You probably did everything when you first started your company.
You negotiated deals, packed orders, and answered calls. As time went by, you hired employees and started delegating tasks. If your company keeps growing, though, there comes the point when outsourcing starts looking like a practical option.
Fielding customer calls is one of the most common tasks that companies outsource. It’s a practical choice. Most customer service calls only need a stock answer or activity.
It’s the kind of thing that you can largely automate with a script or menu of options.
Choosing an outsourced call center, on the other hand, isn’t a simple task. The sheer number of companies makes it difficult. To say nothing of the distinct options they offer.
So, keep reading, and we’ll tell you some of the things to look for in an outsourced call center.
They Get Good Referrals or Reviews
When hiring a call center, you must do some due diligence. Testimonials on their website might feel compelling, but no business posts negative feedback on their own site.
Pick a few business owners you trust and ask which call centers they use. See what they like and don’t like about those companies. Ask them if they’d recommend those call centers.
Poke around online at review sites. Look for red flags, like a sudden uptick in negative comments. That’s often a sign that the company is overstretched and the service quality has fallen off.
Find out when your top choices launched. Longevity isn’t everything, but it’s an indicator that they run a sound business model.
You can also ask the call center companies for references. As with testimonials, you should take the opinions of references with a grain of salt. They can still provide helpful information if you ask specific questions about their experiences.
The Call Center Will Actually Save You Money
One of the oft-touted advantages of call center outsourcing is that it saves you money. This can prove true, but it’s unwise to assume it.
You must crunch some numbers first for the baseline cost of running your own call center. Here are some vital internal costs you must assess:
- call center equipment
- projected overhead
- projected employee count
- average turnover
- projected initial and ongoing recruitment costs
- projected training costs
- projected employee benefits
It’s not enough to figure out the startup costs. Startup costs are always high. An outsourced call center always looks cheaper relative to those costs.
You need projected average costs for an internal call center, preferably at the 1, 3, and 5-year marks.
These numbers tell you whether an outsourced call center is actually cheaper in the long term. If a call center costs less over time, using one makes sense.
They Offer Useful Related Services
Fielding customer service calls and taking orders are a call center’s primary activities, but not the only ones. Many call centers offer useful related services that leverage their existing infrastructures.
A few common additional services include:
- virtual receptionists
- live chat
- call answering and message services
Don’t underestimate the value of these other services. Something in the neighborhood of 80% of people will move on to your competition if a person doesn’t answer. That’s a lot of potential business to leave sitting on the table.
A well-run live chat service can cut down on nuisance calls about mundane issues or questions.
If you’re curious about these kinds of services, read more now.
The Call Center can Adapt for New Projects
It’s not a secret that call centers run on scripts. That’s fine if your basic offerings don’t change much over time. What if you launch a new service or product that the old script doesn’t accommodate?
Let’s say you run a marketing firm that specializes in digital marketing and SEO. There is a lot of crossover knowledge between those areas and website design. You start offering the service and launch an inbound marketing campaign to drum up interest.
The problem is that your current call center script probably won’t work for that service. What you need is a subset of call center reps taking calls from a different number and working from a separate script.
You want a call center operation that can accommodate that situation without a contract renegotiation.
Make sure you know the actual call center location before you lock down any deal. Just because the business office is in Los Angeles or London, it doesn’t mean you’ll find the call center there
You might discover the call center is in India, Bangladesh, or the Philippines. For some businesses, this isn’t a problem. Other businesses want native speakers covering customer calls.
You must also consider your customer base when choosing between overseas and native speaker call centers. If you sell prestige priced products or services, you’ll probably want native speakers in your call center. If you sell consumer retail products, you can probably go either way.
They Use Solid Data Security Practices
Data security is a big deal these days. The ongoing stream of data breaches explains why.
As long as business processes stay in-house, you exert a lot of control over security. Your IT people can keep you updated, and you can decree new security measures.
When you use call center outsourcing, you surrender some of that control and put customer information in someone else’s hands. It’s in your best interest to make sure the call center uses rigorous data security measures.
Parting Thoughts on Selecting an Outsourced Call Center
An outsourced call center can serve an essential role in your business. They can free up resources better applied to core competencies.
Picking a call center takes a little consideration.
You want one that gets good feedback from customers. The call center should save you money in the long term, not just compared with startup costs for your own.
You want one that uses top-shelf data security practices. Ideally, the company can accommodate new projects and offers useful secondary services.
Always find out the actual location of the call center. If you need native speakers as representatives, this can exclude entire companies from the running.
For questions or comments, contact us or leave a comment below.