Deciding to outsource your contact center program is often a great decision, and many companies choose this path. As you seek a contact center partner, make sure you understand their best practices and how they relate to your program.
There are general contact center best practices – for example, instructing staff to apply “please” and “thank you” in customer interactions. There are also industry or audience-specific best practices to consider. An example of an audience-specific best practice is to avoid calling a restaurant during the breakfast, lunch, and dinner rush. Some of these practices are common sense, while others are a result of extensive experience. In either case, they have a measured impact on results.
How do you ensure that your partner contact center has best practices that will work for your program? Discuss them upfront. We suggest you start by covering the following topics.
Training is critical to the success of all contact center programs. While vetting a potential partner, begin by understanding the training curriculum administered to new representatives of the company, as well as program-specific training. The most reliable call centers have a streamlined training process to introduce the company’s best practices when serving customers. A well-designed training process sets expectations of staff and is delivered consistently by qualified trainers.
Next, consider program-specific training. This training is more tactical, focused on providing the tools required to be successful in your campaign, such as:
- What best practices are applied to this level of training, and where do you fit in?
- How does the provider administer training?
- What platforms are used?
- What steps are taken to ensure content retention?
- Are there specific training modules required for your audience, such as how to best serve elderly customers?
- What will your role be in the training?
Best practices often result from direct experience, learning what and what not to do from trial and error. Sometimes the path to experience is a result of best practices. For example, agents tend to stay with companies that treat them well – an enterprise best practice.
Understand the experience of staff who will be assigned to your program. Assess personnel in three groups: front-line staff, middle-management, and the executive team.
Front-line staff are the representatives directly serving your customers. Understand their individual profiles, like their number of years of experience, tenure with the company, and level of education. Contact centers have varied practices when it comes to who they hire. Make sure their hiring best practices align with your expectations and that the company offers personnel that is best suited for your customers. Keep in mind that the profile of an inbound and outbound representative has similarities as well as distinct differences, which will vary depending on the nature of your program.
Middle management reflects any team leaders, project managers, and supervisors who will oversee the front-line staff. These individuals are instrumental in the success of your program. Understand their profiles, specifically their experience in the contact center industry. Many contact centers promote front-line staff to middle management, which is a rewarding practice. You should also understand what the contact center offers for continuing education or professional development.
Executive team experience will greatly impact your partner relationship and program results. Understand how much experience the owner/CEO/COO/CTO offer and the level of their involvement in your program. A company’s best practices often originate from the executive team – the more they offer, the more successful your program will be.
The length of time a contact center has been in business should be a factor in your decision-making process. Since best practices often result from both good and bad experiences, the more experience a company can offer, the better.
Be sure to find out how the company’s experience aligns with your industry, program needs, and audience you serve. Some contact centers are specialists in serving customers in just one or a few different verticals. Other providers serve a diverse customer base, operating within numerous verticals. You might assume the former holds more value as an expert advisor, but the latter often proves to be more valuable.
While there is value in selecting a provider with specific experience to your vertical, providers with diverse experience often have exposure to best practices found on programs in verticals that are replicable.
Operations personnel in a call center, whether internal or outsourced, are largely responsible for establishing and implementing best practices. Many companies co-source their service needs, meaning they run an internal team in parallel with their outsourced team to ensure consistency in how customers are served. Best practices are not proprietary and translate well to programs in a variety of verticals. As a result of this information-sharing, outsourced centers gain valuable knowledge.
Contact center best practices run the full gamut – compliance standards, recruiting and employment, reporting, quality assurance, client services, operations policies and so much more. If you begin your conversations around gaining a solid understanding of training best practices and the experience offered, you’ll have a great starting point that will allow you to delve in further, as needed.
Contact the Experts at Telecom, Inc.
Telecom, Inc. has been in business since 1993 and offers extensive enterprise experience. We service brands in many verticals, leading to substantial industry experience, and apply training best practices to every program and partner we work with. To learn more about our best practices and how they can benefit your program, contact us today!