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What is call center outsourcing?


The Team at CallMiner

November 11, 2019

Contact center call center outsourcing
Contact center call center outsourcing

Updated June 3, 2024

Presenting your customers with a functional resource that they can turn to if they encounter any difficulties in using your products or services is no small feat.

Providing such a service often requires a significant investment in personnel, training, and maintenance, not to mention ongoing management and the software needed to support the process. For companies looking to make their customer support more cost-effective, outsourcing can be a valid course of action.

However, there are a number of factors to consider before resorting to this method of streamlining customer interactions. Here, we’ll delve into call center outsourcing services and cover a few of the primary concerns regarding call center outsourcing. We’ll also provide valuable tips and best practices for handling the process more efficiently.

In this article:

  • What is call center outsourcing?
  • What types of call center services can be outsourced?
  • Advantages of call center outsourcing
  • Disadvantages of call center outsourcing
  • Expert call center outsourcing tips
  • Best practices for outsourcing your call center
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What is call center outsourcing?

Outsourcing is the use of contracted labor from sources outside of your company. Your company allows another to take over specific functions—usually to enable internal efforts to focus on the company’s core competencies.

Outsourced specialists handle non-essential facets of your operations, following instructions given to them by your business. This approach balances the cost of in-house functions with external talent to boost your business’s bottom line.

What types of call center services can be outsourced?

There are various types of call center outsourcing services that companies can utilize to meet their specific needs, from customer support to technical assistance. Here are some common types of call center outsourcing services:

Inbound call center services

Inbound call center services involve handling incoming calls from customers. This may include answering queries, resolving problems, taking orders, and providing information. Inbound call centers are crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Here are a few specific examples of inbound call center services that companies can outsource:

Help desk and technical support services: Help desk and technical support services provide customer support for IT-related problems. This could include assisting with password resets, software installations, network troubleshooting, and other technical issues. Help desk call centers ensure that customers have access to timely and effective technical assistance.

Customer service support: Customer service support involves handling a wide range of customer inquiries and issues. This could include product information, account inquiries, order processing, complaints resolution, and more. Customer service call centers play a vital role in building positive relationships with customers.

Virtual receptionist services: Virtual receptionist services provide professional call handling and customer support for businesses that don't have a receptionist on staff. Virtual receptionists can answer calls, take messages, schedule appointments, and provide general information about the company.

Multilingual call center services: Multilingual call center services cater to customers who speak different languages. These call centers have agents who are fluent in multiple languages, allowing businesses to serve diverse customer bases effectively. Multilingual call center outsourcing is essential for global businesses looking to expand their reach.

Outbound call center services

Outbound call center services involve making outgoing calls to customers. This could be for telemarketing, appointment setting, customer surveys, or follow-up calls. Some specific examples of outbound call center services that can be outsourced include:

Sales and lead generation services: Sales and lead generation services involve contacting potential customers to promote products or services and generate leads. Call center agents are trained to effectively engage with prospects, showcase offerings, and convert leads into sales opportunities.

Collections and debt recovery services: Professional collection agencies manage the process of recovering unpaid customer debts on behalf of their clients. These services are essential for businesses that need to manage outstanding accounts receivable and ensure cash flow without dedicating significant internal resources to the often time-consuming and challenging task of debt collection.

Appointment-setting services: Appointment-setting services handle scheduling appointments for services or consultations with potential clients or customers. They also confirm and remind customers of appointments, reschedule missed and canceled appointments, and follow up with prospects who have expressed interest but haven’t yet scheduled an appointment.

Advantages of call center outsourcing

There are multiple reasons for a company to consider outsourcing as a valid approach to solving their labor concerns. In many cases, outsourcing allows a business to effectively offer its customers services it otherwise would not be financially well-positioned enough to offer or would find outright impossible to provide altogether.

The otherwise impossible becomes quite manageable through outsourcing as costs can be pared down, while efficiency is notably ramped up. By outsourcing certain functions, companies can reduce the cost of in-house operations and reallocate those funds to other areas, such as product development or marketing.

Additionally, by outsourcing to companies with specialized expertise, your business will offer better service to your customers than could be achieved in-house at the same cost.

Lower costs

Pure cost-cutting through offshore outsourcing has been put on the backburner in favor of more efficiency-minded objectives, but your business’s bottom line should still be on the radar as a good reason to outsource certain functions. The potential for savings using offshore teams and outsourced talent pools can have a powerful impact on your company’s profit margin.

On-demand service

A key feature of adopting an outsourcing model for certain ongoing processes within your business is the flexibility it affords you. As new projects grow and mature, it may become necessary to scale certain facets and talent pools while others are cut or downsized.

Outsourcing puts you in a much more strategic position to make strong, incisive budgeting decisions relatively quickly.

Better service quality

Thanks to the economy of scale, outsourcing providers can often deliver even greater customer experiences than smaller, more costly in-house teams that specialize in the same tasks. Outsourced teams often possess niche experience and specialized toolsets for handling the types of tasks they offer, thereby reducing costs and streamlining production/performance.

Disadvantages of call center outsourcing

Outsourcing as a process is not without its snags. Thankfully most outsourcing inefficiencies can be mitigated with proper planning before making a decision.

Slower issue resolutions

With increased procedural complexities and physical distance between members of your customer service team, individual issues can end up being handled more slowly than before. This problem can be controlled by establishing a clear set of rules for issue escalation and ensuring it is executed as described.

Language barriers

Outsourcing to teams in other territories can significantly improve the customer experience. Language differences and noticeable accents could negatively impact customer relationships if issues are needlessly complicated on this basis alone.

Ensuring the team members in charge of handling your workload are well-versed in your customers’ native tongue can help curb problems with comprehension on both ends.

Expert call center outsourcing tips

Look for flexible providers

Look for providers with the ability to offer competent outsourcing in a variety of business processes. Outsourcing larger portions of the customer lifecycle makes it easier for your business to be agile where it matters.

Make customer satisfaction your priority

No matter what outsourcing approach is employed, it’s imperative to remember your customers’ needs and expectations throughout the process.

Your clients don’t necessarily need to know how their needs are being met. They will, however, be quick to notice lapses in efficiency and gaps in the CRM chain.

Decide on ‘what’ before ‘who’

It’s common for businesses interested in incorporating outsourcing into their models to compare their options among the many providers on the market as they define their strategy. However, this approach is backward and best avoided.

Instead, before looking for providers, aim to determine just what your company can and should consider outsourcing—be it CRM, complaints handling, or some other aspect.

Best practices for outsourcing your call center

Ensure cultural alignment

Cultural alignment significantly impacts the success of your customer service operations and, by extension, overall business performance. Evaluate potential outsourcing partners for their understanding of and alignment with your company's culture and the culture of your target market. Assess their experience with similar markets or industries.

Agents must not only understand but also embody the brand’s values and image. Agents who understand their customers' values and expectations are better equipped to empathize with them and provide tailored customer service.

When outsourced call center agents are culturally aligned, they’re more likely to provide positive and relatable customer experiences. Positive interactions increase customer loyalty and retention, as customers feel more valued and understood.

Keep mission-critical concerns in-house

Processes that are especially integral to your company’s well-being should be kept in-house and instead handled with care by a dedicated team of employees. Outsourcing opens the door to issues with regulatory compliance, operational insecurity, and more when it comes to top-secret development plans, core product/service designs, etc.

Define procedures in detail

Companies operating in industries with strict compliance requirements should pay close attention to the clarity with which they relay their own procedural imperatives to prospective outsourcing providers. Instructions should be provided in explicit detail for each function you intend to outsource so that it can be handled smoothly.

Implement monitoring & quality control technology

Monitoring and quality control technology plays a crucial role in call center outsourcing. It ensures that every customer interaction meets the required standards and aligns with the company's objectives. This consistency is critical when different agents across various shifts and locations handle customer service tasks.

Technologies such as call monitoring and conversation intelligence provide objective data on agent performance. Solutions like CallMiner offer real-time agent guidance to support agents in meeting compliance requirements, overcoming knowledge gaps, and navigating challenging interactions.

Final thoughts

Call center outsourcing is a complex topic with many factors worth considering before diving in. However, the improvements in service breadth, uptime, costs, and efficiency continue to make it a worthwhile optimization for many business models.

When outsourcing call center services, it’s imperative to proactively measure and manage quality and performance. AI-driven conversation intelligence solutions like CallMiner analyze 100% of customer interactions, giving you vital real-time insights into call center operations. This visibility is vital when outsourcing call center services to ensure brand alignment, maintain compliance, provide an exceptional customer experience, and drive business results.

Frequently asked questions

What is an outsource call center?

An outsource call center is a third-party organization hired by companies to manage customer interactions, such as customer support, technical help, or telemarketing services. This arrangement allows businesses to handle high volumes of calls and other communications without having to maintain these capabilities in-house.

How much does it cost to outsource a call center?

The cost to outsource a call center can vary widely based on factors such as location, services provided, and the complexity of tasks. Prices might range from as low as $8 to $50 per hour per agent.

Factors influencing cost include the quality of service, the geographical location of the call center, and the specific needs of the business, such as language requirements or technical support level.

What is customer service outsourcing?

Customer service outsourcing involves hiring a third-party service provider to handle customer service operations, including answering inquiries, resolving issues, processing returns, and offering technical support. This allows businesses to focus on core activities and can lead to cost savings, enhanced service quality, and improved customer satisfaction.

Is outsourcing high risk?

Outsourcing can involve risks such as quality control issues, cultural and communication misunderstandings, and data security concerns. However, these risks can be mitigated through careful selection of outsourcing partners, clear contract terms, rigorous training, and strict compliance with security standards.

Effective management and regular monitoring can also ensure that outsourcing provides its intended benefits without exposing the business to undue risk.

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