Why do so many organisations of all sizes choose to outsource call centre services, and how do they go about ensuring a highly effective outsourced partnership? We caught up with John Price who shared with us what he believes to be the 15 key benefits of outsourcing call centre services…
It can be extremely difficult to predict call volumes during peak activity periods and inaccurate predictions can leave you unprepared to deal with high volumes. Call centres have the experience, expertise, and technology to accurately forecast these call volumes using historical data, tracking, and various other statistics. As a result, this will enable you to ensure you have sufficient resources in place so that you can effectively handle these calls quickly and efficiently. Moreover, hiring additional staff can be expensive, especially as they need to be paid during slow periods when they may not be needed. The great thing about outsourcing your call handling services is that the provider will have a large workforce of agents who can be allocated to your customer service requirements on an as-needed basis. In addition, having more agents will reduce wait times for your customers, which will subsequently increase their satisfaction.
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Call centers specialise in being able to provide customer service for a wide range of clients who all have different needs; whether that is phone, e-mail, live chat or social media. This makes them a great option when special circumstances may have you wanting temporary 24/7 service or support. Call centers have a lot of options that can meet your organisation’s specific needs, thus allowing you a cost-effective option for making temporary or quick changes to your customer support. This allows them to quickly deal with customers based on the level of service they require and they can also then prioritise calls based on these needs.
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As crucial as it is to seek new customers the importance of customer retention cannot be overstated; as many customer loyalty is arguably more difficult to keep during a time where people can quickly and easily browse products/services online and make direct comparisons. Outsourcing your customer support provides the attention your current customers need to stay happy, while simultaneously satisfying the increased levels of new enquiries. Typically when companies see a huge increase in new enquiries for their services they focus all their attention of that and forget about their current customers, which can be extremely costly in the long run.
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Another significant part of customer retention is finding ways to connect with your customers. More than just paying for your products/services, customers need to feel connected to the culture of your brand. The creation of strategic loyalty programs that reward customers for their loyalty will enable you to reinforce to your customers that they are valued. These programmes will result in even more customer enquiries and this is yet another reason why outsourcing your customer support services can be hugely beneficial, allowing you to focus on more business critical tasks.
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During the anticipated peak activity times it is likely that your company will have some form of seasonal promotions planned, which your customers need to be made aware of. Outsourced support services will take the time to promote these seasonal offers through integrated campaigns that are aimed towards your target audience and that effectively deal with all incoming enquiries on the back end of the campaign.
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As mentioned above, setting up a call center requires major investments in facilities, equipment, operations and staffing. Outsourced call centers allow these costs to be spread across many clients, who benefit by paying only for the services needed on a transactional or per-hour basis. Outsourcers can also “share” agents with multiple clients. The “shared-agent” approach reduces idle time and can deliver a lower cost-per-call rate for clients.
Call volumes rise and fall, so an in-house call center is at the mercy of periods of low volumes, when agents are idle. Outsourced call centers benefit from multiple clients, which helps reduce the severity of call volume peaks and valleys. Agents can work more efficiently, and managers can schedule staff more effectively, helping reduce costs-per-call. Also, outsourced call centers have the size and staff to ramp up quickly if call volumes spike due to seasonal activity or major marketing campaigns.
Outsourcers may have a specialized understanding of call center services for certain industries. The executives and managers of the outsourced call center will have valuable insights and proven strategies that can only come from years and years of experience. For example, DATAMARK has provided, for many years, contact center services for numerous customer-rewards programs, as well as call services for international customs and other shipping processes in the transportation and logistics industry.
In contrast to in-house agents, who are typically trained to handle a specific product or service, agents at outsourced call centers are trained to handle a variety of clients’ processes. Because of this, agents at outsourced call centers can quickly adapt to different call scenarios and present themselves as expert “call managers.” Take these kinds of skills and add bilingual fluency in Spanish and English, and you truly can truly make effective multicultural, multichannel connections that lead to satisfied, repeat customers.
Outsourcers are specialist service providers, and they compete to attract the best managers and support staff with years of experience with call center operations. In-house call centers, because they may be limited to providing customer care for one type of product or service, often find it difficult to develop the type of institutional knowledge and skills necessary for top-tier customer service. Outsourcers attract and retain specialists in call-center workforce planning, quality assurance, technology support and training.
Outsourcers’ business models are typically based on costs per transaction. To help assure call center profitability, they have invested in tools and expertise to precisely measure per-call costs. This level of cost detail is typically shared with the client on the monthly bill for services, which helps the client evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and overall operations. In-house call centers, on the other hand, often have costs that are difficult to tie specifically to every call or customer contact, which makes it challenging to manage costs and measure profitability.
Outsourcers understand the importance of capturing and analyzing call information to gain insights that will improve their clients’ processes. Outsourced call centers have experience with multiple clients and the data generated by many marketing and advertising campaigns. Technologies that outsourcers invest in–the costs of which are spread across multiple clients–include analysis platforms that help unlock useful insights from large amounts of raw data.
Outsourcing service level agreements (SLAs) require all customers’ calls and messages through other channels (such as email and web chat) to be handled professionally. Answer time and first-time call resolution are the highest priorities and some of the measures of call center quality. Outsourced call centers have monitoring tools and performance assessment and improvement plans in place to ensure SLAs are met. In-house call centers may not have the resources or expertise available for structured, continuous quality monitoring and performance improvement plans.
Outsourcers will research and invest in the best technologies for multichannel customer contact. These are software tools that offer features such as cloud-based platforms, VoIP, email, web chat, SMS text and social media monitoring. The latest in contact center technology may be too cost-prohibitive for some in-house call centers. Because outsourcers have multiple clients, they can spread out the cost of these platforms.
All customers would love to pick up a phone, send an email or jump into a web chat session and reach a live customer service representative at any time of the day, any day of the week. But that kind of around-the-clock availability isn’t a realistic in-house option for most organizations. But outsourcers, with call centers on both sides of the globe, can deliver service that “follows the sun”–and at a much lower cost compared to in-house.
As you can see there are many benefits to call centre outsourcing; however, it is essential that you choose the right company to suit your needs and maximise your benefits. At GFM ClearComms we have been delivering flexible, end-to-end call centre services and marketing solutions on behalf of for some of the largest and well known brands in the UK for over 28 years. To find out how you could benefit from outsourcing your call centre services to us please call 01206 226444 or alternatively email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.