Outsourcing, the practice of hiring another company to carry out a business operation, is increasingly popular due to its cost-effective nature and convenience.
And customer support is one of the most commonly outsourced business functions.
Many companies that have opted for call center outsourcing have experienced an improvement in customer satisfaction levels and business growth.
In this article, we’ll discuss what call center outsourcing is, its six advantages, and three challenges. We’ll also cover the types of services you can outsource and the top three call center services for outsourcing.
Finally, we’ll highlight five best practices for effective call center outsourcing.
This article includes:
(Click on a link to go to a particular section)
- What is Call Center Outsourcing?
- 6 Advantages of Call Center Outsourcing
- 3 Challenges of Call Center Outsourcing
- 2 Types of Call Center Services You Can Outsource
- Top 3 Call Center Services for Outsourcing
- 5 Best Practices for Effective Call Center Outsourcing
Let’s get started.
What is call center outsourcing?
Call center outsourcing is the business strategy of hiring a third-party company to handle your company’s customer support.
Some of the most common call center outsourcing services include:
- Technical support.
- IT help desk support.
- Sales support.
- Order management support.
Want to know how outsourcing works?
Check out our comprehensive outsourcing guide.
According to a study, IT and telecom, BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance), healthcare, and retail industry are major outsourcers of call center solutions. Firms from these industries outsource inbound and outbound support to a third-party entity in a suitable destination.
Now, based on the country where the third-party company is located, you can classify outsourcing into:
- Nearshore outsourcing: When the hired company is located in a neighboring country.
- Offshore outsourcing: When the hired company is located in a distant country.
- Domestic outsourcing: When the hired company is located in the same country.
Most companies prefer offshore outsourcing due to the lower cost associated with it.
6 advantages of call center outsourcing
1. Lower costs
Customer service outsourcing is usually a cost-saving approach depending on the country you outsource to.
The resources essential for call center functioning are cheaper in some countries when compared to others.
For example, you may have to pay a high labor cost to outsource customer support to the USA. But on the other hand, it may cost less if you outsource to India.
This is because of the lower cost of living in India. According to Syrow, the cost of outsourced call center services in India is $6-10, while it’s $20-30 in the USA.
So you can save a lot of money by outsourcing smartly to a suitable country.
2. Easier to meet KPI targets
To compensate for the higher labor cost, in-house call centers usually have fewer agents than third-party service providers. As a result, they may not attend as many customer service calls as outsourced call centers.
Additionally, call center tasks will be divided among fewer agents in an in-house call center — increasing each agent’s workload and making it difficult to achieve target metrics.
For example, a call center with 40 agents can easily achieve an ASA (Average Speed of Answer or the minimum time to attend an incoming call) of 15 seconds than a call center with 20 agents.
Outsourced call centers may be able to achieve higher targets due to their ability to hire on scale. As a result, you can aim higher than your standard targets by outsourcing customer service.
3. Better service quality
A call center outsourcing company can have multiple clients from different industries. As a result, their agents may have more experience handling various customers and adverse situations.
On the other hand, your in-house team’s talent could be restricted to local experiences due to their limited number of clients.
Additionally, some outsourced service providers have agents who are trained or educated in particular fields. Such agents can provide better customer service when they work in their respective fields.
For example, a qualified IT (Information Technology) agent will provide better IT technical support than an agent without specialization.
However, staffing such agents may be difficult in your country due to high labor costs.
This means that outsourcing customer service could give you access to more skilled call center agents.
4. Save time
When you outsource your customer support, you don’t have to worry about running it.
You don’t have to create payrolls, track attendance, check quality assurance, or measure performance if you outsource. But on the other hand, you’ll be accountable for the functioning and maintenance of an in-house team.
By outsourcing, you can use the time you would spend managing an in-house call center to focus on your core tasks.
For example, you could reach out to a few more potential clients with the time you save by outsourcing. Or you can invest more time in creating a business strategy.
This means that outsourcing can help you grow more when compared to in-housing by giving you more time to invest productively.
5. Better workforce management
Call volumes can vary in a day.
That’s why, if you schedule the same number of agents throughout the day, you may miss calls during peak hours and have low agent engagement when the call volume is less.
To overcome this inefficiency, you should practically schedule agents such that they’re able to attend maximum calls. For example, you should assign more agents to work in the afternoon if the call volume is high during that time of the day.
But to schedule agents flexibly, you need to have the experience and tools to manage your workforce.
An outsourced call center is usually not bound by constraints like regular working hours — allowing them to schedule their staff in unconventional ways to maximize productivity.
They can do so by:
- Including split shifts (splitting a day’s working hours into different shifts).
- Combining full- and part-time agents.
- Temporarily recruiting agents from other departments and much more.
This freedom to manage their staff can help them provide customer service efficiently and utilize their workforce to their maximum capacity.
6. Flexible scaling
Scaling is a hectic and challenging process, especially if you have to manage your customer care team. But running an in-house call center can drastically drain your energy, reducing the effort you may invest in expanding.
For example, you may have to manage the training of new agents when you scale so that their operational efficiency doesn’t decrease. But you may have to attend meetings with potential clients at the same time.
Such a hectic schedule can make it hard for you to manage both, reducing the effectiveness of your business scaling.
Call center outsourcing can simplify the process and increase your business’s scalability.
As a result, you can easily expand or scale down your business without the thoughts of hiring, training, or maintaining your customer care.
Amazing benefits, right?
However, call center outsourcing has its own limitations. Let’s take a look.
3 challenges of call center outsourcing
Sometimes, outsourcing can lead to poor customer experience, even if you’ve hired top call center outsourcing companies. This could be due to language barriers, ineffective quality monitoring, etc.
Let’s explore some of these challenges in detail:
1. Lack of product or service awareness
Your outsourcing partner might not have an in-depth understanding of your company culture, ethics, and values. They might also lack the similar dedication your in-house team has for your product or service.
This can negatively reflect upon customer issue resolution as they’re less likely to have rapid or comprehensive responses, providing a level of service that might not be at par with your company standards.
That’s why it’s crucial to ensure that your outsourced team is familiar with your company’s offerings and culture.
2. Language barriers
Language issues can be a huge obstacle when outsourcing to an offshore or nearshore company that doesn’t have the same native language as you or your customers.
Sometimes, they may speak the same language but have different accents that make it hard to communicate. For example, if your call center service provider is based in Australia, your US customers may find the usage of some words confusing — complicating their communication.
To avoid this problem, you should check whether the outsourcing solution employs agents who can interact with your customer smoothly.
You can also ask your partner to train their agents to improve their communication skills. Outsourcing companies that show no improvement after training can be considered ineligible to provide customer service of preferred quality.
3. Inability to monitor quality
A major problem with outsourcing customer support is the lack of control in quality monitoring.
You can’t monitor whether the outsourced agents are working productively and following your company policies. This puts you at the risk of paying for the work they haven’t done.
Fortunately, you can tackle this issue with Time Doctor.
What is Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a powerful productivity and performance management software used by SMBs like Thrive Market and large businesses like Ericsson.
Whether you hired a physical or a virtual call center partner, Time Doctor helps you track how your outsourcing partner’s agents work on your tasks. You can also monitor their web and app activity to see whether agents waste time on social media or other non-work-related websites.
The software can also ensure that the tracked billable hours are accurate to the second, preventing you from overpaying your outsourced call center.
With Time Doctor, you can:
- Track the time agents work using a silent and interactive time tracking feature.
- Generate detailed productivity reports in real-time.
- Seamlessly manage employee shifts with Work Schedules.
- Track agent inactivity using idle time tracker.
- Take screenshots of agents’ monitors during work hours.
- Integrate with tools like Asana, Basecamp, and Trello using the powerful Chrome extension.
This way, Time Doctor can help monitor outsourced service providers, making call center outsourcing easy, transparent, and productive.
2 types of call center services you can outsource
Here are two major types of call center services to outsource:
Inbound call center services focus on receiving incoming calls from customers for your business.
Inbound call centers provide customer support service and solve problems related to any product or service.
Some of the inbound services you can outsource include:
- Lead qualification: Fast-track lead and sales funnel to engage prospects and boost customer acquisition.
- Customer service: Outsourcing some aspect of your customer service operations to a third-party vendor or service provider.
- Order processing: Outsource the process of picking, packing, and delivery of the packed items to a shipping carrier.
- Help desk services: Helps identify and assess customer issues and determine solutions for immediate resolution.
In outbound call centers, dedicated agents make outbound calls to prospects or existing customers.
Some common outbound call center services are:
- Lead generation: Generating leads for your sales team through advertising, direct engagement, or following referrals from existing customers.
- Customer retention: Follow up with clients and customers with targeted messaging and communication for a personalized experience.
- Market research: A dedicated research team gathers valuable business intelligence.
- Appointment setting: Helps set appointments, confirm dates, and improve show rates.
Now, let’s check out a few call center services available today.
Top 3 call center services for outsourcing
Here’s a quick look at three popular services:
TeleDirect is a US-based call center that offers both inbound and outbound services for businesses of all sizes. You can hire TeleDirect to provide round-the-clock availability for services like processing orders, qualifying leads, tech support, and help desk.
2. Call Connect India
Call Connect India is an India-based call center and business process outsourcing service provider suitable for the banking, communication, and insurance industries. It offers voice and non-voice services like customer support, data entry, and accounts management.
Get Callers is a US-based outsourcing partner with over 800 agents working out of call centers in the Philippines. It mainly focuses on providing services for lead generation and sales.
But before you pick an outsourcing partner, here are some effective tips to help you make an informed decision.
5 best practices for effective call center outsourcing
When it’s done right, outsourcing call center services can benefit your business in many ways.
So here are some useful tips to help you make the most out of this business arrangement:
1. Check compatibility
Your customer service objective depends on the nature of your business.
For example, inbound call center (call centers that receive inbound calls) services include payment processing, simple answering service, and upgrade or renewal requests.
On the flip side, an outbound call center (call centers that make outbound calls) will handle appointment setting, lead generation, telemarketing, conduct client follow-ups, and telesales.
If you’re looking to solve more customer issues, you should outsource to an inbound call center. Or you can hire a contact center (to manage customer interaction across various channels like social media, email, live chats, etc.) for omnichannel customer service.
This way, you’re more aligned with your business vision and can attain your goals much faster.
2. Consider skills and years of experience
All call center service providers may not be equally adept in providing customer service for you. Some of them could be inexperienced or have fewer qualified agents when compared to others.
That’s why you need to carefully weigh the skills of each outsourced service provider before you hire one.
Ensure that they have years of experience in your field. This can be a huge advantage as they may already know how to satisfy your customer and build a strong customer relationship with minimal training.
Additionally, call center service providers with multiple clients from your industry are more likely to be updated about your industry trends.
You should also be wary of service providers who don’t utilize tools for CRM (Customer Relationship Management), managing phone numbers, tech support, or other call center services. Such partners may not be able to provide high-quality services, even if their agents are talented.
3. Prioritize quality customer service
Companies outsource call center services after considering several factors like pricing, ease of collaboration, customer expectation, etc.
However, among all these factors, you should give the most importance to the quality of customer service.
According to a Microsoft study, 90% of customers consider customer service before choosing a brand or becoming loyal to one.
This makes customer satisfaction a key determinant to growing your business. As a result, you should ensure that the call center you’re outsourcing to can keep your customers satisfied.
Cross-check the outsourcing partner’s references and previous work to learn about their track record in this regard. If they’re genuinely customer-focused, every internal process will cater to it, and it’ll show in their agent’s attitude towards existing customers as well.
4. Ensure similar corporate culture
You and your outsourced partner need to understand and respect each other’s work culture. This is especially important if you’re looking for a long-term outsourcing relationship.
The difference in corporate cultures may create misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and conflicts. Over time this can cause issues between you and your call center service provider.
For example, let’s say your call center partner has more holidays than you. This means your customers won’t be able to access their services during those days. The situation will be more complicated if your holidays are different.
Consequently, you must ensure that you and your call center service provider have a similar corporate culture. This way, you can have a smoother outsourcing experience.
5. Keep critical functions in-house
Remember, a call center outsourcing solution that suits your business model saves your time and your resources.
You should use this opportunity to handle all issues and processes integral to your company’s well-being. You can even appoint a dedicated team of employees to manage such issues with care.
For example, your in-house team can offer support on primary issues while you can outsource basic or common queries.
You can use intelligent call routing to customize the inbound calling process and set which calls to be sent to which agent.
Setting up a customer care center can be expensive due to the costs of buying and maintaining equipment and hiring and training employees.
On the other hand, outsourcing customer services can be much more affordable — making it a better option for large and small businesses.
However, you may face some challenges while you outsource customer service.
Use the information we covered here to tackle and resolve these challenges.
Once done, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of call center outsourcing in no time!
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.