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Outsourcing Fundamentals

By John Bartholomew

Call center outsourcing frees up time and resources to allow a company to focus on its core business. Hiring an expert saves time and money. Call center companies have expertise in specific industries such as telecommunications or technical support, making them industry experts and providing tremendous added value. Today's modern call centers use innovative technology such as software-based knowledge bases that enhance the ability to provide speedy, top-notch customer service

Outsourcing companies also provide access to a multitude of people, resources, and capabilities and are therefore able to ramp up quickly to handle immediate needs, such as a large increase in the volume of calls to meet market demands. Some call center companies offer specialized services such as consulting or professional services.

Perhaps the most important business decision to make after deciding to outsource is the decision to select a business partner that understands how to avoid common pitfalls and has experience you can trust. To evaluate your choices, be prepared to ask some detailed questions.

Questions to Ask Outsource Partners: Choosing the right call center outsourcing partner is essential to success and helps to ensure a successful vendor-client relationship. It's up to your service provider to prove its competency and to have solid, knowledgeable answers. The following questions will help provide some important guidelines.

  • How do I know if outsourcing is right for my company?

  • Why do companies choose to outsource to you?

  • Which specific professional or specialized services do you offer that set you apart from your competition?

  • How would you manage project implementation and the transition of my business?

  • If I'm going to hand over my customer interaction to you, my brand and reputation are vulnerable. How can you guarantee a seamless transition and how will you demonstrate commitment to my brand and company?

  • Will the outsourced services be transparent to my partners and customers?

  • How will you adhere to my company's values and maintain a high level of quality and service?

  • What are your agent-training process, including acculturation and accent training if you use offshore agents?

  • What are the specific metrics used to gauge success and how often will I receive performance updates?

  • Will references be provided?

  • What is your business continuity and disaster recovery plan? Is there a workable system in place that ensures ongoing business operations and minimal disruption to customers in an emergency?

  • How will you keep confidential data secure?

  • How do you make certain you're in compliance with regulations and laws?

  • What is the exit strategy if I'm dissatisfied with your service?

The most successful call center outsourcing relationships are a result of clearly communicated goals and expectations, for which both parties are held accountable. As you move forward, you must recognize that your outsourcer business partner deserves and expects the same level of attention you would provide to your own employees.

John Bartholomew is an executive Vice President at LiveBridge, a global call center services company headquartered in Portland, OR.