Important Factors When Selecting an Outsource Call Center

Selecting a call center is a decision that many organizations in the United States must make in order to remain competitive or to handle increased call volume.

A call center or contact center provides a variety of services and reside in almost every country. Just like any other industry they have specializations and exist in a number of sizes such as startups, boutique centers, and large multi-country centers that will compete for your business.

Whether selecting a telemarketing partner is the result of cost considerations, improvements in customer service or some other reason, there are a number of factors that need to be considered before finally selecting your outsource partner. If your organization needs additional services such as clerical, back office or accounting services, then you need to consider if your outsource partner can handle all of the functions you require.

First you need to decide, based on the reason for moving the specific functions to a contact center, where you want the center to be located. You have three options; onshore (in the United States), near shore (Canada, Central or South America and the Caribbean) and offshore (everywhere else but most are in India or the Philippines).

Each area has its pluses and minuses which need to be carefully matched to the process you want to outsource. If neutral accents and knowledge of U.S. culture is needed then those considerations may target specific countries or call centers that specialize in calls to and from the U.S.

If you are selecting a center to make outbound sales calls to consumers then it needs to provide different agent skills then selling business to business and also must follow different federal compliance guidelines. The agents should not have accents that interfere with the process and some cultural understanding of the country in which you market your goods and services. When choosing a center for outbound sales keep in mind who will supply the calling list and, if calls are made to consumers (other than survey, nonprofit or political calls, the data list must be opt-in or DNC compliant.

If the call center receives customer payment by credit card then the call center needs to either be PCI compliant or adhere to your company’s PCI compliance program.

If the payment is made through the telephone company either land line or mobile, then there are a number of phone company rules and FTC regulations along with specific rules and processes for refunds and conflict resolution.

If your primary concern is customer service, then you need to ask how the calls are distributed to the agents and does the center have 24/7/365 capabilities if necessary and can they maintain the required services levels at all times of the day.

When choosing an outsource telemarketing company training is critical since they will become a very visible arm of your organization. How they train their agents including product knowledge, script adherence and accent neutralization affects your customer experience. Does the outsource call center have their own quality assurance program and should you spot check? What is the management to agent ratio? These considerations are just a few that need to fit within the service levels that you expect from an outsource partner.

Don’t forget to match your reporting requirements with the call center capabilities. You will want specific metrics regarding the calling lists used and dispositions of outbound and inbound calls. If you need to archive call recordings, the dialer software used by the call center should be able to handle this seamlessly.

This is a general overview of just some of the factors that must be included an any evaluation of outsource call centers or the construction of an RFP.

When selecting a call center, independent consultants are often employed to assist companies develop the strategy and design that is consistent with their needs.