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Critical Steps in Choosing a Contact Center Services Partner

February 10, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

While all contact centers operate differently, depending on their size and the nature of the business they are serving, successful customer support operations have a few things in common. These ideas apply whether a contact center is making outbound calls, taking inbound calls or both. They apply to all industries, all company sizes and all types of customers.

Determining what these traits are, however, is a bit more challenging, particularly if you’re engaging a company that offers customer support on an outsourced basis. After all, you don’t know this company and you’ve never done business with it before, but you’re planning to trust your customers with it. Small Business Trends recently asked a panel of nine entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what the most important factor is when considering the purchase of outsourced contact center services:

What customers hear when they call. Are their calls getting picked up quickly by a friendly and knowledgeable individual who speaks English well? Or are calls getting picked up by tired, robotic voices rushing their way through a script? If the contact center is offshore, can you understand the agents?  The best way to learn about the companies you are considering engaging is to find out who their customers are and call those numbers to experience it for yourself.

An alignment of metrics. What you consider a successful customer service outcome may not match the outsourcer’s idea of a successful customer service outcome. Determine in advance which metrics are most important to you (i.e., first-call resolution) and ensure the outsourcer you choose is willing to live by those metrics.

Solutions integration. If the contact center is building a list of leads for you, ensure there is a smooth way to bring those leads from the teleservices provider and into your own organization. If you’re paying for leads, you’re likely wasting your money if there is no fast and easy way to bring those leads in-house. This may require ensuring that both you and the BPO company you pick are using the same customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

Payment model. How does the business process outsourcing provider you are considering, pay their agents? By the call, by the lead, or by the hour? This may affect the quality of work the company can offer. Employees paid by call or lead may be tempted to fudge bad leads into the mix simply to boost their compensation.

Transparency of operations. Will the BPO company allow you to keep a close eye on how they do business? Will it provide you with daily or hourly updates or even let you watch call queue activity live? Will it let you listen to any call recordings you want? A secretive company unwilling to allow clients total transparency into operations probably has something to hide.

While there are many areas of business in which trial-and-error is routine, a contact center services partner shouldn’t be one of them. Get references, begin building a relationship with management and account executives and follow your gut: if the company and the price it’s offering seem too good to be true, it probably is.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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