Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

Can’t We Just Outsource It?

There are a lot of reasons why executives are drawn to outsourcing like moths to a flame. Financial pressure. Growth/acquisition management. Dated technology (and no heart for investing). Tight time lines for action. Need for flexible staffing model. Belief that contact center specialists are simply better at it.

like a moth to a flameBut there’s more to outsourcing than meets the eye:

  • It is not easy.
  • It is not fast.
  • It is not cheap. (They have to make a buck, too!)
  • It is not a lock that they’ll outperform your center.
  • It is not a temporary, get-you-over-the-hump solution.

Don’t get me wrong. Outsourcing can be a very effective strategy for customer contact management. But it takes realistic expectations, proper planning, the right partner, a carefully constructed contract, the right business processes, and the right resources on both sides to manage the relationship.

If outsourcing is in your future, here are some tips that can keep you from getting burned.

Choose a pricing model that fits your circumstances. Generally, a per minute or per contact is better suited to shared agents and situations where the Outsourcer has more control over agent scheduling. A per hour is better suited to dedicated agents and/or when you want to dictate staffing levels.

Recognize the impact of the pricing model on risk management with respect to agent productivity and service levels. If the fee structure is:

  • Hourly: You assume more responsibility based on schedules that you define.
  • Per Minute: They take on more risk, but your costs might inflate with higher than anticipated AHT.
  • Per Contact: They take on more risk, but they might shorten AHT at the expense of the customer experience.

Avoid getting “stuck” in contracts with fixed fees, minimums, specific number of FTEs, etc. Build in reviews or triggers to adjust pricing (model, rates), especially if you’re launching the relationship to address an urgent need or problem.

Build a robust Statement of Work for your implementation – project management, integration, training, testing, pilot, rollout, etc. Be explicit about your respective resource requirements and responsibilities. Meet the folks who’ll be assigned to your account and validate their qualifications.

Develop Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that make sense. Ensure real time and historical visibility to all appropriate systems and metrics. Include account reviews (e.g., monthly) with status and actions.

Assign Account Managers on their side and your side for mutual accountability. They’ll monitor quality and KPIs, conduct reviews, and define and execute action plans. Your manager should plan for routine and unexpected site visits to:

  • Meet with leadership, support functions, and front line staff
  • Conduct observations (remote and on site)
  • Visit training classes, assess new hires
  • See how your brand and culture are represented

Read my article from the November issue of Contact Center Pipeline for additional detail and pointers on choosing the right partner. Please contact us if you have specific questions regarding your circumstances. We’re happy to help!