Planning on outsourcing to a call center but don't know where to start? Read on for a complete guide on how to outsource call center services
No business can survive without customers. That means focusing on growing your customer base through customer outreach. It also means cultivating the relationship you have with your existing customers. Additionally, you have to be able to do this while still ensuring the high quality of your product. As your business grows, it can start to become a herculean task to keep up with all of these demands.
But do you know how to outsource call center services? Are you even sure that you should? This guide can help. We’ll cover what you should consider when deciding whether to outsource. We’ll also go over some of the key things you should look for during the center outsourcing process to ensure you get the most out of your new partnership.
Why Outsource Your Call Center
Since customer service is so important, it seems counter-intuitive to outsource your customer service needs to an external call center. However, there are several reasons that outsourcing call center services may make sense for your business:
Cost – Probably the top reason people turn to outsourcing is to save costs. Especially as your business grows, the costs of maintaining an in-house call center can become onerous. From labor and technology to the simple cost of maintaining a dedicated space for your call center, the savings you can find by outsourcing call center service may end up being persuasive.
Focus – For small businesses especially, focus is one of the most important elements of success. All sorts of problems arise for small business owners, and there’s only so much bandwidth you have to deal with them all. If you find that the energy you have to expend on customer relations is hurting your ability to run the other elements of your business, outsourcing call center services may be your answer.
Expertise – Not everyone is exemplary at customer service, and that’s okay. Outsourced call centers have professionals whose sole focus is customer relations. If it’s not your forte, you may want to consider hiring the experts.
Evaluating Types of Call Centers
Once you decide to outsource, there are several factors you need to consider. The first step is to evaluate your business and determine what it is you’re looking for. This can include deciding whether or not you will need to be outsourcing administrative tasks or customer care only. Not all call centers do the same thing, and by knowing what you need, you’ll know where to start looking. The main types of call centers are:
Inbound – This type of call center focuses on incoming calls from your customers. This could be for customer support, appointment setting, dealing with complaints, dealing with purchases, or simply answering calls and transferring based on customer needs. Whatever reason a customer had to reach out, an inbound call center service should be equipped to deal with it.
Outbound – If inbound focuses on customers who are calling you, it follows that outbound calls would be focused on reaching out to customers. While an outbound call center service is mostly associated with sales, there are other reasons you may be calling customers, such as for informational or survey purposes.
Automated – A cost-saving measure that allows a call center to limit the number of employees needed is to use an automated system for some tasks like voicemail or basic info. Just be careful not to rely too much on automation. As anyone who has had to navigate an automated menu can tell you, it can quickly become a frustrating task.
Omnichannel – Live chat, live texting, and other more modern forms of communication can add value to your call center. Especially as younger consumers become less comfortable talking on the phone, these options give them another avenue to reach out. And they can often be easily available 24/7.
Once you know what you need, it’s time to shop around. There’s much to consider when trying to find the right partner for your business and cost is just one of those considerations. But since it is likely a major reason you looked to outsource in the first place you should have some idea of what you should expect to pay.
Inbound Call Center Services Costs
The call center outsourcing cost you can expect to find will be determined by a few different factors including the type of call center you partner with. When working with inbound call centers, they will likely model their costs in one of two ways:
Shared – This is when you are one client of a call center who works with many different businesses. In this model, you will likely pay based on the amount of time representatives spend on your calls. In the US and Canada that is likely to be around $0.75 - $1.25 per minute. Offshore, you may be able to find prices more in the $0.30 - $0.45 per minute range.
Dedicated – As the name suggests, this model has agents dedicated specifically to your business. If you deal with high call volumes or you need a call center agent with unique knowledge this may be worth the extra cost. Rates start at $8 - $15 per hour offshore. In the US and Canada, it will be closer to $20 - $30.
Outbound Call Center Services Costs
Since an outbound call center initiates calls on behalf of your business, it has different models that it uses for costs. Because of that, most pricing will be on an hourly basis. However, there are also call centers that will work purely off of commission (though as this puts the call center at risk, the commission will likely be set quite high). Other centers will use a hybrid model that blends base hourly with commission bonuses for high performers.
The other factor to consider with both outbound and inbound call center services is location. Prices vary greatly depending on where the center is located. A few examples of what you might expect for outbound centers:
US/Canada – $20 - $30 per hour
Africa/Middle East – $15 - $20 per hour
Latin America – $8 - $14 per hour
India – $6 - $10 per hour
Cost isn’t the only consideration when it comes to choosing a partner. Often equally important, if not more important, is the ability to track the call center’s performance. One of the best ways to do this is by setting up a system of key performance indicators (KPIs) that your partner can provide you to show how things are going. Some examples of KPIs include:
Answer time – This shows how long it took for an incoming phone call to be answered. For an outbound center, something like the percentage of calls answered may be a similar KPI.
Handle time – This metric, which is useful for both inbound and outbound centers, shows how long each call lasts.
First call resolution – This KPI shows how many incoming calls are resolved the first time as opposed to those who need to call back to find a resolution to their issue. For outbound centers, the focus may be more on the percentage of leads that become sales.
Customer satisfaction – This is pretty straightforward and can be captured by voluntary customer surveys after the call. It can be used on both outbound and inbound calls.
The final thing you will want to consider before entering into an outsourcing partnership is how amenable your new partners are to change. This could be a question of scalability if you think your business is likely to grow. It can also be in response to disappointing KPIs. Knowing that your new partners will work with you to achieve the best results ensures that you’ll maintain a strong partnership in the future.
Outsourcing Through Nexa
At Nexa, we know outsourcing is a big decision. That’s why we try to make it as easy on you as possible. We offer a variety of services from inbound and outbound sales to live chat powered by real people. We also offer analytical tools so you can be sure that while your costs are being reduced, your quality of service is not.
If you think your business is at the point where outsourcing makes sense for you, contact us to find out about all the benefits of partnering with Nexa.