Partnering with a contact center has proven prudent for many businesses. In a good economy, inbound call center solutions are advantageous. They can be even more beneficial in a tough economy, especially if there are added challenges of hiring qualified labor at affordable rates.
Once you’ve decided to consider a contact center partnership, how do you find the right one? Large, small, domestic, off-shore, near-shore – there are so many companies to choose from, and the search can be overwhelming. This blog will outline the most important factors to consider when choosing your partner and share tips on getting the most from your decision.
Define Your Project Needs
Before vetting providers for inbound call center solutions, define your needs. Start with the basics. What vertical is your business in? How many customers will need support, and how often will they need it? Is your project short-term or ongoing? The size and scope of your business and the nature of the service play a big part in determining which contact center is best for you.
Outsourced providers offer various service models, and you want to align your needs with the proper model. Not all contact centers offer more than one model; some exclusively provide dedicated or shared resources. A company with minimal contact activity may not need all the services and bandwidth that a large enterprise requires.
Define the project’s hours of operation. Not every contact center is open 24-7, so establish a solution that fits your customer’s expectations.
Are you looking for an “out of the box” solution, or will you require customization on your program? Most people prefer having at least a portion of their model built to serve their unique needs. Call centers that offer custom solutions can design elements or the entirety of their support model to fulfill your wish list.
Determine which contact channels you want your customers and determine if the contact center offers the requisite technology to provide those options. Most contact centers offer multiple contact channels, as telephone-based support isn’t typically enough. Ask about a provider’s capabilities and experience working with those channels.
If you’ve never worked with a contact center before, you may not know which channels you should offer. You could survey your customers to ask them about their expectations, which would give you some direction on where to start, but a good contact center should be able to work with you and guide you through this process.
Clearly define what services you need. Are you looking for order processing (pre-sale), customer service support (post-sale), technical support, or all of the above? Different skills are needed for each of these roles, so you must match your needs with the strengths of the company’s agents. Ask about their training process and decide if you are confident that their staff will provide excellent support to your customers.
Consider Your Budget
Once you define your project’s needs, consider your budget. Since service rates can differ considerably from one provider to the next, you must align your budget with the provider and service model you employ. Keep in mind that there are gross and net costs to consider. Just because one center offers a lower hourly or per-minute rate does not mean their net cost is less than another provider offering a higher rate. Also, consider the handling time of interactions and apply the average handle time (AHT) to the rates to determine your net cost per contact. And remember, the lowest price doesn’t always relate to the best service (and it rarely does).
Do Your Research
Once you’ve defined your project and budget, it’s time to do your research.
General browser searches can help point you in the right direction. Be precise in your searches. For example, if you prefer a domestic inbound contact center, enter those very words. Spend time on company websites and familiarize yourself with their practices, technology, and experience. Identify the top five companies you feel are a good fit, then contact each contact center and ask questions you have prepared to present in the vetting process. Once you hone in on your shortlist, speak with references and identify the level of engagement you would receive from their executive teams.
Another option is to work with brokers or consultants. These companies do the vetting for you and maintain a network of providers that they endorse. This approach can save considerable time since the legwork is being done for you, and brokers/consultants will only recommend service providers that fit your program requirements. Since these companies make their money only when one of their provided companies wins your business, it is in their best interests to align you with quality providers specializing in your service areas.
There are independent resources you can consult that aggregate data, vet contact centers, and maintain a repository of providers for your consideration. Companies such as UpCity provide details on numerous contact centers, which are filtered by questions you answer related to your search. You can also read reviews of the providers there, all of which are verified by UpCity.
Lastly, speak with trusted business associates in your network about inbound call center solutions. Ask them which companies they’ve worked with, the services they require, and how happy they are with their decisions.
Choose Your Partner and Begin Reaping Rewards
Once you’ve chosen the right company for your business, it’s time to start. Implementing a contact center solution can take time, but choosing the right partner is worth it. You and your customers will benefit from the decision.
Knowing that happy customers are more likely to purchase from you again in the future, outsourcing is easy if you feel your customer experiences can be improved for any reason. Telecom, Inc. has been providing contact center services to leading brands for nearly thirty years and is happy to answer any questions you have about how we can serve as your strategic partner. Contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation complimentary consultation about our services and see if our partnership-based offer aligns with your program needs.