Alternatives to In-House Call Center Operations
While it’s the goal of most companies to make profit – earn more money than they spend – the role of the contact center often runs counter to this goal. Providing customer support is expensive: it requires a large workforce, skilled call center management, modern telecommunications technologies, a lot of software, and a physical space that needs to be lit, heated and cooled. Skipping the customer service is out of the question, of course, unless you want your customers to flee after one experience with your organization.
Some companies have deep enough pockets to make running a contact center in-house worth the cost. After all, today’s contact center can actually provide value, doubling as an inside sales force and social media marketing experiment. For smaller companies, maintaining a contact center is often an onerous burden. Doing it part-time, however, short-changes customers and risks harming sales. Companies in the latter category may wish to consider outsourcing their customer service operations. Business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions providers in Asia (India or the Philippines, commonly) provide companies of all sizes with a professional customer support and contact center presence without the high costs of running a center in-house.
“Outsourcing call center services can help in increasing the profits of your business,” according to a recent blog post by Outsource2India. “In fact, call center outsourcing can bring about an increase in all the aspects of your business, in terms of quality, performance and productivity. By outsourcing call center services, you can save in terms of manpower and infrastructure. Without having to invest in training costs or expensive software, you can utilize your resources for core business processes and experience profits.”
Other companies may shy away from lower-cost contact center outsourcing in Asia because they fear their customers will dislike agents with accents, or because they believe they will essentially lose control of their customer support function and call center management. For those companies, the work at home (WAH) model is one that should be explored. U.S.-based outsourcing companies that utilize the services of WAH agents can often charge less than call center-based companies, since they have lower overhead, according to a recent article by Blue Ocean Contact Centre’s Kim Campbell.
“Until recent years, many companies were hesitant to explore the work-at-home model for their outsourced call center agents,” wrote Campbell. “Even just five years ago, technology limitations were a barrier to having a remote agent solution that was as secure, robust, and stable as the call center environment. But the technical landscape has been evolving in leaps and bounds, and work-at-home capabilities are being driven by advancements in virtualization and cloud computing.”
Outsourcers today often employ a mix of center-based and home-based agents, so they can offer one or the other services to clients with preferences, or a mix of both. The result of home-based agent services is often similar in cost to many Asian outsourcers but minus the accent or American “personas” that some customers find distracting.
Contact center outsourcing can even be used in combination with in-house contact center operations if, for example, a company wants to be available to customers in other time zones for longer hours, or if the in-house center suddenly experiences unexpectedly high call volume. Whatever model you choose, technology today makes call center outsourcing more flexible to fit your needs and budget.
Edited by Alicia Young