Guide to Call Center Outsourcing: Finding the Perfect BPO Partner
by King White, on Jul 13, 2023 8:00:00 AM
To combat challenging labor conditions in the U.S., companies are continually seeking ways to optimize their call center operations to improve customer service levels, increase sales and reduce costs. One popular solution that has gained tremendous traction is outsourcing call center operations to onshore, nearshore and offshore geographies. However, it can be extremely difficult to find the right business process outsourcing (BPO) partner. In this blog post, we will explore the key considerations and steps involved in finding a BPO.
Assessing your needs
Before embarking on the outsourcing journey, it is crucial to evaluate your unique requirements. Consider factors such as call volume, languages supported, technical expertise needed and the specific services you wish to outsource (e.g., inbound customer service, inbound/outbound sales, technical support, geographic constraints). By gaining clarity on your needs, you can effectively communicate your expectations to potential call center partners.
Identifying the optimal geography
It is critical to utilize a proven site selection process to identify the optimal geography to outsource your work before even considering the vendor. Factors such as labor market conditions, language proficiency, cultural compatibility, time zone alignment, geo-political risks and operational costs should be considered. One of the most common mistakes is letting the outsourcing provider dictate where to locate since they are often trying to fill up excess capacity at their existing sites. Some of the most popular outsourcing destinations include the U.S., Philippines, India, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. Research the advantages and drawbacks of each region to identify the location that aligns best with your business goals.
Researching call center BPOs in the targeted geography
Once the preferred geography is identified, thorough research is vital when selecting BPOs. Consider factors such as industry experience, size, available capacity and reputation in the local labor market. Keep in mind that bigger doesn’t always mean better. The best partners are often the “diamond-in-the-rough” mid-sized outsourcers. Conducting site visits or virtual tours can provide valuable insights into their facilities, infrastructure and technology capabilities.
Evaluating technology and infrastructure
To ensure seamless call center operations, evaluate the technology and infrastructure available to potential outsourcing partners even if you will be utilizing your own tech platform. Look for providers with advanced telephony systems, call recording and monitoring capabilities, data security protocols, and robust backup solutions. Scalability and the ability to integrate with your existing systems are also essential considerations.
Assessing agent skills and training
The success of any call center operation hinges on the skills and training of the agents. Inquire about call center providers’ recruitment processes, training methodologies and ongoing skill-development programs. Request information about their agent retention rates and ability to provide specialized training for niche requirements or industry-specific knowledge.
Understanding service level agreements (SLAs)
Clear communication and well-defined Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are crucial for a successful outsourcing partnership. Discuss key metrics such as average response time, call resolution rates, customer satisfaction scores and escalation procedures. Ensure that call center providers under consideration have a robust quality assurance program in place to maintain service standards.
Security and data protection
Data security is of paramount importance when outsourcing call center operations. Inquire about call center providers’ data protection measures, compliance with relevant regulations (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA) and internal security protocols. Assess disaster recovery plans and backup procedures to ensure business continuity in case of emergencies.
Pricing and contractual considerations
Obtain detailed pricing information from potential call center outsourcing partners. Evaluate their pricing models (per-minute, per-hour or per-agent) and compare them against industry standards as well as other proposals. Understand the terms and conditions of the contract, including contract length, termination clauses and potential scalability options.
Outsourcing call center operations can be a strategic move for companies looking to optimize their operations and potentially reduce their costs. By carefully considering factors such as location, technology, agent skills, security and contractual considerations, you can find the perfect call center business process outsourcing partner. Conduct thorough research, seek recommendations and engage in comprehensive discussions to ensure a successful and long-lasting outsourcing relationship. Remember, the right call center partner can become an invaluable extension of your team, enabling your company to thrive in the competitive marketplace.