In today’s competitive business environment, many companies are realizing the benefits and cost efficiencies of outsourcing some or all of their call center activities to a third-party partner that specializes in professional, inbound, outbound, and BPO services. Selecting an outsource call center partner is difficult and time-consuming. Because you are selecting a partner that is an extension of your business, your choice must be compatible, experienced, reliable, and cost-effective.
Top 10 Checklist for Selecting an Outsource Call Center Partner
The following call center checklist details key areas when starting your search for the best call center partner for your company’s requirements:
Technology: Does the company have the capacity and the technology to support your needs as you grow? Is the infrastructure sound? Are their automatic call distributor (ACD) and predictive dialer leading technology or outdated systems that need to be upgraded? Understand if the outsource call center has the technology, in case of an emergency or disaster, to meet your objectives. Determine if they have redundant systems and make sure they offer interactive voice response (IVR), email support, live chat support, social media services, and workforce management software.
Culture: A matching culture is essential when starting this important partnership. Interview the call center’s references and visit their facility to find out if their culture fits with your company culture. Your call center needs to be aligned with the ethics and personality of your business. When you visit, interview senior management, trainers, supervisors, and agents to get a feel for the overall corporate culture. To give customers an authentic feel for your company, your call center needs to be aligned with your brand.
Performance and Metrics: Evaluate the call center’s quality practices used to maximize performance. Analyze their training, account management, quality monitoring, remote call monitoring, incentives, and motivational practices to ensure they can perform as promised. Talk to several client references and look into the call center’s average handle time (AHT), speed to answer, first contact resolution, CSAT scores, and other metrics to get an idea of how they stack up and whether they’re in range of the performance you need. How fast and easily will you be able to get feedback on metrics? What reports are available and how will you get them? These are important questions to investigate.
- Capacity and Flexibility: Whether you’re seeking an outsource call center to manage 100% of your call volume or simply overflow, it is critical that the partner you choose has the flexibility and capacity to meet your current requirements as well as your peak call volume. Does the call center have the capacity to scale their services to match your peak call volume demand?
- Compliance, Certifications, and Security: Depending on your industry, be sure to check the outsource call center’s certifications, including whether they are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI), HIPAA, or ISO 9000. Be sure to ask how physically secure the call center is and what redundant systems and back-up plans are in place in case of a disaster or breach.
- Quality: When evaluating a call center, talk to several client references and ask them how the vendor is performing to get an idea of how effectively they handle calls. Quality is particularly important as the definition of quality can differ from call center to call center. Ensure that your potential vendor has a proven process in place for managing quality training and client CSAT scores. Make sure they have the ability to reward all calls and the ability for clients to dial in to listen to calls on a real-time basis.
- Specialization and Experience: Review the outsource call center’s experience and expertise in your industry or a related industry. Learn the focus of their services, including types of calls (inbound or outbound, location, onshore, nearshore, or offshore markets served) and language capabilities. Call centers can offer a lot more than inbound or outbound calling; they can provide social media monitoring, live web chat, outsourced email support, and BPO services. When considering a provider, think about any multichannel services you may also need.
- Awards/Recognition: Industry awards and trade group memberships are typically a good indicator of a good, professional business. When hiring a call center, inquire into what business groups it is a member of and whether they’ve won any industry awards. A good track record of positive associations and recognized performance usually indicates that you’re dealing with a solid, reputable company.
- Financial Stability and Strong Management Team: Ask how long the call center has been in business and determine if it’s financially stable. Get a copy of their audited financials from the last three years and interview their trade references. Does the management team have the expertise and credentials to drive performance for your business?
- The Right Fit Partner: Will you be your call center outsourcing vendor’s biggest or smallest client? Most call centers will say they’ll treat all clients the same, regardless of their size; however, usually the bigger companies get more attention. You never want to be the “small fish” in a big pond. Ask how your business ranks in size versus other clients. Be conscious of where you’d fit in with the call center vendor’s client list.
Making The Right Choice
Choosing the right outsource call center partner for your organization is a critical business decision. Keep these top ten criteria in mind when making the final decision. To optimize your relationship, make sure the call center outsourcing company you choose is not just a vendor, but also a strategic partner in your business.
Once you have used this checklist to narrow down several key vendors that meet these criteria, the next step is to create a Request for Proposal (RFP). An RFP lays out what you need in clear terms and allows call center companies to demonstrate how they can meet your needs. If a call center submits a strong proposal, it’s a good sign they’re the right provider for you.
Outsource Consultants has created a Call Center Request for Proposal (RFP) Template to help guide you through the call center criteria, in detail, when soliciting bids from potential call center vendors.
Considering adding a new outsource call center partner in 2018?
Outsource Consultants are call center experts with over 25 years of outsourcing industry experience that have spent thousands of hours vetting and analyzing the strengths and specializations of the industry-leading outsource call center vendors. If you’re considering call center outsourcing, simply call 888-766-4482 or request a free call center cost proposal today and we’ll help you find the solution that best fits your exact requirements.