Fundamentals of a Call Center Partnership
When you finally make the big decision to outsource some portion of your customer service effort to a third-party call center, you are entering into a partnership intended to serve your customers better.
Scary as it seems, almost immediately these new call agents will become an extension of your own customer-facing team, talking to YOUR customers and as such, each side has a vital role to play to ensure the success of the new partnership.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself, “What can go wrong?” As such, there are many factors to consider. It’s important to analyze these factors and prepare the role your company needs to play prior to entering into a partnership as this will guarantee the success of the endeavor. Each piece is equally important or the partnership may fail to meet its goals, and the losers will be the company customers.
Communication and Travel
Keeping outsourced call teams responding consistently to customer demands depends on continuous communications between the company and the center. Daily conference, regular reporting, and when necessary easy travel to the third- party site are all fundamentals of good communication.
Any project manager who has completed a handful of international projects will recognize that communication is much more than an email passed back and forth. The differences between what is said and what is meant can be very different between cultures. A solid cultural and verbal communication playing field is fundamental to creating the focus, objective, and purpose that leads to excellent results.
Ideally, the center management team and agents will have ample experience interacting with your culture, with a clear ability to communicate within this cultural context. This in itself will lead to less information being misconstrued, misrepresented, or missed altogether.
In the effort of better communications, site visits are also equally important. No partnership was ever built on a piece of paper. The very best way to transmit the excellence of your own corporate culture is to get on site and interact with your new customer service team. In many cases, sending a trainer or supervisor to the site for medium periods of time is also an excellent way to forge a solid customer serving machine.
In any situation that involves travel, you’ll want to consider the impact that time zones and travel distance play on your ability to conduct business. Also, when traveling to remote areas of the world, safety and comfort plays an important role. Consider center sites that are located on direct flights from your corporate headquarters.
Related Article: Is the Cost of Business Process Outsourcing Worth it?
The basis of good customer service is transmitting basic business values to the customer. Every company wants to partner with another company who values similar things, but when it comes to a cross-cultural partnerships this may get trickier.
The Journal of Moral Education lists the values within a multicultural context as ones that include recognition and cohesion, but what does that really mean from a business standpoint?
Let’s start by looking at this from a simplified perspective and assume that you value growth and abhor fraud. Seeking out a third- party who feels the same will be simple as those are values that every company should have. However, assuring that your partner understands what you mean by “growth” and “fraud” is equally important.
Consider for a moment which actions have traditionally created strong growth in your own culture and which actions have often been highlighted as fraudulent. Those actions create the starting point for how you communicate about the topic. In order to start from a similar stance with your third-party call center, then the center’s management will need to have ample experience interacting with your culture.
It’s not impossible to find a starting point that you can both agree upon when it comes to business values, in the event that there’s no shared cultural experiences. However, having a similar starting point from the first moment of contact will make communication easier, and it will also speed up the flow up business which help you to meet your goals in a timely manner.
Call centers often employ agents in multiple verticals/industries in various countries around the world, so you may have a rich pool of experience from which to choose from.
In the best scenario the center will already be trained in your vertical, ie. healthcare customer service in the USA, and in that situation, there will be a lower “new employee” learning curve allowing your agents to begin working at full speed rather quickly.
I some cases the center isn’t fully trained in your particular vertical, but they have extensive knowledge in a similar vertical that translates easily for your own needs. In other cases, the knowledge base is far less and you may need to train the center’s management and your own agents on common issues and the means to resolve them.
Even if the center isn’t already trained in your vertical, they still come with experience within the customer service call center setting, and this experience translates across every vertical. Your agents will come well prepared to demonstrate exceptional customer service etiquette which you can also use as a baseline to help in-house employees.
Regardless of the expertise level of the center and your agents you should still be prepared to train them on your company’s values, expectations, and goals. The agents may do a great job at customer service, but it’s the personalization from your company that turns them into your personal agents and advocates. Strong growth depends on “multiple [business experts working together] to feed the collective view of what’s important and what’s critical.”
Related Article: 5 Overlooked Reasons to Outsource Your Customer Service Team
When each party brings a high level of interest and engagement to the project, then they’re relying on the other party to do the same.
When you decide which third party will represent your company and service your customers, then you’ll start by preparing your team to meet your goals. In doing so, you should consider helping when it comes to hiring your individual agents, training them (like previously mentioned), goal setting, quality assurance monitoring, error correction, and reporting.
It’s important for your company to continue working with the center to ensure your company’s standards are being met, especially as expectations and company goals shift over time.
When you commit to helping the external team stay as informed as the internal team, then you begin to see the call center as an extension of the internal team and as a partner where each entity has a strong and complementary role to play.
Here at ABC Marketing Services, we:
- have lived and worked in your culture
- know your language and demonstrate little or no accent
- understand the foundations of your value system
- have expertise in multiple verticals
- are based in easy to reach, travel-friendly locations
- are ready and excited to serve your customers with a smile
We help you understand every step of the process and show you how you can best support the project in order to see the greatest return for your money.
Contact ABC Marketing Services today, and let’s get started on outlining your project needs.