How to Choose the Best Outsourced Contact Center (For You)

by Andrew O'Brien in Andrew O'Brien, Customer Service Outsourcing, Order Management

There are an estimated 4000 to 5000 outsourced contact centers in North America.  Whittling down the list to a few potential partners that are the right outsourced contact center fit for your brand can be perplexing and frustrating if you’re unsure what you’re looking for.

Of course, at a minimum you need to find a center that is capable of operating your customer processes and meeting your expectations around key metrics. However, to achieve a truly strategic partnership, you also need to partner with a call center that meshes well with your culture and can deliver on your brand’s customer service promise.
To help you find the best outsourced contact center, we’ve outlined four selection criteria that will dig deeper than the surface-level marketing speak.

  1. Cultural Fit: How do you measure this? “Cultural fit” is a difficult thing to quantify. This type of subjective criteria is usually best measured by seeing the center firsthand on a contact center tour. As you walk the floor of a potential partner’s center, observe agents, coaches, and managers interacting in their environment. Ask yourself some questions. Does the center feel like “home”?  Are you getting that “gut feel” that would indicate you’re choosing the best fit for your organization? The environment of a contact center can tell you more about your cultural compatibility than any website or brochure.
  2. KPIs: In the outsourced contact center world, we measure it all. Average Handle Time, Speed to Answer, First Contact Resolution, various percentages on XYZ, and the list goes on. A prerequisite to any partnership is establishing measureable and reasonable KPIs your outsourced contact center partner will adhere to. During the selection or evaluation process, share your own center’s current metrics and open up a conversation about metrics and KPIs. Striving for improved performance is a good reason to outsource: share both current state and desired state on KPIs. And get your potential partner to share their metrics or open up about other call center measures like Agent Attrition and Productivity. This open, honest discussion on KPIs is where trust is first established.
  3. Strength of Operations: Without question, a potential partner should be able to talk expertly about their ability to manage your inbound customer service processes. However, when evaluating a center’s operations, focusing on customer processes may cause you to neglect key organizational processes. Can you trust your potential partner to deliver best practices in HR? Is their approach to facilities and technology infrastructure management aligned with how you operate? How do your potential outsourced contact center partners operate processes like training agents, scheduling agents, and integrating contact center technology? Your partner should be able to demonstrate core competencies in managing people, facilities, and technology while delivering on your KPIs. If one of those foundational structures is weak, you may be exposing your own business to risk.
  4. Outsourced Contact Center Awards: Has someone else already done some heavy lifting for you by vetting out the best contact center outsourcers? Organizations like Contact Center World reward companies who receive high reviews from peers and who are utilizing contact center best practices. You can develop a shortlist by searching for things like “Best Outsourced Contact Center” or by searching for specific categories like “Best Social Media Contact Center Outsourcer.”

Can they deliver? Ultimately, this is the question that you want to confidently respond with a wholehearted, “YES!” In order to reach that point, you need to investigate the prerequisites, but you also need to gain deeper levels of understanding on the less tangible fit between your company and your outsourced contact center partner. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential outsourced contact center partner the tough questions.

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