Choosing a contact center outsourcer is hard – evaluate candidates over 8 dimensions

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Outsourcing contact center operations helps organizations deliver better customer service. In Forrester’s recent survey of 304 North American and European network and telecommunications decision-makers, we found that nearly 20% have already outsourced some or all of their contact center seats or are very interested in doing so. Choosing to outsource should not be based on cost-considerations alone. Select an outsourcer carefully. Outsourcers need to provide an environment that delivers quality customer service in a cost-effective manner. When looking for providers, evaluate their capability to:

  • Onboard new customers. Outsourcers should be able to communicate a well-defined process and timeline for onboarding a new customer, and articulate the commitments that both the outsourcer and the customer need to meet for a successful onboarding process. The outsourcer should also be able to guarantee phased service level agreements (SLAs) for the length of onboarding process.
  • Report key metrics. Comprehensive reporting should accompany all engagements and should be available for review at any time. Identify the types of operational reports that you will have access to. Evaluate the ability to customize reports.
  • Adhere to quality standards. Make sure that outsourcers comply with quality standards such as Six Sigma and Customer Operation Performance Center (COPC) that provide guidelines for managing operations and that ensure consistency for delivering services.
  • Maintain advanced technology platforms. Evaluate the outsourcer’s breadth of communication channels supported (voice, email, chat, sms, social etc). Audit the contact center, workforce optimization, business intelligence technologies used in order to determine their ability to deliver optimized customer service. Understand the outsourcer’s timeline for technology innovation.
  • Provide a secure, redundant network. Outsourcers need to provide a secure, redundant network infrastructure to support high traffic volumes and withstand emergency situations like power outages or weather disruptions. Drill into their backup and failover capabilities to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Attract agents with suitable skillsets. It is important that an outsourcer’s delivery location can attract agents with the right educational background and technical skills who are familiar with the products or services that they will be tasked to support.
  • Coach and train agents. Contact centers have notoriously high turnover rates for personnel which is typically attributed to the agent not having the knowledge and tools to effectively service customers, or have access to further skills development or a career path.Look for outsourcers that offer comprehensive training in the products and skills agents need to support your customers and who will provide continuous coaching throughout the agent’s career as well as career advancement opportunities.
  • Invest in an ongoing partnership. Choose an outsourcer that will actively partner with you for the duration in the relationship, where both parties have a stake in the maintenance of a partnership. Some vendors offer formal contracts which explicitly state the rewards or penalties for achieving improved customer service and cost reduction outcomes.

Check out my recent report on outsourcing which profiles 8 very different outsourcing vendors: Alpine Access, Convergys, LiveOps, Sitel, TeleTech, Teleperformance, West and ACS, now a Xerox company.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Leggett
Kate serves Business Process Professionals. She is a leading expert on customer service strategies. Her research focuses on helping organizations establish and validate customer service strategies strategies, prioritize and focus customer service projects, facilitate customer service vendor selection, and plan for project success.

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