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Outsourcing Your Call Center: When to Implement this Valuable Strategy

Untitled Document According to FierceVoIP, United Airlines was forced to make a key customer-service decision in 2002. A major restructuring forced the company to consider outsourcing its call center to slash operating costs. United chose a hybrid model, linking both in-house and outsourced call centers. The final result: 75 percent of centers were outsourced, with three major centers remaining in-house. The question that drove these changes: where is the work done best?

Is Outsourcing Your Call Center the Right Call?
Early-stage businesses may very well have the people-power to handle infrequent calls from clients and customers. In-house help desk professionals typically know the ins and outs of the business well enough to provide front-line call center assistance, eliminating the need to train new employees. But what if sales begin to skyrocket? What if company execs find themselves fielding calls instead of directing daily business operations?

When a business demands product service support, IT or help desk support, or telephone/Internet sales support, and these requirements are viewed as a distraction from primary development, the situation might warrant an outsourced call center. The Financial Post also explains that each seat in an in-house call center can be very expensive--think telephone equipment, computer terminals, and call tracking software.

Call Centers by the Numbers
Theres little doubt that call centers are earning a well-deserved second look by businesses and organizations on a global scale. The prospect of simplifying operations and refocusing resources seems just too good to pass up. The numbers reflect new attitudes. A report by Milwaukee-based asset management firm Robert W. Baird andamp; Co. sheds some light on the growth of call centers in terms of percentages and dollars spent:

  • 20 percent of the $300 billion spent worldwide on contact centers in 2006 went to outsourcers.
  • Projected growth is expected to reach a $60 billion-a-year market to $104 billion in five years.
  • Expansion is expected to hit 26 percent of a $400 billion market by 2011.
  • For retail and consumer services, spending will grow by 14 percent a year from 2006 through 2011.

Making Maximum ROI From a Call Center
The essence of a call center is its return on investment (ROI). The ability to improve sales and retain customers must be greater than the expense of hiring professionals to man those phones.

Internet Retailer offers three key benchmarks for making the most out of this investment:

  • Monitor. Examine such statistics as time per call, resolved versus unresolved issues, and other performance-based metrics, making tweaks along the way
  • Measure. Create achievable goals in every aspect of call management that will serve as guidelines for success (make CRM data a part of the equation)
  • Motivate. Instill pride in operators and supplement their skills with a rich training program to ensure proper handling of a wide range of issues.

Businesses that see seasonal spikes in business, such as retail, can turn to an outsourced call center for a pick-me-up during those busy times. Dealing with that ebb and flow is just one more way outsourcing some or all of its call center functions can make sense for a busy firm.

Financial Times
Internet Retailer (PDF)

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