these and other questions, and have determined that it might be time for you to consider outsourcing all or some of your call center operation, you do not have to do it on your own.  Call Center Optimization Group has built one of the largest call center partner network in the world.  All of our call center companies are fully vetted and have to meet rigorous standards in order to make it into our network.  When you reach out to Call Center Optimization Group, you can trust that we and our partners, will put your customers first.

Our Call Center Partner Advisors will document your project requirements in detail and only engage call center partners that have the skills and experience to service your most precious resource; your customers!  We always bring multiple call center partners to the table for you to review, each of which is scored and ranked based on a strong set of criteria, established by our experienced call center executive team.  We will also advise you during contract negotiations, enabling you to save a ton of dollars over the life of the contract.  When you decide to outsource your call center, Call Center Optimization Group will be with you every step of the way.

The best part is, we do not charge our client’s for our call center partner referral services.   We are paid the same commission % by all of our call center partners so you can rest assured that our team will always put you and your customer’s interests first.

If you are ready to outsource some or all of your call center operation, call Call Center Optimization Group today.  At “CCOG”, we have information you can use and advice you can trust.

Click here for more information on our Call Center Partner Referral Services.

Doug Deker – COO Call Center Optimization Group