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Five Key Elements to Remember When Selecting an Outsourced Contact Center Solution

September 25, 2006

Securing contact center services should be pretty cut and dry, right? Your organization needs an efficient contact center outsourcing solution; you need this type of service because it is not where your expertise lies. You've found one that handles numerous companies, so they must also be able to perform for you. Therefore, you leave it up to the contact center leaders to ensure that the solution they are offering you is as efficient as promised.
Considering that the contact center selected will be employing individuals to interact with your customers, treating the selection of such services as a mere inconvenience is putting your future revenue, profit and growth potential at risk. Even if contact center solutions are not your prime area of focus, there are things that you can look for in selecting this outsourced service to ensure that your customer interactions are handled as efficiently and professionally as possible.
1.      Contact Center Performance – When investigating a potential solution, ask about the performance measures that are used to determine success levels. Once you have established measures, ask how monitoring of performance is accomplished, how often it takes place and what incentives are used to ensure expected performance is achieved.
2.      Contact Center Scheduling – While this may seem like a topic to leave up to the contact center management, this is an area that you should make a priority to cover. Improper scheduling practices lead to higher stress for agents and degradation in customer service. This can also lead to higher attrition, resulting in the contact center being understaffed when handling your customer interactions. Ask contact center leaders about their scheduling practices and how they ensure the anticipation of peaks and valleys, to make efficient use of agent time.
3.      Workforce Management – While closely related to scheduling, workforce management also looks at how employees are tied to certain tasks. If the contact center does not have an effective workforce management program in place, they most likely cannot offer you a quality solution. This type of program will ensure that specific customer interactions are handled by the most qualified agent to not only achieve first contact resolution, but to also deliver a high level of customer service.
4.      Customer Care Solutions – Customers today demand information and services any time and anywhere. If your customers meet this profile, look for a solution that offers inbound calling and electronic communications such as Web, chat and IVR self-service 24 x 7. An outsourced solution that is available 365 days a year can guarantee that customer interaction and experiences remain healthy-- contributing to long-term customer loyalty.
5.      Recruitment and Retention – This is an area where many organizations fail in their search for an effective contact center outsourcing solution. Attrition rates are directly linked to contact center performance and customer satisfaction levels. If the outsourcer is not employing comprehensive recruiting practices as well as proper on-going training and coaching, robust scheduling and workforce management practices are not likely to offset the impact that high attrition has on the customer experience. Be sure that efficient practices are in place and that attrition rates are lower than the industry average.
Finding an efficient contact center outsourcing solution is as important as any other customer-centric task. Searching for a solution without first being informed about what to look for, is putting the future of your company at risk. Establish your expectations before beginning your search and your selection will not only be much easier, but you will also have a much greater chance at being successful.
Choosing solutions that make the call center more efficient and profitable is vital for future success. To be sure you are prepared to make these decisions, attend the Call Center 2.0 Conference collocated at this years INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo, WEST, October 10-13, 2006, in San Diego.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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