In the past, contact centers got a bad rap for being cost centers. So it’s not surprising that outsourcing decisions were largely based on costs savings. Fast forward to 2013, and we see a lot of changes. Contact centers are now essential to winning over customers, boosting sales and, given the growing number of tech-savvy Millennial consumers, amplifying a company’s brand online.
As I look ahead to 2013, I’ve identified four areas that will be top of mind in the contact center outsourcing industry.
Finding the right fit: In the past companies have suffered from having too many outsourcing providers leading to fragmented relationships that just don’t work. Identifying both the right-sized partners (not necessarily the big name, tier one providers) and the right number of partners will become increasingly important in the years ahead. This ‘right-sizing’ is needed to ensure that companies get the necessary attention and investment they need from their providers.
Culture gets big: The emphasis on cultural compatibility in contact center outsourcing will be big. Request for proposal questions focused on efficiency and productivity will soon share time with questions around culture and values. It will become more important for companies to build true partnerships with providers that can represent their culture and brand, regardless of location.
This is a logical step in the evolution of outsourcing. Cost savings and efficiencies are captured early in a relationship. Many of these outsourcing relationships are at the “what now?” stage. A relationship that remains focused on minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency is guaranteed to achieve lower customer satisfaction because maximizing the customer experience is not a priority.
Agents in demand: Expect another level of maturity in the call center world. Call center agents will be even more skilled, educated, and in demand to deal with increasingly savvy, knowledgeable customers. This will occur in all locations across the world, and especially in areas where agents can speak multiple languages. With call centers considered a career path in many countries, the talent pool will continue to grow and so will the demand.
The best call center employers will need tech savvy employees to match their customers. That means a work force increasingly made up of Millennials. Their desire to interact socially all day, even at work enables them to keep pace with the latest communications channels and, not to mention, the touch points preferred by your own customers. Leveraging this knowledge and talent pool will be a big plus for call centers going forward.
Outsourcing to gain a cultural edge: There’s that word again – culture! Companies will use outsourcing to gain a cultural, and competitive, edge. Relationships with a new outsourcing partner can be moulded from the beginning. The new partnership doesn’t come with the history of existing departments and processes. For many companies, it can be viewed as an opportunity to re-invent a brand or product that requires a fresh start.
However, outsourcing a contact center is different than other forms of outsourcing. The contact center has a major impact on how your brand is perceived, your market success and ultimately your sales growth. A strategic contact center partnership will take care of your customers before someone else does.