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Contact Center Offshore Outsourcing Best Practices 

Contact Center Offshore Outsourcing Best Practices

Contact Center Offshore Outsourcing Best Practices

By Donna Fluss

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Contact center offshore outsourcing has captured the attention of the US market because, if done right, it can reduce operating expenses by 50 to 60 percent. The potential cost savings make offshore outsourcing an almost irresistible option for most enterprises to explore, as long as their service, support and telemarketing functions can be geographically separated from other company activities. But, while the economic benefits can be substantial for a successful initiative, there are also significant risks that must be overcome.

Companies interested in contact center offshore outsourcing must consider many factors, including:

  1. Economics. Making sure the financial benefits justify the risks
  2. Country selection. Analyzing socio-economic factors, in addition to economic ones, to find an appropriate match for your company’s needs
  3. Vendor model. Selecting an offshore outsourcing business model that satisfies your company’s requirements
  4. Vendor selection. Drafting a request for proposal (RFP) and selecting the vendor most qualified to service your customers
  5. Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Developing an SLA that contributes to the success of the relationship and promotes outstanding service quality
  6. Contract. Drafting an agreement that guarantees financial benefits, service quality, and empowers the outsourcer
  7. Security and risk management. Minimizing security and risk concerns
  8. Managing the relationship. Building a successful ongoing relationship that yields financial benefits, satisfies customers, and rewards the outsourcer.

Offshore Outsourcing: Compromised Service Quality
When moving contact cneter activities abroad, there is no reason to sacrifice service quality for financial gain. Offshore outsourcing should reduce the cost per agent from approximately USD$30 – 60 per hour in the US to USD$13 – $18 in countries like India and the Philippines, for example. These financial gains can and should be achieved while maintaining or improving service quality.

While offshore outsourcing is a relatively new concept for contact centers, best practices already exist and should be acted upon to build a strong and lasting partnership that benefits your enterprise, your customers, and the outsourcer.

Best Practices for Managing the Relationship
As challenging as it is to manage an outsourcer relationship when the vendor is geographically close to your business, it is a great deal more difficult when the vendor is thousands of miles away. Distance is a factor that must be considered when deciding to offshore. Here are guidelines for creating and maintaining a successful relationship with an offshore outsourcer:

  1. Manage the relationship as you would any outsourced activity, regardless of the geographical distance.
  2. Locate a manager on-site, particularly early in the relationship while the “kinks” are being worked out.
  3. Visit the site frequently, at least once per month. (The outsourcer will tell you this is not necessary and, after time, it may not be.)
  4. Assign a US-based manager to oversee the relationship.
  5. Speak to your outsourcer daily – avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome that often plagues outsourced activities.
  6. Build formal and informal escalation policies – encourage the outsourcer to escalate inquiries with reward incentives. Set up a formal daily review session, particularly early in the relationship, and encourage the development of informal channels.
  7. Randomly monitor customer inquiries and evaluate call and email quality.
  8. Conduct a baseline survey to determine customer satisfaction levels before outsourcing your contact center activities.
  9. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys as frequently as your budget allows, but not less than quarterly after outsourcing your contact center, to ensure that customer perception of service quality is not slipping.

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