The struggle for businesses to find an edge over their competition is real. Many businesses identify improved customer service interactions as a key area determining success.
This factor is why many companies have begun exploring the benefits of outsourcing their inbound calling services rather than trying to create, develop, and maintain an in-house system. If you’re considering inbound call center outsourcing, here are some key aspects you should know about the service.
What Is an Inbound Call Center?
Inbound call centers are centralized facilities where call agents, typically in the role of customer support representatives, field incoming calls from customers who have questions or need help with their product or service.
Some of the main tasks call agents take on at inbound call centers include:
- Identifying and resolving customer complaints
- Providing technical support and troubleshooting
- Answering questions knowledgeably about products and services
- Helping process orders, returns, and exchanges
- Helping with billing and account issues
Inbound call center outsourcing helps businesses ensure their customer service is prompt and effective. This can significantly improve not only customer satisfaction overall but also customer loyalty to your brand.
What Is an Outsourced Call Center?
When you outsource your call center needs, that means you’re working with a third-party service provider who handles inbound calls and customer service functions on your company’s behalf.
Customer service professionals at outsourced call centers are specially trained to adhere to a brand’s guidelines while learning about their products, services, and how to help customers with various inquiries.
Outsourced call centers have the infrastructure to seamlessly integrate into a business’s customer service workflow.
While a company can have an internal call center, sometimes, outsourcing call center needs simply makes more sense. For example, outsourcing customer service can allow key members of the company to focus on their core functions while still ensuring their customers are receiving dedicated support and attention.
Many companies find arrangements with third-party call centers to be a beneficial way to save resources and improve efficiency while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
How Do You Outsource a Customer Service Call Center?
In theory, outsourcing a customer service call center is quite simple. But in reality, it requires careful planning and execution for your inbound call center needs to be successfully handled.
Start by Defining Your Goals and Objectives
You should begin outsourcing inbound calling services by defining your goals and objectives. In other words, what key business objectives is your company trying to meet by outsourcing a customer service call center?
Start by assessing your current customer service workflow, so you know which areas need improvement. Some examples may include higher customer satisfaction scores or first-call resolution rates.
Then, you should identify your priorities. What are the main aspects of your customer service process that you want to improve? Are you trying to enhance the overall customer experience by outsourcing to dedicated professionals, or are you trying to cut labor costs?
Establish measurable KPIs you can deliver to an inbound call center so they understand your objectives. Make sure these KPIs are “SMART” goals or:
You should also consider your budget. Knowing your budget helps you determine what aspects to prioritize outsourcing vs. which ones you may need to keep in-house.
Before you begin outsourcing inbound calling services, you should also know what technology requirements the company will need to have. For example, will they need access to your customer relationship management software or inventory infrastructure? What do they need in order to successfully perform their jobs?
By identifying your specific needs and goals, you can better strategize how to implement an inbound call center into your customer service workflow while staying within budget constraints.
Review Service Agreements
When working with a third-party, especially when it comes to outsourcing customer service needs, you should carefully review the service level agreements and pricing structure offered by the company you’re considering.
A well-structured agreement will outline:
- Responsibilities of both the company and the call center
The service agreement should outline the scope of services. This is why it’s important for you to know what you need to outsource, like billing assistance or technical support. Without knowing what your business needs to prioritize, you cannot have a clear service agreement.
The service agreement should also outline minimum performance standards and expectations, like the average response times.
Additionally, the service agreement should have a clause regarding data security and compliance, which is particularly important if your business is in an industry that deals with sensitive information, like customer financial information.
Depending on your industry, you may also want to request a confidentiality agreement or NDA, which ensures the call center is protecting your company’s intellectual property.
Finally, there should be an outline within the agreement for how to resolve disputes or disagreements. For example, if you receive a negative customer satisfaction score from an interaction the third-party call center had with one of your customers, you will want clear guidance on how you and the call center can work together to resolve the issue.
Vet the Company
Vet the customer service call center by checking its reputation in the industry. You can do this by reviewing testimonials from existing clients or by asking the company for references you can contact for feedback.
Since customer service is such a critical part of your business’s success, you want to ensure the company you work with is high-quality and professional.
Create a Plan for a Seamless Transition
Once you’ve selected a company to work with and both parties have agreed on contract terms, it’s time to work closely together on a thorough transition plan that allows seamless implementation.
The transition plan should help minimize disruptions in customer interactions while ensuring the outsourced call center is fully prepared to navigate your company’s inbound call services needs.
Start by assembling a transition team made up of representatives from both your company and the call center. Then, develop a realistic implementation timeline that notes dates for system integration, staff training, and the official launch of offloading inbound call services.
Conducting a knowledge transfer will help the call center understand critical information about your company, its products and services, and who your clients are. The knowledge transfer piece may require documentation like product manuals or company policies.
If you have an in-house knowledge base, you should share that with the call center, provided you have agreements in place to protect your intellectual property.
The next step is to integrate systems like CRM or logistics and train the outsourced team on your company’s policies and procedures. This is particularly essential if you work in an industry with specific regulations or compliance requirements.
Finally, you should establish agreed-upon communication channels between the call center and your company so that, should any needs arise, they’re easily communicated between parties.
Continuously Monitor and Evaluate Performance
Just because you’re outsourcing your inbound customer service needs doesn’t mean the third-party call center is immune from quality assurance audits and evaluations. Regularly evaluate how the third-party company is performing by using KPIs and feedback from customers.
Should any issues arise, you can communicate directly with the company to see if you can amicably resolve the issues.
Why Do Companies Outsource Call Centers?
There are myriad reasons why a company may choose to outsource its inbound call centers, but here are some of the main reasons.
In many cases, outsourcing can lead to major cost savings because it eliminates the need to invest in and develop infrastructure and technology for customer service workflows, as well as recruitment and training for customer service representatives.
When you outsource to a third party, the service providers themselves take care of these expenses and responsibilities so your company can focus its resources on other important areas of business.
Highly Trained Workforce
Outsourced call centers are able to dedicate their workforce specifically to handling a variety of customer service tasks. This allows them to recruit and train highly skilled customer service professionals whose sole task is providing unparalleled customer service support.
Scalability and Flexibility
Working with outsourced call centers allows you to have greater flexibility with your customer service needs. For example, if you have launched a new product or have had a service update and anticipate a high volume of upcoming customer inquiries, you can easily scale your operations up to meet predicted needs and customer demands.
Some outsourced call centers typically provide after-hours support so your customers can get help past the standard 9 to 5. Some call centers even provide around-the-clock support, which can not only enhance general customer satisfaction but also increase your brand’s reputation.
Better Customer Experiences Overall
Leveraging the resources and expertise of a professional inbound call center can provide better customer experiences overall, which fosters both customer retention and loyalty.
Work with Outsourced Inbound Calling Services to Benefit Your Business
Inbound call center outsourcing can greatly benefit your business by enhancing the overall customer service experience while helping you cut labor costs. Inbound calling services are a critical part of most companies, so working with a team of dedicated professionals can yield long-term benefits for your company.