October 03, 2014
Many companies today find it challenging to support their incoming customer communications. The nature of business today means that customers are coming at a company via multiple channels – the telephone, the Web site, e-mail, SMS, mobile apps, in-person and more. These customers expect fast resolution and a personalized customer support experience regardless of which channel they choose, even if they use multiple channels for a single transaction.
It’s a lot of balls to juggle if you plan to get inbound customer support right. For this reason, many companies flounder when tasked to build an outbound customer support and sales program. Outbound skills are very different from inbound skills, and not many agents will be able to handle both effectively. Smart companies often outsource their outbound campaigns to professionals who have the right equipment, the right infrastructure, the right skills and the right experience.
There is no shortage of companies that will offer to provide outbound services for your company. While many organizations look no further than the price tag ( – ), there’s a lot more to it than that. An inept outbound campaign will cost you customers, revenue and opportunities, so it’s important to choose wisely in the decision process, according to a by Flavio Martins writing for the Web site WinTheCustomer. Some tips to consider when picking an outbound provider include:
The right infrastructure. While the focus is often on people and price, it’s critical to examine the outsourcers technological capabilities to ensure they will mesh well with your own.
“Outbound call center services should possess the necessary infrastructure and facilities for carrying out the business operations,” wrote Martins. “This includes, excellent communication lines for telephones and internet connectivity, provision for data storage and backup, data mining facilities, exclusive data centers from where data can be restored in case of system crashes.
The ability to monitor. If an outsourcer doesn’t want you to watch the activity in the outbound campaign in real-time, ask yourself what the organization is hiding. You should be able to monitor performance and metrics and listen in to calls, just as you would in an in-house contact center.
How do you pay? Different outsourced services providers charge in different ways. Are you paying per agent hour? Per lead? Paying a premium for performance standards that exceed baseline? It’s important to ask these details up front and compare and contrast your options.
Their English skills. Many companies use organizations abroad in order to keep costs down. While the provider will no doubt use the best English speaker in the call center as an example, it’s important you hear a cross-section of calls from all agents to ensure you’re not paying for service delivered by agents who will be incomprehensible to your customers.
Their outbound agent skills. Outbound often has a high turnover rate, but your business will best benefit if the agents who are calling your customers have skills and experience under their belts. Before you sign a contract, check the outsourcer’s turnover rates to make sure you won’t have a bunch of rookies reaching out to your customers. Ask the potential outsourcer about its training processes.
Systems integration. A successful outsourced services provider relationship may involve sharing information and processes such as workforce management or your CRM database. Be sure this can be accomplished easily, or you’ll be buying yourself new headaches.
Good managers. This is a key to sucesss. If you don’t feel confident the services provider has managers on staff who are skilled, knowledgeable and willing to collaborate with you, look elsewhere.
While outsourced outbound contact center services are a good option for many companies who wish to put their outbound campaigns in the hands of professionals, it’s critical to examine the details. There are vast chasms of quality between different outsourced services providers. Before you look, know what you want.